Do the 12-Steps Really Work?

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This is a complicated and even controversial question in some circles. The short answer is yes. The long answer is also yes – but there are some things to consider. For many alcoholics and addicts, even if they have trauma or mental health issues, the 12-Steps have meant the difference between life and death.

The 12-Steps serve as the foundation of a life free from addiction that only grows more wonderful the longer we stay rooted in 12-Step work and active in the recovery community. Maybe not everyone agrees, but we are hard-pressed to find a better solution. At Jaywalker Lodge, the 12-Steps are the basis of what we do.

They touch every part of our lives and serve as an incredibly rewarding guide. We combine the 12-Steps with health awareness, physical activity, therapy, counseling, mindfulness training, service to others, and a close-knit and involved recovery community.

We have found time and time again that combining these practices and implementing them into our lives yields peace, freedom, and joy that we could not otherwise acquire – and which continues to increase day after day, year after year.

Okay. But Will the 12-Steps Work for Me?

We believe so. They worked for us, even after years of struggling to achieve long-term recovery. Even after trying everything else. Even after we “tried” the 12-Steps. We were lucky enough to get the chance to take them again here at Jaywalker Lodge.

We simply had to find the courage to hope again. We spent some real time understanding Step-1, making it personally meaningful to us, and then we were ready and able to proceed with the rest of the 12-Steps. At Jaywalker Lodge, helping those who experience chronic relapse and have difficulty achieving long-term recovery is our specialty. It’s our personal story.

It’s our mission. Even after trying everything else, we were able to discover the way to help make it stick – and we exist only to show others how to do what we did. The 12-Steps are the basis of that recovery. We simply had to have hope that it could work for us, if we could look at things a little differently.

Recovery is not a punishment for our past in addiction. It is the promise of a bright future and real hope for our lives. The 12-Steps are a design for living that really works. But that old cliche is true – the 12-Step program of recovery “only works if you work it.”

We have to love ourselves enough to do what is good for us. Sometimes that may be difficult work, but what it really amounts to is saving our lives by working the program of recovery. If you go to the doctor because you have a disease, he gives you medicine. The medicine may have temporary side effects, like a stomach ache, but they’re worth it to cure the disease.

We alcoholics and drug addicts have a disease. We aren’t bad people – we’re sick. Our disease is alcoholism, and the 12-Steps are the most effective medicine we have. Working the steps may seem uncomfortable at times, but this is just a temporary side effect. After implementing 12-Step work into our lives, we get a daily reprieve from our deadly disease, and we become able to live happy, joyous, and free.

Fine. But Can the 12-Steps Really Work for Me?

Yes! They can work for you, because they worked for us. And we all have the same disease – alcoholism and addiction. The same problem has the same solution, and though we are different people with unique lives and circumstances, we have two things in common.

First, we have alcoholism and addiction in common. Second – and this one’s good – we have the solution to alcoholism and addiction in common. If one man can do it, another man can do it.

Each of us may need different things to really grab hold of recovery. Some of us need to keep working with mental and emotional health professionals throughout recovery, to keep us well enough to stay involved in 12-Step work. We all need meetings and we all need to become part of the recovery community.

We take the 12-Steps with our sponsor, someone who really helps us understand them, but we all basically take the same 12-Steps. It is imperative that we do our best to be as hopeful, honest, open-minded, and willing as possible throughout the process. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.”

The book goes on to say that you must be honest with yourself and others, or else the road to recovery may be hard. But it’s often hard for us alcoholics and addicts to be honest, because it can be hard for us to see the truth.

That’s why we take the 12-Steps together. Two heads are better than one – and two hearts are even better than two heads. You deserve to live a life of abundance, joy, and meaning. We have found this kind of life through the 12-Steps, and we believe that you can, too.

Let us help you experience the freedom and fullness of a life in recovery. No matter what you think about yourself and your past, we believe what worked for us can work for you, too.

No matter how many times you have tried to recover from alcoholism and addiction, and no matter how many things you have tried, the people at Jaywalker Lodge have been in your shoes. We strive to address the specific issues that keep chronic relapsers from enjoying a beautiful life in recovery. Call us 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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