12 Step Meetings, Part 1
There are a great number of 12-step meetings in the world. Most of them are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, a group formed in 1935 when two alcoholics saw the need for support and benefit in sharing their recovery from chronic alcoholism with those who were still in the grip of this troubling addiction. Today, there is an entire field of medicine dedicated to treating addictions. Addicts can now find recovery outside the medical community(s) by attending 12-step recovery meetings in most areas such as: alcohol, drugs, specific types of drugs, smoking, eating (both eating disorders and over-eating), sex addictions, gambling addictions, work addictions, shopping addictions, and various support groups for those who are surviving family members of alcoholics, drug addicts, co-dependents, those who love too much, tough love for the significant others’ of addicted persons, and many, many more. These groups are important to those who need them.
How does one begin to determine where they belong? Many of those with an addiction problem anywhere in their lineage may find that they can comfortably feel at home in numerous of these groups. Not all of them will be 12-step based, but we will limit our discussion here to those that are.
There are many whose story of addiction begins in a support group such as Alanon or Alateen. These are groups who base their recovery on the aspects of development of a family system that grows around the dynamic of one family member who has an alcohol or drug problem. The person may be a parent or teen. The other family members become what is termed co-dependent in these family systems. As the family adapts to incorporate the addict’s troubles, their formation becomes skewed and needs to be set right so their personal development, both together and individually, can be righted.
As they achieve maturity through their own personal recovery process, they are able to deal more effectively with the addict in the family, however they determine it will go. Addiction can take a family down, and these programs will assist them in avoiding that fate and having support for dealing with the devastation of addiction. Many of these people may develop their own addictions and go into recovery at another level. This is not uncommon.
In choosing the 12-step recovery program that is most effective for a person, they will need to determine, not so much what their problem is as what their solution should look like. In today’s culture, many are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. While their problems may not be exactly the same as the alcoholics they encounter in AA, they may choose to attend AA and deal with that addiction, because they find the recovery is suited to where they wish to go.
Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work, with a specialization in substance abuse treatment. Having worked in this field for over 20 years, she is currently working on her certification as an addictions’ counselor.