People often look askance at the idea of doing the 12 Steps in a treatment setting. They ask,
“Can’t you just do it for free in AA?” This is a reasonable question, but we believe that there are certain definite advantages to doing step work in early sobriety in a treatment center.
Most people do not realize that Bill W commenced what we would call step work when he was just a few days sober at the Charles B Towns Hospital in Manhattan. At the time Bill was very ill and utterly desperate. Had he not taken action at that time he may not have had the spiritual awakening that led to the birth of AA.
AA’s pioneers were fond of the saying, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” This sentiment was baked into AA culture. It means that desperation, or “deflation at depth”, is essential to recovery. The alcoholic or addict must be convinced that he cannot fix himself and that he will never be able to safely use drugs or alcohol. Needless to say, this kind of desperation is not uncommon among addicts and alcoholics in early sobriety. All the more reason to seize the opportunity and begin step work.
Then there is the issue of quality. 12 Step delivery is more of an art than a technique. Those of us who facilitate step work in a treatment setting are privileged to work almost continuously with large numbers of newly sober addicts and alcoholics. Generally speaking, this means that 12 Step facilitators working in treatment settings are usually far more experienced than even the most seasoned AA or NA members. Experience alone, however, does not insure quality. We believe that the best 12 Step facilitators are always striving to improve their game; that is, they are constantly researching and utilizing new methods or practices to enhance their delivery. We are proud that, at Rockland Recovery, our facilitators have significant additional training in areas like yoga, counseling, spiritual direction, and Jungian psychology. They also have over 40 years experience in bringing the steps to diverse populations in multiple settings (i.e workshops, retreats, treatment centers, prisons, and sober living houses).
Step work in a treatment setting also has the advantage of clinical support. Writing a fourth step almost always involves a confrontation with biographical or historical trauma. Having a clinical team to negotiate those waters is indispensable and often not available to someone doing step work in AA or NA. Sadly, many clinicians simply do not understand the dynamics of step work. This can lead to a lot of confusion and mixed messaging. Fortunately, this is not the case at Rockland Recovery. Our clinical director has over thirty years of step experience.
Ideally, our clients will complete 7 steps before leaving treatment. Most addicts and alcoholics don’t experience much significant relief until after they have written and read their fourth step. However, when they do, there is a very strong likelihood that they will leave treatment with a profound sense of relief. They will believe in the step process and know what to do next. Most will have achieved a measure of forgiveness and self acceptance; their stress levels will have diminished considerably and they will have the makings of a new circle of recovering friends.
In closing, the reader should know that the precedent for working steps in treatment was set by Bill W himself. In 1939 he helped establish High Watch Farm as the world’s first 12 Step treatment center. Rockland Recovery is a continuation and elaboration of that legacy.