Can the 12-Steps Help with Other Addictions?

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Alcoholism and addiction are often misunderstood terms. There is a difference between a hard drinker and an alcoholic, although it is a subtle difference. To understand it, most people would have to be intimately familiar with what makes one an alcoholic. Addiction is another term that gets misused too often. 

Alcoholism and addiction are manifestations of the same disease. For ease of use, the disease is most often called alcoholism — the difference being that alcoholism can manifest with the symptoms of drinking or drug addiction. This may already be getting confusing, but reading the book Alcoholics Anonymous can go a long way in clarifying these terms.

Addiction is the scientific name for becoming chemically dependent on a substance or behavior. So addiction is also a real medical diagnosis of its own, and synonymous with the diagnosis of alcoholism. Nobody is really “addicted” to their favorite song or their favorite food, but chronic overeating and many other psychological and physical eating disorders can be addressed by an adapted version of the 12-Step program. It helps to use words properly so we do not exaggerate a trivial thing, or worse yet, undermine a potentially deadly disease. 

Defining a Disease

What makes the use of a substance or engagement in a behavior akin to a disease is a detailed criterion that is often made unclear by the fact that most alcoholism-style problems must be self-diagnosed for the 12-Step solution to work effectively — even though the disease itself may have medical, physical, and psychological symptoms. These symptoms should be addressed by the proper professional experts simultaneously with the practice of the 12-Step program. If you or someone you know has a problem with symptoms that are similar to alcoholism and addiction, seek professional advice to determine if a 12-Step solution is the right one for you. For many alcoholics, addicts, overeaters, chronic gamblers, and a myriad of other problems, the 12-Step method has proven to be life-saving. Though it is not always the only way to recover, and may not be right for everyone, it has helped millions of people across the globe.

The 12-Steps Are Highly Versatile

The 12-Step method and program of recovery have been in practice for well over 80 years. It was originally conceived to help alcoholics recover from alcoholism and was taken from concepts developed for this purpose. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) perfected the methods that had previously fallen short, and now sets the standard for 12-Step help groups. 

In fact, AA was so successful in treating alcoholics — who had never had a reliable solution to their disease before — that it has been adapted to fit many other diseases and conditions. The 12-Step program has proven itself successful in every arena in which it has been employed. Many people in 12-Step communities maintain that everyone, everywhere, should work the 12-Steps, just to see how much positive difference it can make in the lives of all who embrace it and do the work.

Recognizing that other diseases, problems, conditions, and behavioral addictions (as opposed to only substance-related addictions) were similar to the disease of alcoholism in crucial ways inspired people in need of a solution to adapt the 12-Steps to their specific issues. The 12-Step program has proven to be highly versatile and easily adaptable. Even now, we may still not have seen all that it can really do. Whatever the trouble seems to be, the 12-Steps seem to address the problem and provide a reliable basis for maintaining recovery from a great number of ills.

Other 12-Step Groups

When people think of 12-Step groups, Alcoholics Anonymous is the most common. But there is also Narcotics Anonymous, groups for overeaters or people with eating disorders, and groups for people with a gambling addiction. These are just the most well-known ones — dozens and dozens of other groups have formed up around the 12-Steps, adapting them to fit their chosen language and problems. 

The effectiveness and promise of 12-Step recovery have always had largely positive results. This is because the 12-Steps are designed to produce a psychic change and a vital spiritual experience which are paramount to lasting recovery. It’s hard to specifically quantify how they do this and why the 12-Steps work, but it’s plain to see that they do work. And in most cases, they work very well.

A Common Thread

Many of the ills addressed by the 12-Steps share common threads. They affect the body, mind, and spirit of the sufferer. There is some manifestation of a physical allergy or problem, some peculiar mental twist in sufferers that differentiates them from other people, and a spiritual malady that makes recovery near-impossible until it is addressed. Words like “ego,” “willpower,” and “self-control” are commonly misunderstood and thrown around — yet within 12-Step groups, these words are put in their proper context. The 12-Steps miraculously navigate the routes to understanding these things and providing growth in the necessary areas.

The psychic change and spiritual experience that come as a result of successfully and earnestly working a 12-Step program are what make recovery possible from a wide array of diseases that are similar to alcoholism. So far, the 12-Steps are the best, clearest, and most reliable way to produce these results in a large number of people suffering from a wide range of ills.

So, can the 12-Steps help with other addictions? It’s a more complex question than it seems at first glance. But for most people with certain problems and addictions, the answer is yes.

Alcoholism and addiction are a disease. They are not the only disease of their type, and alcohol and substance abuse are not the only symptoms of the disease. Addictions to substances or behaviors can ruin lives, leaving the sufferer unable to cope or recover alone. If you or someone you know is struggling to recover from a specific condition like alcoholism or addiction, there is a solution and help is available now. The 12-Steps are specially designed to help people recover and reclaim their lives. They have proven to be effective for a variety of addictions by producing the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that make recovery possible. Jaywalker Lodge is here to help people begin their recovery journey as successful as possible. We specialize in helping men who have been unable to find success in recovery, despite an earnest desire to do so. No matter what you’ve tried before, there is hope. Call Jaywalker Lodge today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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