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12 Steps To Freedom From 12-Steppism

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12 Steps to Freedom from 12-Steppism

Inge Berge

Are you or a loved one struggling with substance abuse problems? Have you tried to stand by and support the problem drinker in your life, only to see him or her return to the bottle over and over again following periods of difficult, compulsive sobriety? Have you ever wondered why it seems futile to argue with "an alcoholic" about his alleged inability to let go of his habit; to regain a relaxed attitude towards his substance of choice and to life in general? Have you spent endless hours in Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon meetings only to feel like your life is still dominated by your relationship with alcohol? If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, you may have a serious 12-stepping problem.

Americans employ a singularly odd approach to drug and alcohol problems: faith healing. Where much of the rest of the industrial world has allowed their health and legal systems to evolve past the magical realm and into the pragmatic when confronting substance abuse, Americans still insist that the proper way to solve addictive behavior is to flock to church basements to pray and recite slogans in unison with "other addicts," and declaring yourself to be just like them, powerless, "in recovery" - forever. An estimated 97% of treatment centers in the USA still rely on the 12-step method, despite solid evidence that this method yields no meaningful long term result for almost anyone, and can cause severe, lasting psychological damage for the many who repeatedly try it and fail each time.

Meanwhile, other approaches such as harm reduction, brief interventions, guided moderation strategies, motivational enhancement therapy and social skills training are gaining ground most everywhere else, with much better results for societies and individuals alike.

Why does America insist on remaining in the dark ages with regard to addiction treatment? The answer is multi-faceted and complex, and must be mined from larger political, social and economical arenas. However, one key part of the equation routinely goes unspoken: our collective dodecamania is a major stumbling block to progress. Religion evolves a lot slower than science, and as long as we allow addiction issues to remain firmly seated in the religious sector, results will continue to be scant. Only when we finally banish 12-stepping's kneejerk assumptions and counter-intuitive methodology from dominating our hospitals, jails, courtrooms, schools and treatment centers will we gain headway in understanding the machinations of "addiction."

This is why I have taken it upon myself to devise the simple program which follows.

By adhering to these simple steps, addicts and the other addicts who currently "treat" them will gain tremendous insight into their own situations, and finally have an opportunity to take charge of their problems and live full, happy lives - free from the oppressive notion that the highest attainable human ideal available to them is to identify as An Addict, keep going to AA and Not Drink.

The program is designed chiefly for those with previous indoctrination into AA and the 12 Step religion, but the principles outlined can be of benefit to any reader with an interest in substance abuse issues. Always remember: "It Works If You Work It!"


1.) "We have admitted we are made powerless by 12-Steppism Ð'- that our faith in faith healing has become unmanageable and counterproductive."

The first step to recovery from recovery is to admit that the 12 Steps have influenced your mindset in such a way that you have forfeited your ability to make rational, reasoned inquiry into your own situation. This first step is instrumental in arresting your dangerous, counterproductive yet ingrained habit of wasting endless time on the bizarre myths embodied in the 12 Steps.

2.) "We came to understand that 12-Step programs could drive us to complete insanity."

Like a voodoo subscriber who fends off the devil by shutting his eyes and brandishing the crucifix around his neck, you have come to rely on the 12 Steps - not to escape from alcoholism, but to perpetuate your own inability to do so. To help you conceptualize how you have in fact put yourself on the fast track to madness, think about the old timers' nonsensical stories about their hysterical, completely unresolved relationship with alcohol. Better yet, post yourself near the revolving door of a treatment center, and observe the clients as they return for their 200th attempt at making the program "work for them" without changing their approach a single iota. Ruminate on the lunacy of the old-timers as they rant and rave about their 5-, 10-, or 20-year coins, the importance of "working a good program" and "letting your sponsor do your thinking for you." Think, as clearly as you can, about what it is your group is asking you to base your life's happiness on Ð'- worship of a dead leader, AA-founder Bill Wilson, whom you have been led to believe understood your drinking problem, which of course makes zero sense. Gaining a better understanding of your 12-Steppism in this way will become a great tool in helping you escape from it.

3.) "Made a decision to stop turning over our will to the care of a God or Higher Power we neither felt nor understood."

Reclaim your Free Will! A major part of the process of unshackling your mind from your ritualistic faith in the 12 steps is to regain trust in your own world-view. One thing your 12-stepping habit cannot withstand is your very own unwashed brain. Restoring your senses in this manner will allow you to confront 12-step dogma for what it really is. Once you have mastered this step, you will once again be able to enjoy the exquisite sensation of making rational choices and engaging in critical, skeptical thinking, rather than entrusting major life decisions to a micro-managing quasi-deity of the most tenuous kind.

4.) "Made a searching and fearless critical analysis of AA and the 12 Steps."

In this step, you will examine closely the particular beliefs your program has imposed on you. A big part of your 12-step habit has been relying on unexamined statements and truisms, and now it's time to put your freshly regained analytical skills to use. Where you previously allowed yourself to be seduced by magic



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