12 step programs are the foundation of our program at Recovery Boot Camp. They are an excellent form of treatment for anyone with a drug or alcohol addiction. The 12 step program is essentially a complete set of guidelines for a total transformation of the addict’s personality.
Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was heavily influenced by the Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung. Jung advised that the cure for alcoholism would have to be something equally as strong, a spiritual cure. The program that was created based on that advice is a spiritual transformation that consists of 12 steps.
People going through 12 step programs typically focus on one step at a time. However, they are often experienced at the same time or in a cyclical fashion. The first step is usually the most difficult and paves the way for the rest of the journey.
Step 1: Honesty and Admittance
Different 12 step programs have different ways of expressing the same step: honesty and admittance (aa sayings). The addiction must be fully accepted. On top of that, the addict must admit that they are powerless over the addiction. They must also be honest about how it has made their lives unmanageable.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains why:
“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
Acknowledging powerlessness against alcoholism is difficult. Pride and stubbornness prevent many people from being able to fully accept this. Once accepted, it leaves a void that must be fulfilled. Step 2 fills this void by placing “belief in a power greater than ourselves”.
Actionable Ways to Achieve Step 1
There’s no sugarcoating it--Step 1 is a difficult step. Admitting that we’re powerless is difficult regardless of the situation. Step 1 is also a less tangible step, making it harder to approach in an actionable manner. Fortunately, it can be broken down into specific areas of focus.
- Accept lifelong abstinence. Part of accepting that you’re powerless against your addiction is accepting that you must abstain from drinking or using for the rest of your life. Accept that you are simply done with the substance and that it’s not something you need.
- Seek humility, let go of pride. You can’t really be filled with pride and humility at the same time. Pride will keep telling you that you are not powerless against your addiction. In fact, these thoughts are an element of the addiction itself. Instead, admitting that you have a problem and abstaining from using will erode away at pride. You’ll be left with a feeling of humility.
- Make a commitment to attend meetings. Meetings are the lifeblood of 12 step programs. Anyone who wishes to fully experience the spiritual transformation that’s possible with these programs needs to make a firm commitment to attend meetings regularly.
Cultivating Your Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is a skill that begins to develop in Step 1 and will continue through the rest of the steps. Being able to observe your cravings, restrain harmful habits and watch your words are signs of self-awareness. Showing these signs indicates that you’ve made significant progress in your road to recovery. It all begins by taking the very first step.