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12-Step Spirituality and Recovery in Rhode Island
by John Koenig
Addiction is a crises of body, mind and spirit. Not only is an addict’s physical and mental health damaged but his or her connection with their higher self is also blocked. It matters little whether the addiction is to alcohol, narcotics, overeating, gambling, sex, internet pornography, home shopping network or even to another person. Addiction turns the addict’s attention inward away from what is best to what is immediate and pleasurable.
Loved ones, family, friends, career and other interests fade into the background. Then they disappear entirely. It is as though the addict becomes the addiction. There is room for little else.
Whatever one’s definition of spirituality, this hamster wheel way of life can be seen as a serious spiritual crises.
Fortunately, the resources to escape the despair and loneliness of addiction are readily available in Rhode Island. We have many professionals trained to handle addictions in outpatient and residential programs. But there are also free resources where addicts help themselves recover. All that is necessary is that the addict be willing to put his or her prejudices aside and take a few simple steps. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop one’s addiction.
12-step fellowships based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous are by far the most popular and available self-help programs in the state. They follow the program (and spiritual principles) outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous (the AA Big Book). The spinoffs just substitute a substance or behavior where the text says alcohol. There are no dues or fees. And anyone is welcome provided they have a desire to break free of their addiction.
There are at least 35 varieties of popular 12-Step programs. Many of these run meetings regularly in Rhode Island. Others are available in Massachusetts or Connecticut or as on-line meetings. Here are those that currently hold meetings in Rhode Island.
Alcoholics Anonymous (650+ meetings)
Adult Children of Alcoholics (2 meetings )
Alanon/Alateen (12+ meetings)
Co-Dependents Anonymous (3 meetings)
Co-Dependents of Sex and Love Addicts (1 meeting monthly)
Debtors Anonymous (3 meetings)
Emotions Anonymous (1 meeting)
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (5 meetings)
Gamblers Anonymous (8 meetings)
Marijuana Anonymous (1 meeting)
Narcotics Anonymous (55+ meetings)
Naranon for families of narcotic addicts (3 meetings)
Overeaters Anonymous (18 meetings)
Sex Addicts Anonymous (6 meetings)
Sexaholics Anonymous (1 meeting)
Survivors of Incest Anonymous (1 meeting)
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (4 meetings)
Workaholics Anonymous (2 meetings)
Most people who attend seem no more religious than the general population, perhaps even less so. And 12-steppers insist their programs are spiritual, not religious. 12-Steppers will describe spirituality as an individual’s own relationship with a power greater than themselves. This might include practice of a religion, but it might not. And it is entirely private. In fact, people in 12-step recovery almost never bring their particular idea of God into their fellowships.
Absolutely. Anyone can attend a twelve-step program and are indeed encouraged to do so, even just to check it out if they think they might have a problem.
12-step fellowships do not claim to be the only path to recovery, but for many they offer the best chance for good and lasting recovery with plenty of long-term success stories. And the price is right. There are no dues or fees for 12-step membership. Plus they are anonymous programs. Nothing can be lost by checking them out, and perhaps much to gain.
John Koenig is a board certified hypnotist and certified instructor with the National Guild of Hypnotists, the world’s largest association of professional hypnotists. He has helped people with substance or behavior problems deal successfully with recovery issues since 1998 with or without their membership in a support community. His office is located at The Warwick Medical Building. For more information, visit PossibilitiesHypnosis.com and GreaterRhodeIslandHypnosisTraining.com. See ad, page ??.