Does The 12 Step Philosophy Really Work?

Project Match is an infamous study, one of the first to dive deeply into the debate of Alcoholics Anonymous and the efficiency of the twelve steps as a viable form of treatment. 900 drinkers were split into three groups to receive one of three treatments, either using AA-based treatment which utilizes the 12 steps and emphasizes attendance of meetings, cognitive behavioral therapy, or motivational enhancement therapy. Problematically, there was not a fourth group of individuals who had to quit drinking on their own.

Conclusively, the study found that the twelve step approach combining the attendance of meetings and utilizing the program of the twelve steps worked as well as other treatment methods, according to Scientific American. Citing another study, the article points out that in 2006 a Stanford University professor found that AA worked remarkably well. This study followed problem drinkers for an astonishing 16 years. The drinkers had either quit on their own, attended AA, or worked with therapists. “Of those who attended at least 27 weeks of AA meetings during the first year,” Scientific American writes, “67% were abstinent at the 16-year follow-up,” the remaining 34% did not participate in AA in any way. For the participants who received therapy, 56% remained abstinent 16 years later.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the use of any twelve step program is not meant to be an exclusive treatment method, or a treatment method at all. The steps are called suggestions and a program of recovery. Within the primary text of the group, The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous, the authors encourage people to work with therapists. A vast majority of treatment facilities today are 12 step based or utilize 12 step philosophy. Though this raises controversy because AA is not scientifically based, once one reads a section of the book titled The Doctor’s Opinion, they see points which directly correlate to many of today’s “evidence-based” treatment methods.

The twelve step approach does not work for everyone. Relapse can happen at any point in time throughout someone’s life if they let down their routine of recovery, which does not have to include AA. For those who adhere to the program, continue therapy, and create meaning in their new sober lives, long term, even lifelong abstinence is completely possible.

Enlightened Solutions believes in the spiritual solution of the twelve step philosophy and utilizes integrative holistic approaches to support proven clinical methods. Our partial care programs are designed to heal alcoholism and addiction in mind, body, and spirit. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


The Importance Of Honesty In Recovery

Recovery begins with honesty. The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous describes the first step this way: “We learned that we had to fully conceded to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.” To concede means to “admit something that is true or valid after first denying or resisting it.” It also means to “surrender or yield”. Honesty is part of the first step of recovery because we have to admit that we are struggling with addiction and/or alcoholism. Often, we have been back and forth with ourselves about this part of our lives. We denied it in many ways, sometimes for many years. We resisted coming to the truth because we knew once we did, we would have to stop drinking and using, being forced to reckon with ourselves. Yet, we learned that we had to make a concession to our efforts. Honesty regarding our addiction is not something that just comes naturally. If we were suddenly enlightened with the idea that all we had to do was tell the truth about our struggles, recovery would look much different. The truth is, we were probably given the lesson over and over again. To learn doesn’t mean to just know. Learning is a process of gaining information. Overtime, we learned that there was going to be no other way to go about it. We had to get honest. We had to face the consequences.

Honesty is an integral part of recovery. We have to be honest about how we feel every day in treatment, or we lose an opportunity to heal. We have to be honest about our cravings and obsessive thoughts about using or else we risk relapse. We have to be honest about our fears and insecurities or we might fall into false pride and become delusional once again.

Addiction, in and of itself, is a lie. Addiction tells us that another hit, another pill, another dose, another drink, will make everything better. Addiction never bothers to be honest, letting us know that the next one will never be enough, that there is always going to be a next one. Honesty puts an end to the madness. It creates sanity where sanity has been lost. Recovery is your opportunity to find yourself and be found.

Start with honesty. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcoholism and addiction and are ready for help, Enlightened Solutions has an answer. Call us today for information on our integrative treatment programs for men and women, 833-801-5483.


intensive outpatient program

Trying Out The 12 Steps As A New Year’s Resolution

Before there were luxury treatment centers, detox hospitals, and intensive outpatient programs operating out of plaza storefronts, there was no answer to the insanity of alcoholism and addiction. In the early 1900’s medical professionals and psychological professionals alike struggled to find a solution to the problem of alcohol. How men (and women) could continue to drink to the point of insanity after repeated negative consequences like losing a job, losing a wife, or becoming ill, was baffling. When Alcoholics Anonymous was formed and released The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930’s, a revolution began. Citing alcohol as “cunning, baffling, and powerful,” The Big Book advocated for a complete and total psychic change as being necessary to relieve alcoholics of the phenomenal obsession to drink. Stunned, doctors saw results commence in their patients immediately. After being lost without an answer as to help such alcoholics survive, many were beginning to thrive right before their eyes. Once selfish people were selflessly volunteering their time to others who suffered. Quickly, the word of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship spread.

12 Steps Created

In the beginning there were only six steps. Eventually, after working with renowned psychologist and dream analyst Carl Jung, Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, along with Bob Smith, also known as Dr. Bob and the other founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, created the 12 steps. Since then, the 12 step method has led as the primary approach to treating alcoholism. Most of today’s modern treatment programs have foundation in the principles and theories put down in The Big Book.

Self-help

Self-help is a popular theme which has practically become a hobby and lifestyle. The 12 steps are a spiritual program for living, inspiring the experience of a spiritual awakening sufficient enough to cause an alcoholic to stop craving alcohol. Though many shy away from the 12 steps due to the spiritual nature of the program, many others find that the lifestyle applies to many areas in life. Dozens upon dozens of diagnoses, conditions, and problems, have found relief and solution within the 12 steps.

Whether you are new to recovery, considering recovery, or need a boost of self-help, the 12 steps are an interesting and proven practice.

Enlightened Solutions utilizes the spiritual principles set down by the 12 steps and the themes of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition to incorporating the 12 steps into treatment, we bring residents to meetings regularly in order to become immersed in the local 12 step community. For more information on our residential treatment programs for men and women seeking recovery from addiction, alcoholism, and dual diagnosis mental health issues, call 833-801-5483.


Starting The New Year On Step One

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is the text within the list of twelve steps which dictates the infamous “first step” of solving any problem- admitting you have one. Step one is step one for a very important reason. It is impossible to carry on treatment for, or healing from alcoholism if one doesn’t admit that alcohol is a problem. Any attempt to rectify a problem that hasn’t yet been distinguished as a problem would be considered a moot cause.

First Steps First

In the primary text of Alcoholics Anonymous,The Big Book, step one is listed on page 30 in a chapter titled “More About Alcoholism”. The text reads, “We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people or presently may be has to be smashed.”

The delusion of whichThe Big Book authors Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith speak of does not exclusively apply to alcoholism. Part of the “work” done in recovery is to expose the underlying issues which have contributed to one’s development of alcoholism in their lives. These other issues are commonly called “ism’s” of which many alcoholics suffer. Each day is an opportunity to confront more than the problem of alcohol, but the many problems so many of us face due to our humanity, our struggles, our personalities, our pasts, and more.

Reflection

December is usually a time of year for reflection. We take the time to reflect on the last 12 months of the calendar year. Did we meet our goals? Have we exceeded our expectations? Can we easily see where we could have done better and need to improve? Are there sore spots in our lives which need attention? Taking a look at our year, we can see where we need to fully concede to our innermost selves we are in need of help yet again.

Constantly returning to step one is not an indication of failure, inadequacy, or shame. Rather, it is a mark of courage and determination to stay committed to bettering oneself. Step one holds a hidden secret to resolve this feeling of suspicion or self-consciousness. In both the 12 step text and the text from the book, there is the word “we”. You are not alone in your endeavors to stay sober. Identically, you are not alone in your mission to find where you are weak and resolve to make yourself more strong in that area. Step One is a demonstration of your willingness. After all, you have to get through step one to actually change.

Enlightened Solutions wants to help you make and keep that new year’s resolution to get and stay sober. Our program incorporates 12 step philosophy with holistic healing and traditional, proven therapeutic methods. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 833-801-5483.


Enlightened Solutions Step Study: The Spirituality of Service in Step 12

After Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, had his breakthrough spiritual experience, wrote out the inventory of his grievances, and made amends wherever possible, he began to help other alcoholics. Throughout the hospitals and wards he had once resided in as an incurable patient, he sat, sober, at the bedside of other men who were struggling with alcoholism. Day by day, man by man, Bill shared the wisdom of his experience, strength, and hope. As Bill related his story to others, many men found they shared a common ground. Inspired by Bill’s miraculous ability to recover, they began to think recovery might be possible for them as well. This is the foundation of Step 12.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs,” is how the twelfth step reads. “Nothing,” the authors describe in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail...You can help when no one else can.”

Feeling misunderstood is the plight of many suffering alcoholics. With as much love, anger, urgency, or patience as they could withstand, family members and loved ones of alcoholics tried to point out their problem. In the depths of misery and despair there is a certain self-centeredness that disallows the perspective of another to get in. Many alcoholics experience a deep and toxic sense of shame, guilt, or stigma for being an alcoholic. Before they can recover, they must believe they have a problem. Additionally, they must believe that problem is not without a solution.

Having experienced the power of recovery, treatment, and transformation, you have the responsibility, which is truly more life a gift, to give back and give it away. Often it is said in recovery that in order to “keep it” we must “give it away.” Think of it like this: when one finds a diet that works, they are quick to tell the world. Whatever the gimmick that helped them lose weight, the underlying celebration is that they feel better after not feeling well at all. Step 12 is our spiritual diet. We feel better after we were practically banging on death’s door. Being of service to other alcoholics is the way to carry that message and say, “If I can feel better, so can you.”

 

Enlightened Solutions uses 12 step philosophy to help clients grow along spiritual lines as a way of enhancing their recovery. We believe in the power of participating in a positive and supportive community, like the one 12 step fellowships encourage. For more information on our programs of treatment for men and women seeking to recover from addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring disorders, call 833-801-5483.


Doing “The Work”

What is “the work”? We hear it referred to all the time in recovery when we seek treatment for our addiction to drugs and alcohol. “Work it because you’re worth it” twelve step meetings attendees proclaim at the conclusion of their meet up. “The work works”, they say, never truly defining what it is they are alluding to. “It only works if you do the work”, they nearly threaten, yet still they don’t explain what “the work” is.

Most often, in the 12 step world created by Alcoholics Anonymous, the work refers to the journey of the 12 steps. Each step requires a certain kind of assignment, as it is laid out in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Certainly, there is work to be done to get from step one to step twelve. For example, the fourth step which states “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” asks us to make an informed inventory of our lives.

Is it possible that the “work” which occurs through the twelve steps is so remarkable that everyone who goes to twelve step meetings would refer to it so ambiguously? It is possible, but it is only part of what everyone is talking about.

“The work” in recovery is not graded. Unlike schoolwork, the work that takes place by choosing to walk this path happens spiritually. It is in fact spiritual work. Spiritual work happens incrementally, though sometimes it can feel like it happens all at once. Emotional work happens through emotional breakthroughs, realizations, and insights.

All of the work takes willingness. Like space travelers, we have to be willing to boldly go where we have not gone before wishing the depths of our spirits and our minds.

Is the work worth working? Absolutely. No doubt it all sounds very strange. There is indeed a mystery to all of it. For the millions of people around the world who have been recovering for years by doing “the work”, it seems to be working for them. They found the willingness they need to grow along spiritual lines, progressively. Are you ready to begin? The work is waiting.

Enlightened Solutions offers a combined approach to treating addiction and alcoholism, including evidence based treatment, twelve step philosophy and holistic healing. Treating mind, body, and spirit, Enlightened guides patients on the path of recovery, one step at a time. For more information on our programs for men and women, call 833-801-5483.


Sugar On The Brain

There is a curious mental phenomena, a “peculiar mental twist” as The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it, when it comes to alcoholism. It is nearly impossible for an alcoholic, a true alcoholic, to have just one drink. Due to the physical allergy nature of alcoholism, when an alcoholic takes that first drink, their body (and their mind) responds through craving. Not only does the body and mind crave alcohol, it obsesses. The reason alcoholism is so curious is because there are clearly millions of people who can stop drinking when they want to. If they want to have one drink, they can have just one drink. If they happen to have more than just one drink, they are capable of stopping themselves at some point, even if it gets bad. An alcoholic is unable to control their drinking. In fact, in The Big Book, they define an alcoholic by asking them realize the delusion that they can drink like other people “has to be smashed”.

Science has been yearning to discover what it is that differentiates the alcoholic brain from the non-alcoholic brain. Some blame genetics and predisposition while others blame peer pressure and mental illness. Either way, alcoholism simply happens to some and doesn’t happen to others. The same seems to be true with how the brain and body responds to sugar. Sugar and addiction are getting coupled up. Numerous studies are indicating that the brain responds to sugar in a very similar manner to addictive substances like drugs and alcohol.

One scientist in particular things addiction to sugar has more to do with biochemistry than will. Similarly, the industry as a whole has agreed that addiction is a disease of the body and mind, a public health crisis of mental illness, more than it is a matter of will. Monica Dus, reports NPR, “believes a diet in high sugar actually changes the brain, so it no longer does a good job of knowing how many calories the body is taking in.” Overtime, the brain makes consistent incremental changes which leads to the inability to eat just one cupcake or piece of candy.

Addiction and alcoholism are the result of incremental brain changes in which the brain is no longer able to produce it’s own dopamine or source of pleasure. Additionally, other systems in the brain change like areas where control or limitation is regulated.

Treating sugar like a substance which is harmful to the brain is more than dietary. For people in recovery it is important to support the brain from repeating addictive behaviors. Enlightened Solutions offers nutritional and dietary support including a sugar free diet and weekly lessons on cooking. A certified dual diagnosis treatment center, Enlightened provides recovery for addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information, 833-801-5483.


Recovery Has To Mean Something

You have to do it for you. That’s what old timers in recovery will tell you. Stick around the rooms of twelve step meetings like alcoholics anonymous long enough and you will hear similar sayings. Mothers couldn’t stay sober for the babies, husbands couldn’t stay sober for their wives, doctors couldn’t stay sober for their patients, CEO’s couldn’t stay sober for their companies. No matter the circumstance, condition, social class, economic level, or race, unless a person is getting sober for themselves, they’ve hardly a chance.

Getting sober has to mean something. The meaningless life of drugs and alcohol has to be outmatched by the promises of recovery. Sitting comfortably in the numbness of active addiction is easy to do. For many different reasons, drugs and alcohol became our meaning. Some of us found identities we never had, abilities we never had, or escape we had never experienced before we tried drugs or alcohol. After some time the original meaning we found in using was replaced by the bottomless search for meaning in addiction. High, low, drunk, wasted, unconscious, psychedelically conscious- that once satisfying discovery becomes a long lost and distant memory. Therefore, when we choose to get sober, we have to create meaning. There must be a reason for us to recover. Discovering that reason is part of recovery itself.

Four out of every ten people in America feel that they have not yet discovered their meaning in life or found an answer to their life purpose, according to the Center for Disease Control. Through the twelve steps we are given a simple distinguished purpose: to carry the message. By overcoming the grips of addiction and learning to live a sober lifestyle, we inherently create a new purpose for ourselves in letting other addicts, new and doubtful like we once were, know they have a chance. Living by example, we let other people who may be silently suffering see that living without drugs and alcohol is a real possibility for them.

What will recovery mean to you? As we often say, “More will be revealed.” While in the midst of withdrawals or detox, the early weeks of recovery make meaning hard to come by unless its sheer survival. Give yourself enough time and you will find that the meaning is indeed revealed, one day at a time. Make it matter. Make it yours.

This is your time. Recovery is a meaningful decision that leads to magnificent life transformation. It starts with you. If you or a loved one are in need of treatment for addiction, alcoholism, or dual-diagnosis mental health issues call Enlightened Solutions today for more information. 833-801-5483.


Two Easy Ways to Reduce Negative Emotions

One of the most challenging and unattractive parts of recovery to many people is feelings. Feeling feelings is difficult for the first time when drugs and alcohol aren’t present. Some feelings are associated with traumas and stories of a painful past which hasn’t been reckoned with. Learning to manage negative emotions is a necessary survival skill for lifelong sobriety. Here are two methods which are proven on a neurological scale to help.

 

Gratitude

We hear a lot about gratitude in early recovery. As if it is the new drug du jour, people are always talking about gratitude lists, gratitude journals, and being grateful all the time. It is the “attitude of gratitude” as it is commonly said, which keeps people sober. In terms of recovery and the spiritual solution provided by the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, this makes sense. Resentments, as highlighted in the fourth step inventory, are, as The Big Book authors and AA founders put it “fatal” to the alcoholic. Essentially, it is impossible to be in a resentment and be in gratitude at the same time.

 

According to neuroscientific research, gratitude increases levels of dopamine production as well as activates dopamine circuits involved with social activity. So not only does dopamine makes us feel better in general, but practicing gratitude toward others increases our happiness toward others.

 

Emotional Literacy

Most people who have been to treatment for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction are familiar with a famous chart. This chart has rows upon rows of “emoji” faces expressing different emotions. Under each emotion is the label for what that feeling is. Drug and alcohol addiction stunt developmental growth, especially in emotional maturation. Not only do emotions not mature, the literacy required for adequately articulating those emotions also gets stunted. What “feels bad” to someone could really mean a range of feelings from sad to angry to hurt. Without knowledge of these labels, it is hard to identify them; without identifying them, it is hard to work through them and let them go.

 

Emotional literacy and being able to label feelings actually reduces the chaos and discomfort many recovering addicts and alcoholics experience when dealing with emotions for the first time. With just one or two words to associate with an emotional experience, the prefrontal cortex gets activated, thereby reducing activity in the limbic system which results in that discomfort.