Strengthening the Foundation: Guiding Those in Need to 12-Step Meetings

Nearly 90 years ago, two men came together with a unified struggle: the struggle of addiction. These men determined that in order to stay sober, they must work with others in recovery. This became imperative. This became the primary purpose, which is now discussed in a 12-Step meeting every hour of every day all over the world.

Those two men were the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (more commonly known as Bill W. and Dr. Bob). The realization that these men came to nearly a century ago has helped millions of people experience recovery, whether it be a personal journey or through the recovery experience of a friend or a loved one. For this reason, 12-Step meetings must continue to remain at the forefront of the mind regarding addiction recovery. This primary purpose must remain integrated into the healthcare sphere as well; for the benefit of the professional and the guest.

The truth is that while most people within the healthcare industry are familiar with 12-Step recovery, they may be unaware of all of the benefits that a 12-Step program has to offer. Gaining this crucial knowledge can help direct their guests to a 12-Step meeting and thus strengthen their recovery. We here at High Watch Recovery Center find it paramount that those in professional healthcare and treatment positions understand the benefits of 12-Step meetings. 

Understanding the Relationship Between Professionals and 12-Step Meetings

In its very first printing of the principle text of AA (known to many as “the Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous), there is a forward titled ”the Doctor’s Opinion” by a doctor named William Silkworth. This forward was the forging of the relationship between professionals and 12-Step recovery.

This was a significant risk back then for a physician. Placing their name on an unproven, non-scientific text and claiming to have a solution to the alcohol addiction problem could have been career-ending. In his “Opinion,” Dr. Silkworth writes the following:

“If any feel that as psychiatrists directing a hospital for alcoholics we appear somewhat sentimental, let them stand with us a while on the firing line, see the tragedies, the despairing wives, the little children; let the solving of these problems become a part of their daily work, and even of their sleeping moments, and the most cynical will not wonder that we have accepted and encouraged this movement.”

Now, with this appeal, Dr. Silkworth is informing his colleagues that the 12-Step solution is not something that should be scoffed at. However, he is also not directing anyone in the professional arena away from their principal forms of treatment. The key is to find the balance between professional practice and 12-Step recovery, to benefit both parties.

How a 12-Step Meeting Can Aid in Any Treatment Plan

The misconception that 12-Step meetings may interfere with a professional’s primary practice should stop right here. There is no evidence for this fact. Rather, it is critical that professionals understand that 12-Step meetings can elevate their recovery mission both while their guest is in their care and beyond.

One of the benefits of guiding a guest to a 12-Step meeting is that you instantly offer them some accountability, and the ability to keep a guest on track is crucial. Another highly beneficial aspect of 12-Step programs is that they introduce a client to the concept of “rigorous honesty” and integrity. 

An individual that is truly engaged in a 12-Step program is more likely to follow an outside treatment plan, as well as open up honestly with a health care professional on the status of their situation. One way of looking at this is it creates a much-needed roadblock from relapse.

How to Introduce the Twelve Steps to Clients and Guests in Recovery

Because the benefits of a 12-Step program can be so profound, it is essential to feel comfortable introducing them to clients. It is also critical to be capable of handling some of the situations that may arise in the process.

One of the most accessible options that healthcare professionals have in offering the Twelve Steps to clients is literature. There are countless pamphlets and guides on 12-Step programs that you can offer clients and guests. These can be procured either through the local AA community or through a center like High Watch Recovery. Many places have a liaison that handles literature and professional settings directly. They will be able to guide you, and they will be almost always available for free.

This literature can also help professionals connect with the local 12-Step community. Its members will be more than willing to reach out to your guests that are struggling. They can answer questions on the Twelve Steps, such as spiritual, sponsorship, or support meeting questions. 12-Step programs were created with the primary purpose of helping those in need, so they can certainly help the healthcare professional as they potentially meet resistance to their 12-Step offerings.

Utilizing 12-Step Meetings for Long-Term Recovery

As healthcare professionals know, recovery is about much more than when their guest is present in their care. Recovery must carry with them beyond the doors of the various rehabs, treatment facilities, clinics, and recovery centers.

Another aspect that healthcare professionals know is that, sadly, recovery is never guaranteed. Believe us, we here at High Watch Recovery Center wish this weren’t so as well. However, we would never promote that untruth, and in fact, we implore professionals to take any recovery center that offers a guarantee with a grain of salt. 

However, while recovery is never guaranteed, it can be fortified and fostered for the best results with the Twelve Steps. Bill W. and Dr. Bob knew this when they made that pact all those years ago. Bill W. understood this when he sat as one of the first board members of High Watch Recovery Center. And High Watch Recovery Center remains an authority on this truth today.