Finding Freedom from Addiction Through 12-Step Recovery

Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Its sole mission is to make our lives a living hell. It brings along with it a number of its companions: denial, rationalization, and blame, to name but a few. Living with addiction is like living in a prison – one in which one feels there is no escape.
12-Step recovery has helped many people escape from addiction.I know all too well what it means to live this way. I recall how my addiction made me do things I would never otherwise do. I stole, cheated and lied; all so that I could feed the insatiable hunger within. There were times, however, when I was able to see the damage that had been done in my life. It was at these times that I was able to get a glimpse outside the walls that imprisoned me.

Finding Recovery Through the 12-Step Process

For me, freedom came when I went to my first 12-Step meeting. I was urged to attend by my outpatient counselor. I remember it like it was yesterday. Nervous and shaking, I recall walking up to the church hall doors. I looked inside and saw a group of young adults inside, laughing and having a good time. This couldn’t be a (12-Step) meeting I said to myself. “Where are all the junkies with needles falling out of their arms?” I wondered. I returned to my car and saw another person arrive. I asked him what was going on inside and he responded, “It’s a (12-Step) meeting.”

That was all I needed to hear. I walked through those doors, and little did I know, my life was about to change forever. I quickly embraced the program and became like a sponge, absorbing all it had to offer.

Alternatives to 12-Step Programs

Over the years, I have met many people who have attended 12-Step programs. Some stay and some go. I will be the first to admit that for some, 12-Step programs do not work. This could be for a variety of reasons. Some people are uncomfortable with opening up in front of a group. Some choose other methods – religion or formal addiction treatment.

One ingredient that makes a difference and that is found in 12-Step programs is empathy. It is the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. It’s like saying to someone, “I know. I’ve been there. I can relate.”

You may be struggling with addiction. Just know that there is addiction help available. Sometimes we have to be willing to take a “healthy risk” and be open to a new way of doing things. If doing things your way hasn’t helped, then consider the possibility of opening your mind to a new path. If I had not been willing to step through those church hall doors, I would never know the life that I have today.

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2012, April 30). Finding Freedom from Addiction Through 12-Step Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 16 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

May, 8 2012 at 7:04 am

Great post, Karl! Lots of honesty, integrity and healing in your words.

April, 5 2013 at 1:47 am

Great to hear about your new life but I caution anybody that 12 steps is the solution. I spent 12 years lost in meeting hell and lost my sanity, my intellect and a lot of money. Slowly working my way out of that hell, so my message is that 12 step is not for all yet sadly there is no exit path so be very careful before you enter.

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