Many individuals seeking addiction treatment are hesitant to join a 12 step rehab program because of misconceptions they have about it. Unfortunately, believing these misconceptions can result in them not taking advantage of something that could have a significant influence on their recovery efforts and on their lives. Of course, this program will not work for everybody, but it’s important for those who are looking to overcome addiction to fully understand the common misconceptions that have been made about the program.
You Have to Be Religious
Oftentimes, this is the aspect of the 12 step rehab program that gives people pause when they consider whether to take part or not. This is understandable as God is mentioned throughout the 12 steps since they were created from a Christian view, and prayers sometimes occur during meetings. However, it’s important to note that, like all pieces of writing, these are open to interpretation. For example, many non-Christians who take part in the 12 steps view the Christian aspect of the program more in an allegorical sense than other members do, and that often works for them. Some of the ways that they do so is by viewing the higher power as a different religious entity or as the power of the group itself.
Also consider that one 12 step group often has a different spiritual focus than another, and a member might be comfortable in some but not in others due to how spirituality is incorporated.
We Have to Feel Powerless
The first step of the program states that we are powerless over alcohol. This is something that can make many uncomfortable as they don’t like the idea of feeling powerless or that they are inherently flawed. This can even give some a sense of lack of control over the situation, which can be counterproductive to the goal of overcoming an addiction.
However, the intent behind the wording of the first step is not that all. Its intent is to remove the shame and blame that those entering the program may feel about their addiction. Recognizing that things like losing friends or a job or experiencing financial or legal troubles have resulted from the addiction will help the individual realize their vulnerability.
It’s for the Weak
Some believe that you show weakness when taking advantage of this program. However, the truth is that it takes quite a bit of strength to admit that you need help to overcome an addiction. As much as we all like to think that we never need help to do anything at all, we often do. When those struggling with addiction are willing to remove the pressure they put on themselves by admitting they need help, there is more room for healing to begin.
You Have to Share Things That You’re Not Comfortable Sharing
Attending meetings in a 12 step rehab is beneficial for recovery. Listening to those in the same situation offers encouragement for those in addiction treatment. While attending meetings, individuals are encouraged to share but are never forced. Simply stating that you decline to speak or sharing limited information is acceptable.
Facilities want their patients to feel comfortable and allow those who attend meetings to simply spend time listening to others who are in their situation. In fact, much can be learned from listening to others talk about their experiences. Perhaps hearing new perspectives will provide patients with some ideas of what might help that had not been considered prior to going to the meeting.
It Doesn’t Work
It’s unfortunate that many don’t enter a 12 step rehab program because they don’t believe that it will work. Of course, it doesn’t for some, but it does for countless others. The only way to know for sure if it would work for a specific person is to try it out. There is no requirement to remain longer than is comfortable.
In fact, it’s been shown that engaging within groups is one of the best forms of treatment, a form of treatment that results in a positive behavior change. Additionally, studies such as this one have shown that taking part in 12 step rehab is as effective as other forms of treatment for those suffering from an addiction.
Of course, having programs to complement the 12 steps is crucial for many people. Ocean Hills Recovery, while providing programs that are in line with the 12 Step program, also provides other evidence-based therapies to ensure the highest success rate in long term recovery.
They Will Cause a Relapse
Some worry that hearing about others discussing drinking and talking about their experiences will cause those listening to be more apt to relapse, that this will serve as a sort of trigger. However, this generally is not the case. Listening to others talk about their own struggles and what has and what hasn’t worked for them usually does not trigger any sort of negative reaction and is usually either helpful or results in a neutral response. Additionally, talking about the acts of drinking or using drugs is discouraged.
It’s a Cult
This is one statement that has no basis in truth. A cult is a religious sect that is under the control of an authoritarian, charismatic leader and whose members are expected to conform to certain beliefs without questioning them. Conversely, these types of programs allow quite a bit of input in how the groups are run, and members are repeatedly told to take advantage of what parts help them and leave the rest.
If you or someone you care for is looking to overcome an addiction and to take advantage of options such as 12 step rehab, Ocean Hills Recovery can help. Contact us today for help.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.