It is important to understand that 12-Step recovery and the healthcare industry are not separate; rather, they have long been intrinsically intertwined. In a letter written in 1966, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Bill Wilson wrote, “Thankfully, we have accepted the devoted services of many nonalcoholic. We owe our very lives to the men and women of medicine and religion.” Long have people in the 12-Step community known the critical nature of combining the medical and the recovery field.
This integration of the Twelve Steps and health care is crucial. There is often a misconception that 12-Step recovery comes after medical or clinical rehabilitation and not during or even before. The goal here is to show you that adding a 12-Step program to your guest’s treatment plan early can aid in achieving initial sobriety and better help ensure long-term recovery.
While it may ring as troped, the truth is that recovery is about the journey, not the destination. This is why your rehabilitation plan can significantly benefit by offering a long-term way of life early in recovery. For nearly 88 years, utilizing the Twelve Steps has been shown to be an effective way to do this. Remember, 12-Step recovery and healthcare professionals share the same primary purpose, helping their members (your guests) recover by any means necessary.
Utilizing the Twelve Steps From Day One
Dr. Steven M Melemis has been working in the medical addiction field for over 35 years. In 2015, he wrote a comprehensive essay on the topic of relapse for the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. In it, he writes, “The most important rule of recovery is that a person does not achieve recovery by just not using. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use. When individuals do not change their lives, then all the factors that contributed to their addiction will eventually catch up with them.”
Here Dr. Melemis is addressing a concept that many of his colleagues in the industry, and members of 12-Step programs, have long known to be true. For long-term recovery, you can not simply eliminate alcohol and substance misuse and move on. That elimination must be replaced with something else. That void must be filled. The Twelve Steps of recovery are an ideal way of doing that.
There are three important factors that initial medical treatment and 12-Step recovery share. Is a client aware that they have a problem? Are they willing to accept that they have a problem? Are they ready to take action to tackle that problem? If these three factors are present, there is a good chance that both clinical rehabilitation and 12-Step recovery can occur in tandem. And they can start from day one.
Utilizing the Twelve Steps During Treatment
It has been said that the Twelve Steps “work if you work them.” The good news is for you as the professional, the onus of that work is on your guest rather than yourself. If you incorporate a 12-Step program into your treatment plan, it need not impede your professional treatment plan for your guest.
Your task is to simply direct your client toward the program; the program is designed to work via its internal members rather than outside influences (hence the anonymity aspect). The Twelve Steps have been shown to be an effective way to help countless people attain recovery. However, perhaps more pertinent to your goals, they have been shown to help countless people maintain recovery.
Utilizing The Twelve Steps Post-Treatment
Undoubtedly, people in the professional healthcare field give everything they have to help their clients recover. However, your time with your guests is often limited. This is not intentional, of course, but it is the nature of the professional treatment system. There is limited time with each guest because, unfortunately, there are still millions of people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) that also require your help.
This is where your journey with your guest can conclude or be greatly reduced. However, by offering a 12-Step program, you can do so with a greater level of confidence. Don’t think of a 12-Step program as a replacement. Rather think of it as a potential enhancement of what you have already achieved with your guests.
Utilizing the Paradox of “One Day at a Time” for Continued Recovery
If you are around 12-Step recovery long enough, you are bound to hear the phrase, “One day at a time.” This is perplexing for many as, of course, it is a paradox. How do you achieve long-term recovery if you merely focus on the 24 hours ahead? Well, just as we have been mentioning, it can also be likened to what you do with your clients in the professional sphere.
You often create a foundational plan that slowly builds upon itself until the plan comes to fruition and produces a positive result. Essentially, you often offer recovery sequentially for it to best work. The same goes for 12-Step recovery — one step after another in sequential order. You can now add the Twelve Steps to your individual linear treatment plan, and you can do so with the confidence that it will strengthen the love and hard work you have already offered your guest.