Faith-Based Addiction Recovery
If you’re considering entering an addiction treatment program, you’re probably already at least somewhat familiar with the 12-step program.
The 12-step program looks like this:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we have harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- 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.
This part from point number 3, “the care of God as we understood Him,” means this: whatever higher power you believe in, a puppeteer in the sky, an animal, a cosmic energy or quantum physics, you simply need to accept that there are forces, circumstances, and events that are beyond your power to control them. Point #2 warms you up for point #3.
This isn’t doubletalk and it isn’t an excuse to blame a relapse on “uncontrollable forces.” I heard a great summation by a recovering friend. He has been sober for 21 years as of this writing. He said, ‘I’ve never believed in a God in the conventional sense. I do, however, believe that positive energy gets a positive response. It seems to be true in how things go in life, in science, and in human nature. I remember a time when I went back to my hometown to visit old friends from high school. They were the same old group of people, 20 years later – and not in a good way. They were still cynical, shit-talking snobs who had done almost nothing with their lives. They were still working crummy jobs that they hated, still frequenting the same bars and such – nothing had changed. Then I realized that I had changed. The past 15 years of my life have been spent on surrounding myself with people who are positive and actively support my recovery.’
For him, he recognized that the “higher power” in life was simply an unexplainable force that rewards positivity.
You Don’t Have to Be Religious to Attend 12-Step Programs
But I’m not Christian…you may be thinking. Or: I don’t believe in the whole God thing…
Are 12-step programs religious?
No. While the 12 Steps were inspired by spiritual ideals, the 12-step program itself is not religious at all.
Let’s repeat that: You don’t have to be religious in the slightest to benefit from 12-step programs. At most, these principles can be considered spiritual in nature. They focus on the larger ideas of faith, honesty, humility, and repentance. In fact, in AA tradition, these twelve steps are known as the 12 spiritual, not religious, principles.
What’s the difference? While the 12 Steps do invoke God several times, the very first mention is followed by the phrase as we understood Him, emphasizing that each member’s understanding of a Higher Power is very individualized and personal. Some members do believe in a traditional God, while others simply believe in karma. Others believe the “power greater than themselves” is Earth, science, Mother Nature, the universe, humanity at large, or even their recovery fellowship.
Spiritual, Not Religious
That’s why many who attend the 12-step programs are atheists or agnostic. Belief in a traditional God is not at all necessary to benefit from the 12-step program. No one in the program will ask you about any God, make you say any of the statements, or, heck – make you say or do anything you don’t want to say or do. The only requirement for membership, as AA states, is a desire to stop drinking (or, for other groups, engaging in unhealthy addictive behaviors). The support group is there for your benefit, and you can take from it whatever you like—and leave the rest.
To make its members even more comfortable, some 12-step programs have even decided to remove any mentions of God. For example, SMART Recovery groups, loosely styled after the 12-Step model, do not encourage any submission to a Higher Power. Other AA meetings forgo the Serenity prayer. At the end of each meeting, they instead state Live and Let live, in unison.
Attending 12-Step Meetings for Addiction Recovery
So, to be a thousand percent clear, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are not religious organizations. Even they say so, in their official pamphlet called “The God Word.” Agnostic, atheist, religious, secular: Everyone is welcome at 12-step programs. Always free, always confidential, 12-step programs offer support for teens’ addiction recovery in a nonjudgmental and open community of peers. There are millions of meetings in every location, so you can go to a different one every day and experiment until you find the one that you feel the most comfortable in.
You can benefit from 12-step meetings at any stage of your recovery—residential treatment (Rehab), partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), and outpatient. At a teen rehab center, staff often accompany adolescents to weekly meetings. If you are clinically ready, you may even be able to get a 12-Step sponsor while still in treatment (of course, only if your rehab center approves of it), so you can learn how to utilize this support appropriately. After discharge from a residential or outpatient rehab center, these 12-step programs help teens maintain their treatment progress. There are also 12-step support groups specifically for the parents and siblings of addicted teens, such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Alateen.
So whether you’re currently attending 12-step programs at your drug rehab center or have already been discharged and are now trying to prevent relapse, rest assured that no one will be brainwashing you at these meetings.
The 12-step process will be part of your addiction recovery journey, whether you’re just beginning or you’re in a sober living facility. There is nothing to worry about. Accept the fact that you are not the center of the Universe and realize that your journey will be much easier if you recognize that positive results come from positive people.
If you’d like to learn more about how we incorporate the 12-step program into our recovery methodology, Call us now or use the form below to reach out to us. All discussions are 100% confidential.