12 Step Recovery = Taking Responsibility

stepsOccasionally I’ll hear someone criticize 12 Step Programs. One complaint about Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the myriad of other 12 Step recovery programs is they somehow help those recovering avoid taking personal responsibility.

That’s just so much BS, to put it bluntly.

My guess is the person, who is often a professional of one sort or another, has had no direct experience with the program or, perhaps, has been close to an addict who hasn’t recovered even though they’ve gone to 12 Step meetings.

The practicing addict is bound to be blaming anyone and everyone but themselves and if they are going to meetings I can well imagine they will blame the meetings, leading some to say 12 Steppers don’t take responsibility. It can be confusing for folks on the outside as it were.

But people who work the program all the way through will end up understanding that they are always and forever responsible for their own actions.

The most obvious place where 12 Steppers take responsibility is with their inventory and the sharing of that inventory (4th and 5th steps) and with the list of persons they’ve harmed and the amends they make (8th and 9th steps).

In fact, it’s been my experience that those truly in recovery are more apt to take responsibility, not only for their past, but for what happens in the present than many other people.

Sometimes someone will talk about the disease theory of addiction arguing that by calling addiction a disease is tantamount to letting folks off the hook entirely. Again, I say hogwash!

Assuming addiction is a disease, the 12 Steps are the treatment of that disease.  Part of working the steps successfully is taking personal responsibility for the damage we’ve done.

Even though there is less stigma about alcoholism and other addictions today then there was in the past, there’s still a whole bunch of confusion out there. And let’s face it, there are some who have their own program to promote and will attempt to do so by trashing the 12 Steps. There are also those who truly believe addicts should white knuckle it into recovery, perhaps perceiving some ‘moral virtue’ in that painful effort.

Yes, I have known a few people who recovered in some other way from their addiction. Not many, but that’s probably more about who I tend to hang out with than anything else.

What I have noticed is those who have truly recovered using something other than the 12 Steps have embraced their principals of honesty and personal responsibility. They also are open to the 12 Step programs – it just happens they’ve done it another way.

I always wonder about the people who grind on others needing to ‘take personal responsibility’ and trash the 12 Step programs as they do so. I wonder if they’re afraid or just plain angry. But it doesn’t really matter, and is probably none of my business anyway.

Your turn – have you ever heard someone say 12 Steppers don’t take responsibility for their actions? What’s your reaction to a statement like that? Tell us about it in comments.

Love, blessings and abundance,

Anne W. Powerfully Recovered



Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by rick manwaring

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