HOUGHTON — Recovery from addiction is a long-term process that continues after treatment ends, staff at U.S. addiction centers said in a Sept. 12 posting titled Addiction, Aftercare Programs, Activities & Support Groups Near Me.
“Aftercare is any type of ongoing care you receive after leaving rehab,” AACS states. “The most common forms are 12-step meetings, outpatient care, counseling and sober living.”
Twelve-Step Programs are powerful peer support groups that help people recover from substance use disorders, behavioral addictions and sometimes other co-occurring mental health issues, the website says. ‘AACS. Twelve-step programs also help people achieve and maintain abstinence from substances. The site says, however, that while the 12-step movement can be a powerful and helpful force for many, some people struggle with what they interpret as a strong religious element of the program. Yet literature publicly available through Alcoholics Anonymous states:
“AA is not affiliated with any sect, denomination, policy, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Our main goal is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics get sober.
An October 9, 2020 article published by the editorial staff of the American Addiction Centers titled Religion and AA stated that to nonbelievers it may seem that AA is a deeply religious organization. It promotes the idea of a higher power controlling people’s lives. It also encourages members to adopt a code of conduct that has a definite religious connotation. Alcoholics Anonymous is certainly not anti-religious, but the early members of the group were keen to present themselves as a spiritual program.
Jeff Williams, director of outpatient services at Copper Country Mental Health Services, Houghton, touched on the perceived religious element that many people point to.
“You can’t have a higher power, like going to church,” he said, “but I think the 12-step program is very open to higher powers.”
While the popular myth that AA is a religious program persists, there is no denying that it is effective enough in aiding long-term sobriety to have survived and grown exponentially since its founding in 1935. But there are Are There Real Benefits to 12-Step Programs? ?
Williams said there are absolutely benefits to 12-step programs like AA.
“I think if someone goes to 12 steps, they will get something out of it,” he said. “These are great meetings to just go to.
Williams said people, however, are afraid to go to 12-step meetings, mainly because of the lingering religious perception.
The American Addiction Centers article, in addressing the religious/spiritual debate controversy, does not deny a spiritual element to the program, but is also quick to differentiate what it states is the difference between the two:
“Spirituality generally refers to an inner path that people follow in search of a higher type of power,” indicates the site. “The path they take may be heavily influenced by the religious teachings of the world, but it will be more of a personal journey. It is typical for spiritual seekers to borrow ideas from different belief systems and mix them with their own ideas.
“Religion is less a personal journey than a matter of following an established path. There will usually be the belief that this path is the best, and so other paths should be avoided. A religion will provide rules to be followed and specific teachings that adherents must follow.
A 2006 report published on the Psychiatric Services website stated that there is a positive benefit in spirituality in 12-step programs:
“Physiological research suggests that spirituality may be relevant to the healing of psychiatric disorders.”
The report states that spirituality is a latent construct, which is inferred from several dimensions, such as social psychology, neurophysiology, and treatment outcome research.
Williams suggested that there is more to consider than religion/spirituality debates regarding the effectiveness of AA. These include the support, understanding, compassion and unity of its members.
“There are peers who know what you have been through” he said, “It may not be exactly what you’ve been through, but they know the program — they know the loss, the addiction. There is a lot of help in these meetings.
Recovery, he said, is a very personal thing.
“People talk about ‘I’m recovering'” he said. “Your recovery may be totally different from that of another person who says they are in recovery.”
At the same time, if someone goes to an A.A. meeting, a 12-step meeting, any kind of self-help meeting, other recovery meetings – whatever they are – said, “it’s just that they’re on the way; they think about it. It’s on their radar. So that’s a good thing.