Virtually all psychological disciplines will agree that we all have an inherent human need for community. In fact, the emotional pains that surface with loneliness are basic warning signs from the human mind that are usually enough to drive a person out of isolation and towards social interaction, if not connection. For individuals who specifically exhibit addictive-type personalities, they appear the most highly functioning when their lives are involved with others. Alone, this group has a much lower success rate in maintaining psychological stability.
A 12-Step Approach
Metatonia, a developmental psychology term, is defined as “the goal of empowering wholesale, oftentimes contradictory changes in perceptual approaches towards oneself, others, and the world around them.” Does this sound a bit similar to the 12-Steps and the Promises of recovery? That’s because it is.
From the beginning, Dr. Bob and Bill W. always emphasized the importance of shared approaches or mutual aid. It was crucial to them that each struggling party in recovery was not alone in battling their demons. That was the cornerstone of the 12-Step Recovery program then and still is today.
Besides meeting our most basic, human needs, there are many other psychological research that shows the benefits of social connectedness and psychological growth. Here’s a list of other scientific evidence:
- Evolutionary psychologists note that the human brain is hardwired to learn and retain long-term behavioral changes by way of social observations, or observing the works of others in action.
- Existential psychologists have noted the close connection between the long-term needs of humans in terms of purpose and meaning in life and finding such a thing in the participation in recovery programs. For many alcoholics and addicts, unresolved existential questions that lead to substance abuse is a common, if not frequently mentioned aspect of recovery. This is especially true in younger generations that have become decidedly more agnostic but continue to flock to recovery programs in growing numbers.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy approaches generally feature a goal of mindfulness or meditation on the behavior and thinking of self as it relates to social interactions. Fortunately, for recovery program members, this discipline of personal growth is covered by the 10th Step.
- Social psychology holds that attachments formed between individuals long-term are what dictate an individual’s overall sense of security, validation, meaning and general happiness in life. By any measure, recovery is known to produce close, long-term bonds between friends, sponsors, sponsees, meeting members and even romantic relationships.
In this sense, virtually all psychological disciplines as well as the hard-won experience of the individual programs support the idea that the cornerstone of any solid recovery requires a stable network of social support.