Perhaps you’ve heard the term “12-step program” before, but you never knew what it embraced. Most drug rehabilitation centers introduce their clients to the 12-step programs promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous as well as Narcotics Anonymous. Both of these organizations have worldwide locations.
Alcoholics Anonymous introduced the 12 steps in 1939, four years after it was founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Akron, Ohio. It represented a methodology embraced by all addicts to take them into recovery. Later, however, AA adapted its 12 Traditions, which basically set out how AA and its local groups will function. The Fifth Tradition states that the focus will remain on alcoholics; confounded by this interpretation, Narcotics Anonymous was established to embrace drug addicts.
To show how similar they are, look at the first steps of each agency. Alcoholics Anonymous says, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.” Narcotics Anonymous says, “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Most drug rehabilitation centers use the philosophies of these two groups interchangeably. Both types of addiction share so many similarities. Whether you are abusing alcohol or narcotics, certain changes affected your brain development at the time you began using.
In the past, scientists believed that most brain development was already achieved by the time a child entered school. However, as recently as the last decade or so, experts have published data to show that the part of the brain that helps you to make good decisions and critique your own actions-the prefrontal cortex-continues developing throughout early adulthood. This same section is also responsible for modulating mood and correctly perceiving the moods of others.
Scientists discovered that prefrontal cortex development was stopped dead in its tracks by the use of harmful substances. For that reason, addicts are known to have underdeveloped decision-making skills. They become frustrated when criticized. They cannot control their moods, and they are poor at identifying what is going on in the minds of their close family members and friends. They cannot comprehend the long-term consequences of their actions. Does that sound like someone you know?
Counselors in drug rehabilitation centers will also teach you why taking drugs or alcohol has always felt so pleasurable. The brain normally releases neurotransmitters called serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. The endorphins are most familiar to people-we’ve all read about how exercising stimulates the brain to release a deluge of biochemicals that make the brain feel oh, so good.
That flood of sensation brings someone with an addictive personality to go for it-over and over again. Unfortunately, since your use of drugs stimulates this barrage of neurotransmitters, your brain stops producing them on its own. You need more drugs to achieve the same effect. And the addiction grows.
Whether you are the addict reading this, or a person in the addict’s life who wants to help him, you probably recognize that addiction brings with it a childish selfishness. The addict petulantly continues to use in order to achieve that great feeling. And his ability to make good choices, control his moods, and become a functional, perceptive adult never fully develops.
That’s why taking a look at the First Step of either AA or NA is so important. It talks about the necessity of realizing that your addiction has rendered you powerless and that you can no longer control your life. Once you’ve realized that, you can move on to the rest of the steps and toward recovery. And counselors in drug rehabilitation centers can help you with these steps.
So no matter where you live in the world, help is just a click away:
You can reach Alcoholics Anonymous at http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/find-local-aa.
For a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, go to Narcotics Anonymous.