If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic.-Alcoholics Anonymous, fourth edition, p. 44
Most people don’t consider trying a 12 step meeting because they are on a winning streak in life. So the question becomes why you would consider a 12 step program?
As mentioned before, you are encouraged to engage in as many recovery resources available and make sense for you. However, the 12 steps are excellent no matter what treatment course you’ve chosen.
The Conditions for Recovery
The 12 steps cater to those who cannot quit on their own, no matter how hard they have tried and despite growing consequences resulting from their behavior. Most ordinary (“Earth”) people don’t understand what this means. They tell you, “Stop drinking… Don’t keep gambling when you are in debt. Etc. Etc.”
The people who may benefit from 12 steps are the ones who hear useless advice like this and have become frustrated as to why they can’t apply it in their lives. In other words, their willpower is completely failing around a particular area of their life, and they are completely baffled. Their resolve may still be working fine in other affairs, like work or school, but they can’t leave it alone when it comes to their problem behavior.
In the West, when your willpower cannot stop your mind from engaging in a behavior, you begin to think you are defective. But I think the opposite is valid here. You’ve reached a point where the 12 steps, and their associated path for recovery, can begin to “click” for you and bring a whole new meaning and perspective to your life.
When you admit defeat and no longer rely on yourself for everything, you’ve reached a point where grace can begin working, and profound improvements can find fertile soil in your life.
It may sound all weird and mystical now. It’s too much a secret that the more we get out of our way, the more our higher power provides us without the onslaught of effort we used to apply. I call it grace. You can call it whatever makes sense to you.
It may sound odd to hear that you are in such a bad state that the 12 steps can make sense for you. I think it’s one of the luckiest things that happened to me. You may not understand the full extent of this painful blessing until after you get through to the shore of recovery/sobriety.
However, from my experience, the freedom from not relying on sheer willpower to solve all of my life’s problems is a freedom no one should miss. It takes action to understand. In a perhaps twisted sort of way, you are already halfway there because you have arrived at a hellish state where the willpower you relied on for so long is no longer working.
The other half of recovery uses the 12 steps to get out of that hell, see a new way to live and apply the steps where willpower failed.
12 Steps Programs are NOT only for extroverts
Newcomers sometimes get the assumption that everyone in the program is outgoing and gregarious. There are a variety of personality types, including quieter/introverted types. The introverts are not shunned and welcomed like anyone else.
Usually, newcomers don’t want to talk much due to shame and guilt over what brought them in. No one forces forcing you to talk. You can sit and listen and leave immediately.
The most talkative have usually been around a while or are natural extroverts. They aren’t given “better methods” just by being more conversational and a people-person. You will gravitate towards others like you naturally. You will meet others as introverted as you or, more so, with whom you can relate and understand their experience.
Don’t be led to false assumptions about which personalities do better with the 12 steps or not. It is not one size fits all. You can decline to share if asked.
To sum up, a primary component of the 12 steps is the acceptance of complete defeat. Although you may have a grasp of other areas of your life, your will is useless when it comes to your problem behavior. That understanding of your problem doesn’t need to be an immediate acceptance. You can still attend and learn more without needing to fully “buy-in.”
Second, you don’t need to have an outgoing personality type for 12 steps programs to work for you. Put aside the socialite overtones of meetings that you may have seen in movies. There are monotone, shy types who have changed their lives through the steps, just as well as the fast-talking social butterfly.
These are only a few reasons to join and not nearly comprehensive. That said, I’ve noticed that they sometimes hold people back from connecting with a group.