12-STEP PROGRAMS: WHAT ARE THEY?
An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 10, Number 1
This issue of our E-Letter begins our tenth anniversary of bringing informative and educational information to our large database of readers. Beginning after Hurricane Wilma, we have strived to bring you current information about topics of interest. We appreciate the comments and questions we have received and hope you have taken some of the information to improve and enrich your lives.
January starts a new year with the tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. We encourage those who are making changes to continue. Those who have given up or forgotten, we encourage you to try again. We call your attention to this month’s designation as National Weight Loss Awareness Month. Obesity and being overweight is a primary health care problem and significantly contributes to other health problems. We encourage you at the beginning of the year to reevaluate your eating patterns and make a commitment to losing weight.
This month’s E-letter focuses on 12-Step programs. Our email of the month is about Living in 2015 and Our Ask the Doc question is about finding employment. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We thank you for the many comments we have received through the years to our E-Letters.
Women’s Group. A weekly support group for women has begun and has quickly filled up. Run by Dr. Terry Newell, the emphasis is upon women supporting women. Another group is being planned and if you are interested, please contact Dr. Newell or Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Living with Fibromyalgia group. We have started a support group for people who have fibromyalgia, a debilitating disorder that causes physical problems including aching muscles, sleep disorders, and fatigue. The group meets once a week and is run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad. For more details, please contact Dr. Jim or Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Depression groups. An ongoing weekly depression therapy group meets regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Research Study. If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in conducting research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Results show continued weight loss for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
12-STEP PROGRAMS: WHAT ARE THEY?
Our E-Letter this month focuses on 12-Step programs which have proliferated in the past decade. “Hello. My name is _______ and I am a ___holic” has become a common saying. Originally developed by AA as a process for alcoholics who wanted to achieve sobriety, the principles of the 12-steps have become a philosophy for many addictive and compulsive behavior programs including Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Pills Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, and Workaholics Anonymous. Members of 12-Step programs remain anonymous and find a fellowship with other members who support the member in recovery from their addiction or compulsive behavior.
12-Step programs are so named because there are 12 guiding principles that have been shown to help people recover. There are also the 12 Traditions which accompany the 12-steps. The Traditions give guidelines for governing meetings and are meant to provide structure and reduce conflict. Members believe that actively working each step will not only allow them to stop their addiction but also teach them a new way of living. Inherent in the 12-steps are becoming honest with oneself and others, taking responsibility for one’s behaviors, making amends to others, and doing service to help others. The following are the original 12-steps of AA:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12-steps have been criticized because of its dependence upon God which offends some people. Consequently, some groups have changed this to a “higher power” as defined by the individual member. Others have used this criticism to reject joining any 12-step program. Regardless, many millions of people have recovered globally by accepting and living this philosophy. The principals are designed so that members do not feel they are alone and that they can benefit from the experiences of others who have had their problems. The programs are designed to help members create a new, happy, and satisfying life. Individuals who have been in recovery for a longer period support newcomers who may still be going through withdrawal. These “old timers” become sponsors who teach the 12-steps and help newcomers “work the steps”.
For people to succeed in any 12-Step programs, they need to be honest with themselves and with others. Since an addict’s way of life is to lie or rationalize, being honest may be very difficult although necessary. It is also important to be open-minded to new ideas and new behaviors that may be quite different from one’s usual way of living. Finally, the individual must be willing to learn and embrace a new philosophy of living. The 12-steps are a model for change and admitting one has a problem is necessary to make any changes.
If you choose to join a 12-step program whether it is for pills, gambling, or overworking, you will need to admit that you have a problem and accept help from others. You can start by finding the right group as every group is different. At meetings, become active. Share with others, meet people, and make contacts to call if you need support. Commit yourself and attend meetings regularly, at least twice a week. Accept help from others especially if they have been where you are. Find a sponsor and “work the steps”.
12-Step programs are not the only means for recovering from addictive or compulsive behaviors. You may do better on a one-to-one basis with your own therapist of by finding other programs. However, many people believe in the 12-steps and attribute changing their lives to a 12-Step Program.
We offer the following information on 12-Step Programs:
12-STEP PROGRAMS: WHAT ARE THEY?
I spent a lifetime in hell and it only took me twelve steps to get to heaven
WHAT TO KNOW!
- Over 200 self-help organizations or fellowships worldwide and over several million people follow the 12-step principals for recovery
- Originally developed by AA, a 12-Step program is a self help program that follows a series of principles that will lead to recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, sexual addiction, and other compulsive behaviors
- AA was founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in the 1930s; they established the practice for 12-Step programs of only using first names to maintain anonymity of its members
- When a person works the 12-steps, they replace egotistic and self-centered behavior with a moral consciousness, self-sacrifice, and constructive service to others
- The 12-Step Principles include:
- Admitting that one is powerless to control their addictive behaviors
- Recognizing that a higher power can restore one to sanity
- Taking a personal inventory and making amends for past errors
- Learning to live a new life with a new value system
- Helping others who have addictive behaviors to recover
- Accompanying the 12-Steps are the 12 Traditions which were designed for governance of the groups and to reduce conflict
- The goals of 12-Step programs are to create new lives without compulsive behaviors where those who have been in recovery for a long time help newcomers
- Key elements of the program include Honesty with oneself, Willingness to change, and Open-mindedness to learning a new way of living
- Sponsors teach the 12 Steps, try to prevent relapses, and help you work the steps
- 12-Step programs allow for the opportunity to meet people who have the same problems and to get support and encouragement from those already in recovery
- 12-Step programs teach the skills of remaining sober, dealing with cravings, telling friends and relatives, dealing with still addicted friends, and expressing gratitude
- At 12-Step meetings:
- You can decide for yourself if you have an addiction
- You can meet and relate with others who have the same or similar problems
- You develop confidence that you can stop the addictive behavior and recover
- You will be accepted and not judged
- You can learn how others deal with their recovery
WHAT TO DO!
- If you attend a 12-Step program:
- Try different group meetings as each group is different
- Become active and share at meetings
- Reach out and get phone numbers of others to call for support
- Make a commitment and go to a meeting at least 2-3 times a week
- Accept the help that others offer
- Get a sponsor who will teach you to work the 12-steps
- Consider getting professional help in addition to attending 12-step meetings if you have addictions or compulsive behaviors
We Can Help!
Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067
Copyright © 2015; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.
As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.
Ask the Doc
RW writes: I was let go from my job about 4 months ago when a new company came in and fired a lot of people. I had been with them for 15 years and probably had too high a salary. I haven’t been able to find a job since then and I worry that I never will. I have gone on interviews but sometimes I never hear from the interviewer. I am feeling pretty depressed. Any suggestions?
- Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: Unfortunately, your story is very common. I have seen several people in my practice who have had very similar situations. They have been let go and find it hard to find a job. They have checked all the websites, met with recruiters, and have gone to job fairs. The feel similarly to you in that they are frustrated and pessimistic. However, they won’t give up and I suggest the same to you. If you really want to find a job, do not give up your hunt and persevere. Go on every job interview you can arrange, meet with recruiters, and network with others in the same industry. Don’t get despondent when you hear how the economy is picking up and you can’t get a job. There are still many, many people who are out of work.
You might also want to consider a different type of job where you might be able to transfer the skills you have to a different industry. Consider looking for jobs that you might be able to fill even though they may not be in the field you used to work in. Meet as many business people as you can by networking or by going to business meetings where you can introduce yourself.
Something else to consider, if you are able to, might be to reinvent yourself. This may include going back to school or learning new skills to meet the demands of different industries. You might not need a college degree but you might be more in demand if you knew how to develop websites for example.
In my opinion, the most important thing is not to give up and to continue to persevere. Believe in yourself and that you are only temporarily unemployed not that you are not wanted. The more people you meet, the more interviews you go on, the more you promote yourself, the greater the chances that you will find employment satisfactory to you.
Email of the Month
We would like to thank Richard L. for the following email:
YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING IN 2015 WHEN…
1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.
2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
4. You email the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have email addresses.
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries.
7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
8. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn’t even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your coffee.
11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile : ).
12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.
13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
14. You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a #9 on this list.
Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our E-Letter.
The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.
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Copyright © 2015 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.