The 12 Steps: Building the Evidence Base: The Latest Research Initiatives Seek Insight into How Spirituality Affects Recovery
Slaymaker, Valerie, Addiction Professional
Practicing the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has a profound and positive impact on abstinence from substances and on life functioning. These benefits occur whether the Steps are worked as part of mutual-help group attendance or are facilitated within the context of professionally delivered treatment (e.g., Minnesota Model/12-Step facilitation). (1), (2), (3) In recent years, scientists have been studying the mechanisms by which the 12-Step philosophy exerts its effects. Studies have shown that the approach works by increasing social networks in support of abstinence and by increasing an individual's self-efficacy, or confidence in maintaining sobriety. (4), (5), (6), (7) These factors, in turn, lead to improved health and substance use outcomes.
There is another angle from which to examine the impact of the 12 Steps, however, and that angle is spirituality. It is a long-recognized paradox in human experience that when a situation is most bleak, the best opportunity for a spiritual awakening might arise. Bill W. and Dr. Bob, AA's founders, recognized early on that drug and alcohol addiction often bring a person to openness to spiritual experience. As a result, spirituality is a core component of AA's 12-Step philosophy. Spiritual principles include recognition of, willingness to trust, and commitment to maintain "conscious contact" with a power greater than oneself. (8)
Spirituality is a difficult concept to study scientifically. Ask 10 people how they define spirituality and you will receive 10 different answers. To some, spirituality implies a connection with the metaphysical, whether that is a traditional concept of God …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The 12 Steps: Building the Evidence Base: The Latest Research Initiatives Seek Insight into How Spirituality Affects Recovery. Contributors: Slaymaker, Valerie - Author. Magazine title: Addiction Professional. Volume: 7. Issue: 3 Publication date: May-June 2009. Page number: 16+. © 2008 Vendome Group LLC. COPYRIGHT 2009 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.