A personal look at sobriety from one of our own staff, Susan Sanchez
For many years, the only available treatment included the 12-Steps. What about those, like me, that did not find AA or NA helpful? Why wasn’t there another way to get sober?
Some have issues with the religious aspect of the 12-Steps, whereas others do not like the piece of surrendering. Those were not the problems I had with 12-Step. My issues with AA and NA were that I did not fit in and the fact that I needed to identify as having a problem for the rest of my life. That meant to me that there was no real hope.
My first real experience with 12-Step was a horrible one. The treatment center only used AA and the crowd was older men. I was a 29-year-old female who did not drink or desire to drink. We introduced ourselves by stating our name and the nature of our disease.
Hi, my name is…
‘Hi, my name is Susan and I am an addict.’ That introduction went over poorly, and I was basically told not to come back to that meeting because I didn’t fit in as an alcoholic.
The conundrum was that I had a problem with drugs but was not allowed to choose the type of meeting I went to. I loved the residential program I attended, but hated the meetings, especially being forced to identify as an alcoholic. In all honesty, I had not had a drink since high school. I was faithful to my drug of choice, which happened to be methamphetamines at that time.
Truly in recovery?
After treatment, I went to college and received an Associate Degree in Drug Studies. I did not attend 12-Step meetings and wondered if I was truly “in recovery.” I felt inauthentic in counseling people struggling with drugs and alcohol and telling them they needed to go to a meeting, especially since I knew there was another way to get sober.
When I began working in the addiction field, alternative programs became more available. Working in mindfulness-based programs has helped me feel and become more authentic in my recovery. It was my first non-12-Step work experience that I educated the recovering staff who were considered “12-Step Purists” or “Big Book Thumpers” that there is more to recovery than meetings.
Working in that first alternative program was incredible. The only downfall was that the program was not structured or research based. Many of the clients returned to treatment and were not successful.
Research based curriculum that works
Finding Centered Recovery was a blessing for me. I came aboard as an intern for my second master’s degree in May of 2019 and am so glad to be a part of the team. Centered Recovery uses a sound research-based curriculum to help heal clients from the inside out.
What traditional 12-Step and nontraditional programs have in common are support networks and “the inside job” work on one’s soul. I found my support network through friends at school, church, and coworkers. Personal therapy helped me work on the internal issues that caused addiction.
A way of being
Recovery is a lifelong journey that is lived and not “done.” It is a way of being, not a way of doing. Even though I have worked on my inner demons, there is always more to work on. February 28, 2005 was the last time I ever stuck a needle in my arm. What I have learned on this journey is that sobriety is not the end goal; it is a by-product of the small changes I have made along the way. I no longer need to Identify as an “addict.” I am so far removed from who that person was so many years ago.
Have you attempted a 12 step program and wished for an alternative? Maybe you enjoy working the 12 steps but wish you had a bit more to help guide you on this journey? Maybe you just know there’s another way to get sober, and you want to learn more. Centered Recovery is a complete program that can be used solo or in conjunction with your 12 step program or AA meetings–it is complementary to any recovery journey because the mindfulness-based approach is structured and focused on guiding you to complete mental health and resilience, from the inside out. If you’d like to know more about Centered Recovery’s program and whether it is right for you, call 800.556.2966 and speak to one of our admissions counselors today.