Why I Hated the 12 Steps

I Hated 12 Step. Yeah, I said it. I’m a recovering addict and I hated 12 Step.

My first 12 Step Experience

My first experience with 12 Step was when I was 19. I had put myself in the psych ward for hurting myself and while I was there, I was honest about my drug history, which landed me in chemical dependency classes and their version of a 12 Step program.

I wasn’t using at the time, so I was upset that they would require me to attend. I didn’t come to be treated for an addiction. Who were they to tell me what I needed?

There, all of the people who needed meetings of any kind went to the same one. Gamblers, addicts, alcoholics and anyone who needed 12 Step all in the same place. I didn’t relate to the others. At the time, I was young and closed minded–especially since I was so angry at having to be there in the first place.

I justified my opposition with excuses. I didn’t drink to begin with. I’d never gambled. I didn’t have a food addiction. And I wasn’t even using drugs anyway so just why did I have to be there? Not to mention I was still a teenager and everyone else in the meeting was at least 10 years my senior. No, 12 steps, you aren’t an effective method for me.

I’m a recovering addict and I hated 12 Step.

After my month in the hospital I was released and I walked away from 12 Step intending never to return. By then, I really hated 12 Step! Wasn’t it just a place where people gathered to tell war stories, justify their problems, and glorify their addictions? I mean, that was my experience.

Because I was so judgmental, I never considered that maybe this wasn’t the reality of 12 Step. I never even considered that maybe this wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. What did it matter to me anyway? I didn’t need to go to meetings. I wasn’t using anymore, so what was the point.

A Decade in My Addiction

Well I didn’t stay clean for long, and when I did relapse I didn’t quit again for a very long time. In fact, I didn’t get clean for good until I was 30–an entire decade later.

Believe it or not, I have been successful in my recovery without utilizing the 12 Step Fellowships. I chose a different type of program that didn’t require 12 Step meetings at all.

I have been clean for almost 4 years and, until the past 2 months, I had only attended one NA meeting. And I only went to that one meeting because a friend of mine convinced me to go with him. He was on a mission to prove to me that not all meetings are bad.

Giving 12 Step A Second Chance

You know what, he turned out to be right. I actually had a great time at the meeting he took me to. It was a humbling experience, really. 

Since I live so far from that meeting and my own program, I eventually decided to reach out to the local recovery community in my area via Facebook and was delighted to receive a private message from a woman I know and admire. She was kind enough to invite me to her favorite meeting in our town.

I went to my first local meeting a few months ago and haven’t missed one since. It’s a great meeting full of honesty and real support. It’s nothing like the pathetic meeting I attended so many years ago. I have found sisterhood and compassion there, without all the stuff that had turned me off to 12 step in the first place.

Lots to Learn about 12 Step

Honestly, I know about the 12 Step Fellowships except that they make enormous differences in so many people’s lives. That in itself is enough for me to respect that the program is of amazing value to people and society in general. Now, I am learning more. I purchased a copy of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and am reading it. And since I already own The Big Book and the NA book, I will soon be reading those as well.

I didn’t think 12 Step was for me. I really believed it was a bunch of crap. But you know, I was wrong.

It has already changed my life so much just in the month I have been attending. I have so much gratitude for the women there and for myself, for opening my mind enough to give it another chance.

About the author:

Jamie Lee Beals is a full time mother, recovering meth addict and the blogger at https://stepstorecovery.com/blog/

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