Taking Gradual Recovery Steps Applies to Every Addiction, Not Just Drinking
Most of us are aware of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), the 12-step programs for alcoholics and drug addicts. These recovery programs are for those struggling with addiction and based on a set of 12 guiding principles to help addicts face their addiction and begin the long process of recovery. These programs have been effectively helping millions to achieve sobriety for over eight decades.
More than Drugs and Alcohol
Some people think addiction only applies to substances like drugs and alcohol and yet, we commonly joke about being addicted to shopping, chocolate chip cookies, or Facebook. The truth is, people struggle with all kinds of addictions, including gambling, sex, food, and relationships, among others.
In an addiction, an individual is unable to abstain from a substance or behavior, despite that behavior creating significant problems in the life of the addict. The craving for the object is so strong and pervasive as to control decisions and behaviors in an individual's life, despite causing repeatedly adverse consequences.
Gambling affects the reward system of the brain in a similar way as illicit drugs. Some people persist in hyper-sexual behavior at risk to their health and relationships. Many people become so reliant on their smartphones and the internet, they cannot resist a notification ping and their relationships suffer due to an uncontrollable compulsion to stay connected online. Others may be unable to control the impulse to shop and buy things they don't need, resulting in financial disaster. And today, fast foods are so readily available, and processed foods created so we crave more of them without feeling full, that we are experiencing epidemic levels of preventable diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
The 12-Steps Back to Health
The 12-Step philosophy can help individuals struggling with addictive or obsessive behaviors of any kind. It is spiritually based, yet also adaptable for someone who is not spiritually inclined. By first facing your own denial and recognizing your lack of power over your addiction, you can begin the road to recovery. As you rely on your higher power, you become more self-aware of the negative impact of addiction in your life and the harm it has caused yourself and others. Next, you will need to take steps to repair the damage caused by your addiction by making amends as necessary. Finally, you must continue to take daily inventory of your actions in order to prevent a relapse, and then help others who are also struggling. Whatever your addiction, you can use these steps to face and recover from your addiction.