Are you thinking about joining a 12 step recovery program to help you overcome your addiction? Are you unsure on what the advantages of a 12 step recovery program are? To help learn about the advantages of a 12 step recovery program, I have interviewed therapist Dr. Ruthe Willis LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a 60+year old clinical social worker specializing in addictions. I have almost 40 years experience. Good grief! I worked for 10 years at NY Hospital in White Plains, NY, and have been in full time clinical work on my own since then. I grew up in an alcoholic family and it was only natural to become a social work with addicted people.”
What are the requirements for joining a 12-step recovery program?
“Anyone can join a 12-step recovery program. The only requirements are showing up, listening, and if you want to get something out of it, say something. Woody Allan said 80% of life is just showing up. He’s right. If you miss the 12-step recovery meeting you were going to attend, go to the next one. Kind of like if you get thrown from a horse, get back on right away.”
What are the advantages of a 12-step recovery program?
:The advantages of a 12 step recovery program are: 1. You make friends and have people to talk to about your addiction. 2. Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) recovery meetings are very structured and cover a large variety of subjects. 3. You can get a sponsor and usually stay in touch with them daily, for the first 90 days. 4. Many people attend 90 meetings in 90 days and that helps give focus to your day. You are with helpful people, see some people are worse off than you are, and you might find someone to admire and use as a role model. 5. You can travel around the world (or less) and find Bill W. meetings almost anywhere. Instant connections when you go to a new town or city.
I like combining a 12-step recovery programs with therapy. Twenty years ago AA members did not like anyone taking medication or getting therapy. The old timers felt therapy was either “wrong” or would lead you to the wrong place or to the wrong conclusion. Now, it’s been years since I have gotten someone who was told not to come see me.
In my practice, of relatively well functioning adults, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you are in or out of 12-step recovery program. Both “get well” with weekly therapy in the same amount of time.”
Should a 12-step program be combined with other forms of therapy in order to maximize its positive impact?
“Absolutely therapy should complement a 12-step recovery program. Therapy allows the client to work on personal issues in addition to issues that people bring up in group. Especially after 2 years of a 12-step recovery program people should go into therapy. By that time the addiction is healing and personal work on family, job, or other problems can be dealt with between the client and therapist.
In 12-step recovery programs there is no cross talk, so you will get advice from members outside of the meeting, not inside the meeting. I give lots of advice to my clients and work with those who want to maintain controlled drinking. By large we are successful, though many people return to me after 6 months or a few years to get back in the wagon.”
What advice would you like to leave for someone who is considering a 12-step program?
“My advice for someone joining is to get a sponsor of the same sex and listen carefully in the meetings. If a meeting is a total turnoff to you, change meetings till you find people to relate to.
Thank you Dr. Willis for doing the interview on the advantages of a 12 step recovery program. For more information on Dr. Willis or her work you can check out her website on http://www.alcoholanddepression.com.
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