Blog Entry

12 Step Recovery Programs

Posted on: July 25, 2008 7:57 pm
The 12 Step Recovery Programs have been around for a long time and have helped countless numbers of people deal with a wide variety of addictions, obsessive/compulsuve behaviors, and life problems.  I will present a Bible-based 12 Step program, but understand that secular programs are useful and successful, and I have participated in both.  I am presenting one option for those who want to undertake the challenge of recovery.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: September 5, 2008 1:57 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

Luke 15:18-20
"I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I
have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be
called your son'. . . But while he was still a long way off, his father
saw him and was filled with compassion for him."

It is difficult to think and feel about ourselves in Godly ways. Many of
us think that the prodigal son got it right. He had a well-practiced speech:
"I am no longer worthy". How like our speeches to ourselves! If
you hear about your unworthiness often enough, especially in childhood,
and if you internalize the speech thoroughly, it becomes a part of you.
Many of us know this particular speech so well that we can feel unworthy
for no particular reason. We do not feel unworthy because of something we
have done or said. We feel unworthy because of who we are. Many of us even
think that the more unworthy we feel, the more likely the Father will be
to welcome us back home!

But the Father responds quite differently from the prodigal's expectations.
The Father was 'filled with compassion' and he ran to his son and he kissed
him. When the prodigal finally got his speech out, the Father did not spend
time arguing the point. Instead he 'honored' the son with a robe, a ring
and a feast. He treated the prodigal in ways designed to build a very different
kind of self understanding.

Our goal is to learn to think and feel about ourselves in ways that are
consistent with the way God thinks and feels about us. God's perspective
is a surprising contrast to our own. God does not join our internal chorus
which is so persistent at proclaiming our unworthiness. Instead God says
"You are my child. You are loved!"

Lord, I have not learned to think and feel about myself in healthy ways.
Teach me to think and feel about myself in ways that are consistent with
the way you think and feel about me!
Help me to listen when you say "I love you".
Help me to take it in.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: August 5, 2008 5:33 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

C Wilbur MD.,

I would like to publicly thank you for reminding me that thouroughness in the performance of the 12 steps is paramount. Your bringing up of undone steps reminded me that I myslef had had a bitter disagreement and fight with someone in the months since I got sober. Thanks for bringing up your very timely questions. It helped me to examine my own behavior and helped me in the process.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2008 9:05 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

BTW, to any and all who come here, I don't have all the answers.  I have grown and changed greatly because of those who walked God's path before me and I am hoping to be of help to anyone who chooses to walk the path I have embarked upon.  God is the answer, I believe, but we have a spiritual enemy that would stop us from trusting God for help and we have people in our lives who have hurt us deeply and may never take responsibility.  Someone who claims to be a Christian cannot curse another person; even Satan quoted scripture, but I doubt he'd do much to help us in recovery!  (He quoted it wrong, as well, knowing how a twisted scripture can hurt.)  God's children do not curse one another; they try their best to follow what Jesus taught us about proper conduct and relationships.

It's hard work, it's painful work, it's healing work, and it takes time, but it is worth it, I assure you of that.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your path."

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: August 3, 2008 9:00 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

C Wilbur,

That goes for me as well. You will be in my prayers from now on and PM me anytime!

God Bless you.

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2008 8:49 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

Dr Wilbur, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing on this issue.  Countless numbers of people have been hurt by addicts, alcoholics, or other obsessive/compulsive behaviors of people.

I have never had anyone who has worked on or claims to have completed the 12 steps in my life come to me seeking amends for the wrongs inflicted upon me. I won't get into them.

If anyone tells you they have "completed" the 12 steps, they never worked their program seriously.  Look at Steps 11 and 12--continued to take personal inventory and when wrong, promptly admitted it and carried the message to others in need.  We are never done making mistakes therefore we are never done making amends and taking inventory.  it is a life long process, not a procedure or event.  I've seen many people "attend" program meetings for all the wrong reasons--self-justification, self-gratification, self-centeredness on their problems only, seeking a partner to comfort them or get sympathy--and never do the work.  Unfortunately, these people tend to be self-righteous and don't seek out with any real thought or energy the Step 8 work.

Again this is why I prefer a Bible based program, because it should make someone look deeper and act on what God has done for them.  "Comfort others with the same comfort that God has shown you."  "Always esteem others to be better than yourself."  "If your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go reconcile with your brother first."  Anyone who accepts the forgiveness of God and does not take responsibility for his continuing or unresolved sin against others should soon find himself convicted of such error.  "Forgive one another just as God has forgiven you."  "If you do not forgive your brother, neither will my Father in heaven forgiv eyou."  We cannot take God's forgiveness for granted or as license to sin or ignore past sins.  Whether a secular or Bible based program, we are never done, ever, and with a Bible based program, we can't accept God's forgiveness without the conviction of the Holy Spirit about what harm we have done to others.

I can attend meetings and become a sober alcoholic; I can go to a church and just take up space in a pew; I can sleep in a garage, but that won't turn me into a car.  You are right to eliminate contact with unrepentant, sober alcoholics.  The harm will continue, and you are not obligated to suffer with people who are not changing the root of their behaviors.  But don't be too quick to be angry at God about the conduct of sober alcoholics; if they are not sincere, they are not forgiven.  God knows the heart and will not indulge wickedness.  If they are sincerely trying to work the program and live as Christians, they can still be slow in learning and that is when I would help them by speaking the truth in love and turning a brother away from sin (these things we are told in the Bible about admonishing others--our silence doesn't help them or us and is not what God has taught).  You are stuck evaluating the trustworthiness and growth of someone who claims to be working a program.  You must also evaluate your ability to withstand those uncalled for, inappropriate venomous responses.  Sometimes we must attend to our own healing before we can risk the reconciliation.  I am personally dealing with this in my own family--a sober alcoholic that I carry a deep and lifelong hurt over who remains un-Christian and unrepentant.  I have made amends to this person for my part in the problems, but there is no acknowledgement on the part of the other person for any wrong done on their part or any willingness to forgive me.  I am personally doing a Bible study on Bitterness to help me heal because I may never be able to reconcile with this person and there is pain and anger there which are not healthy for me.  The best I can do is my own work with God to let Him heal me and pray He reaches the other person.  It doesn't always happen.  But we don't have to let bitterness and anger harm us or separate us from God because of their unrepentance.  "As much as depends on you, be at peace with all people." (Romans)  It doesn't ALL depend on us, we are responsible only for our part, not theirs.  From there we are told not to keep company with those who live without regard to their impact on others or their sin (Proverbs, I and II Corinthians, Romans).

I have realized in reading today that I am MORE than angry, indignant even at God for issuing someone who calls to him in  a moment of dispair and repentness for forgivenss and no matter the harm his forgivness and mercy are immediate  even though they have not  bothered to follow through with coming to the human they harmed unmercifully with the same.

If someone has truly accepted Christ into their hearts, they will become MORE, not LESS, sensitive to how they effect others.  It is not a true Christian if the person is not indwelled by the Holy Spirit who convicts us all of our sins; if someone can  ignore the Holy Spirit's conviction, that person has reason to question whether or not he has truly been saved and forgiven.  "You will know them by their fruits."  Realize that some people 'get it' later than others, but you do not have to subject yourself to pain while waiting for the 'light to go on.'  That is enabling the user and emotionally endangering yourself.  "Do not let a root of bitterness grow up in you."  We have to heal and trust in the Lord in spite of some people.

It is not selfish to protect yourself while you are healing and growing, just don't leave your walk with the Lord because of another person's lack of growth.  You may hear he or she is 'working' the program, but either they are only doing surface work or just haven't been at it long enough to search themselves deeply enough. 

Let me share a link to the resources I am using to get over the bitterness I have with those who believe they were justified in harming me: 

I am starting the study on Recovery from Bitterness and will also do the Recovery from Broken Relationships.  People may harm me; many recovered abusers have made amends to me and I have made amends to many and the reconciliation has been nothing short of a miracle from God.  But I still have some people in my life who in their minds have never harmed me (even those who perpetrated physical violence against me believe there was nothing wrong with it because I did not need a doctor's care as a result--yep, denial is a powerful and dangerous thing and I've left them behind!  Still working on the forgiveness part, but not the reconciliation part!

I will keep you in my prayers as well.  If you want to work through this, feel free to PM me and I will give you contact info for me and help you find sources of help and talk through some of this and point out those I know who may also be helpful.  None of us gets through this alone and God hasn't given blanket permission to unrepentant people to continue to do harm.  Keep God separate from people--He's perfect, we're not even close! (Captain Obvious here!)  And I will do the work needed to post help for those who are harmed by addicts/alcoholics, whether they are working a program or not.

Thank you, your input has been invaluable.  Please feel free to offer more questions or suggestions and PM me if you want.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2008 8:47 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

I cannot physically attend due to a life threatening illness.  I am on my own. But thank you.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: August 3, 2008 8:23 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

C Wilbur,

Don't give up! Trust that God loves every one of us. I am not a wise person and really don't have any answers for you but please continue to pray and read the Bible. Attend Co-dependency groups with a new determination. Attend the for YOURSELF and your own recovery. No other reason even stands a chance of succeeding.

I am praying for you.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2008 8:11 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

Thank you for sharing everything you have, but I find no comfort which for some reason I still find on occasion I seek.

Since: Jun 30, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2008 8:08 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

Keeping it real  I was not without fault, I've accepted my share of repsonsibility in the issue with this person. The communication break down escalated to ugly. This person couldn't or wouldn't  accept my feelings as valid. And worse this was in the beginning of this persons recovery and christianity. Showed me no compassion no understanding and wouldn't concede that I had any validity to my feelings or the incident.   I tried over and over  to explain my feelings about the incidents leading upto and beyond  the final day of  contact to no avail, basically I was dismissed, I was called filthy vulgur names and as I said in an earlier post basically I given an evil hope by this person that was in essence a "curse"  in a very  vile and venomous way. 

I have attended Celebrate Recovery  co-dependency groups and until recently continued to read my CR bible. Circumstances as they are now prohibit me from attending.

Basically my faith in everything is shaken in dispair, anger and I am hopeless that I will ever find peace. The door is shut and the windows closed  I feel the heaviness in carrying myself and I can't see the footprints in the sand anymore. 

Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2008 7:45 pm

12 Step Recovery Programs

Dr Wilbur, you are so right in bringing up this topic!

So in other words the person harmed has to wait for the recovering person's timeline and hope they come to the conclusion that there is in fact other people they injured  to make amends? That seems almost as bad as the original injuries.  An injured person basically should just get over it no matter how bad the damage was

There is a saying within the program:  "You are only as sick as your secrets."  This is meant to encourage someone in recovery to come clean about everything.  But the same idea applies to people harmed.  If you never attempt to deal with the injury, you will suffer with the baggage that comes with it.  Try two things:  1) Approach the person and bring it up yourself.  If the person is working the program, that person should take it to heart, discuss with you, seek guidance from the sponsor, and take action.  A Bible based program has an extra benefit here:  "Humble yourself before the Lord and He shall lift you up."  A Christian working the program should have a mind toward reconciliation with parties he injured and with parties that injured him and there should be no limit to willingness to reconcile, regardless of the facts.

Some people will feel injured when the intent was not such; in a Bible based program, someone in recovery should care enough about others to help them with their pain without arguing over who was at fault.  And "I'm sorry you misunderstood me" doesn't cut it!  That's a cop out; help the other person with his pain and examine yourself for any contribution you made to it, regardless of how small.  "As much as depends on you, be at peace with all people."  We have an obligation to the same compassion for others that God has shown to us.

I know I use the word "should" throughout this discussion.  Personal growth occurs at different rates in different people.  And whether we are in a secular 12 step program or a Bible based program, we are still all flawed humans.  We will respond emotionally to how the subject is brought to us, and sometimes that will be inappropriate on our part.  Does that make the injured party responsible for the process?  In truth, if an injured party seeks to initiate the conversation, thought must be given to how best to achieve healing, if indeed, healing is what is sought.  If the intent of the injured party is a masked form of vindictiveness, that effort approached that way will not likely succeed.  Might I suggest this:  Make a short, simple, nonjudgmental statement of what the person said or did and how you felt or the impact it had--"When you (describe the situation and words or actions of the offender), I felt (describe your emotions honestly at that moment) and I (describe the effect, if any, that occurred in your life to your detriment--I lost an article of value, the companionship of a friend, a financial loss, etc.).  Do you remember that incident?"  Let the conversation proceed from there.  You take a risk of not getting what you need from the person, but base your choice on this:  Is this person actively working a program or did the person just stop the addictive behavior?  If you approach someone who has not been in the program long or is not working it according to the standards set out here (has a sponsor, attends regular meetings over a long period of time--at least 6 months), that person may not be in any way prepared to deal with your honesty and your pain.  Choose your timing and your words to support your chances of success.  Be prepared for those people who just will not take responsibility if you approach someone who has not been working the program long or not at all. 
Give someone in recovery a chance to build a foundation of life change, but don't keep your pain a secret.  If you need to wait before approaching someone, and the pain is too great, seek help for yourself in the meantime.  Share it with someone.  Discuss your plans to seek amends.  Try a 12 step program for codependents if the abuse has been from someone close and/or over a long period of time.

I need to thank you at this point for making me think that posting only from the point of view of the person in recovery is insufficient and that I need to address the healing for codependents as well.  Please consider reviewing the links I posted back on page 1 because many of them have help for those effected by the alcoholic, drug addict, or otherwise unhealthy obsessive/compulsive behavior of others.  I will expand the blog to include healing sources for those people as well.

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