12 step programs deliver recovery from addiction to their members, either taking on the job from start to finish or as a maintenance program after the member has completed a course at a rehab.

Recovery as a human being

But they deliver so much more as well. Once the member has gone through withdrawals from the addiction and acquired the tools to remain abstinent in spite of any cravings (which diminish), over one to two years, then the program becomes one of self-improvement – recovery as a human being.

Let’s assume a member was a moral pillar of society before they hit the bottle or indulged in any one of the harmful addictions. But they lost their moral compass bearings as a result of the addiction. That member will enjoy recovery to the point they were at before the addiction took a hold. But no one is perfect, so there will always be room for further improvement from that point.

Deep-seated emotional and spiritual disease

When we look at addiction as a deep-seated emotional and spiritual disease, then the recovery involves letting out our emotions such as the joy of appreciation of our children, and continually reducing bad traits such as anger.  It also involves appreciation of greater powers such as energy and nature, for example.

If we take a member who started on the addictive path as a teenager, then the moral compass may never have been established. So the self-improvement aspect of the program will go much further than recovery to the point at which their addiction took hold. For them, recovery will mean the establishment of a better character than they ever possessed. It could be surrogate parenting. The spiritual side could be a whole new world for them.

Buy a car

Sometimes there is relationship recovery where members get their spouses or partners back. This may be the case even if neither one actually left, physically.   There is material recovery as well, of course, as finances are gradually repaired. Here, too, the mending may go well beyond the point where the member stood before the addiction took hold. Once credit cards and other debts have been paid off, there may be resources available to buy a car, for example.

Let the real you emerge

I’m still enjoying a recovery after nearly 20 years in a program. The process enables the real you to emerge. I’ve always been a writer, but now I have become an author. I was once a choirboy but last winter in southeast Asia I sang with a couple of blues bands on Bali. I gave my rendition of House of the Rising Sun with the Cooltones and Moko & Friends. On such occasions the bands kindly ask; “what is the second song you would like to sing.” They allow you two. I replied: “I only have one song.” But now I am learning Country Roads as well. And I am looking forward to painting once more, something I haven’t done since A level art at school.

The journey of a recovery in a program need never end. If you do it right it never gets boring and it becomes a way of life.