What is 12-Step Recovery?

 

12-steps-recovery.newlife

As a seminary graduate and pastor, I was skeptical about much of psychology and recovery programs. I did learn a little more when I watched My Name is Bill W.–the story of the man who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous–but not much. I suspected that group meetings were touchy-feely, superficial gripe sessions that allowed addicts to blame everyone else in their lives for their problems. My greatest reservation stemmed from the commitment to speak of the generic ‘higher power’ instead of acknowledging Jesus Christ as the true life-changing power.

My views changed immediately and dramatically when a new job required a visit to a substance abuse rehab center. I found myself sitting in a group therapy session with men and women from their late teens to 60’s. They came from upper class homes, middle class working families, and the streets. I was amazed that they treated each other as true peers. Their pointed questions and frank confessions scared me, but I recognized that this is what real conversion looks like’people struggling with real guilt having no other hope than experiencing genuine rescue through faith in Jesus Christ. In short, they were living in true Christian community.

12-step recovery is biblical:

In my personal Bible study, I have found the principles that supported the steps. I finally became convinced that the steps were biblical when I recognized that Paul made his confession in 1 Timothy 1:15 as the result of completing the work of the 4th step: ‘Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.’ In verses 8-11, Paul outlines the basis for a searching moral inventory: the 10 Commandments. He then confesses, ‘I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man’.’ In verse 15, Paul then explains why he can complete his moral inventory without fear: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’of whom I am the worst.’ Later, I recognized the prodigal son experienced the admission expressed in the first step when he came to his senses. The 5th step is completely in keeping with James’ instruction in his letter: ‘Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.’ The 12 Steps help addicts face their sin and apply the remedy of the Gospel.

12-step recovery is progressive:

Working the steps requires following a process that moves the addict from a life of isolation to healthy relationships with others. In working the first 3 steps, you recognize the futility of your efforts to overcome your addiction by your own efforts and acknowledge your total dependence upon the Lord for help. In steps 4 through 6, you face the reality of your own brokenness due to sin and declare your readiness to have God transform you through the Gospel. In steps 7, 8, and 9, you work to repair the relationships that have been broken as a result of your addiction. In the final 3 steps, you work to advance the work already by growing in your knowledge of God and sharing what you’ve experienced with other addicts

12-step recovery is not self-help:

Anyone who hopes to end addiction must work the steps personally, but cannot work the steps without help from others. Groups urge members to find a sponsor/mentor who has already worked the steps or a partner who can work them at the same time in order to provide accountability for working the steps. Demonstrating a willingness to be in relationship through the steps is one of the most important foundations for completing the work. You are choosing to end the hiding and isolation. You must begin by deepening your relationship with God first. If I don’t really trust Jesus, then I won’t be able to trust His people. In the group meeting, you invite the other members to walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. Knowing the God Who has walked that valley first is essential.

12-step recovery is an adventure:

The function of a 12-step group is not a precise science, as group veterans will attest. There are healthy and unhealthy groups. A healthy group fosters wholeness as the members progress through the steps. An unhealthy group permits members to repeat the same confessions they have made previously. Healthy groups can have unproductive meetings and unhealthy groups can have productive meetings.

The single greatest factor influencing a group’s health and effectiveness is the commitment of each member to work the steps. Members must help each other face the external and internal triggers that make up their patterns of addiction. Each person experiences moments of strength and of weakness’moments when it seems much easier to return to the life of denial and blame-shifting than to keep growing by answering that difficult question that has just been posed.

Following the well-trod path outlined by the 12 Steps will help you to escape the pattern of self-defeating behavior that has dominated your life and prevented you from experiencing wholeness through faith in Christ.

If you struggle with alcohol or drugs, we can help — call 800-NEWLIFE (800-639-5433).

If you struggle is with sexual integrity, please see Every Man’s Battle.

80/20 Obedience

Steve Arterburn

One man is silent when called to speak. Another’s speech is seasoned with anger, bitterness and everything negative rather than grace.

 

Men, the gospel of our Lord calls each of you to a higher standard. Each of you, however, has become too highly skilled at setting aside God’s clear instructions for our lives, are choosing a path of disobedience instead.

 

Don’t amend God’s word with the latest trends, and don’t ignore the call of God’s Spirit to our own plans and purposes. Selective obedience isn’t true obedience. In fact, it’s a recipe for disaster. Even if you seek to follow God 80 percent of the time, the 20 percent of the time you don’t will sink you every time.

 

As the apostle Paul warned Timothy, many men serve their own interests by having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ For instance, men know when they are sexually violating God’s will, but they continue to indulge their sin anyway. Husbands know when they’re tearing down their spouses, but they continue the verbal tirades. Fathers know when their kids are just dying for some time with Dad, but other demands always take priority.

 

By way of contrast, when God’s man is tempted to enter that 20% zone, he does what God would have him do’even if it’s less convenient or not as immediately gratifying. Guys, one of the great ironies of the Christian life is that freedom comes through obedience. Dare to live freely in joyful submission to your Lord today!

Finances and Recovery

How would you answer the question, “Am I doing all I can in my recovery today?” If you strongly respond in the affirmative, then skip down to the closing paragraph, you are probably due a reward. On the other hand, if you find yourself reframing the question”Am I doing what others perceive as my trying (whether or not it is the most I can do)?” Then read on, you are probably struggling to maintain sobriety. I pray these thoughts will help.

Intention, no matter how good, misleads an individual to think he is on the right path when he really is not. Personal finance is an area that is not openly discussed; yet most acting out behaviors take money. Without this resource a sexually compulsive man can not purchase the means to feed his addiction. But expanding recovery behaviors around finances can play a large role in the journey to health.

Just think of the full amount your acting out behaviors cost you. The purchase of pornography, phone sex and prostitutes constitutes a direct type of expense. But don’t overlook the indirect costs like guilt offerings, (remember the stone Kobe Bryant bought his wife) legal fees, and child support. If you add the time lost while acting out, as an earning opportunity, the overall cost is phenomenal. One member of a therapy group estimated his cost to be half a million dollars!

Now, using adjusted thinking to put the most into your recovery let me suggest two proactive paths for your journey. First, set up financial accountability with a peer in recovery. Here are some suggestions:

  • Only use checks or a credit card and have your accountability partner review the bank or credit company statement each month
  • Disclose to both your spouse (if married) and accountability partner all sources of your income
  • Delete any hiding places for extra cash
  • Do not carry much cash with you

Being open and honest with your financials could save your sobriety. Second, budget for recovery by establishing a line item in your planned expenditures. Things to consider can include:

  • Counseling for individual, group and/or couples therapy
  • Literature to gain understanding of sexual addiction and stay abreast of sobriety techniques
  • Workshops for support and connection with the larger recovering community
  • Giving to help others in their journey of recovery

You spent money on the illness. Why not use your resources, now, for your health?

Doing whatever it takes with your finances will kick your structure into high gear. The money you both earn and save will be a blessing as you will be able to reward your sobriety with appropriate gifts at significant milestones. The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God (has given) us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Are you doing the best you can today for Him today?

Bob Damrau, MS, LPC

For more help please see Every Man’s Battle.
And if you are married, please join us for our next New Life Weekend with your spouse.