By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
The Twelve Step program, developed by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people struggling with alcoholic addiction, has been extended to address a wide range of destructive, compulsive behaviors. Key applications include drugs, food, sex, gambling, and smoking. Many individuals struggling with health issues prevalent today could benefit from practicing the Twelve Steps. The Steps can also be aptly applied in dealing with spiritual issues, too.
Whatever the situation, be it a compulsion, a habit, a temptation, a struggle, a worry, or a distraction, the underlying premise of the Twelve Steps provides the right focus. Essentially, it is realizing that we can’t deal with the issue on our own and that we need God’s help to see long-term victory.
Whatever we want to change about ourselves, there is a limit to how much we can accomplish by our own will and strength. And even with the assistance of a higher power, issues and struggles in our lives are usually not removed instantaneously. It can be a slow process, one that takes time – day by day.
Maybe the main point is the journey. Perhaps we are meant to learn something and mature as we move down our path to freedom. If we realized instant success, we might miss whatever lesson is waiting for us.
Regardless if the resolution is immediate or a process, the first step is realizing that we need a power beyond ourselves. And that’s a great beginning!