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THE TWELVE STEP BOOM

Hazelden’s Twelve-Step based Minnesota Model soon becomes the dominant form of addiction treatment in America . In the mid 70’s the National Council on Alcoholism launches a campaign to decrease the stigma associated with addiction. These factors contribute to a swell in popularity of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Step style treatment. The popularization of the Twelve Steps and the influx of people attracted to them give rise to a “recovery culture” with its own values and assumptions, separate from traditional understandings of the Steps.

References to AA and the Twelve Steps begin appearing every where in the media. Recovery themed bumper stickers, books, retreats and cruises, and all manner of recovery paraphernalia begin to grow in popularity.

Between 1978 and 1985, Twelve-Step recovery became nothing short of a phenomenon of American pop culture. Like other such phenomena, it was popularized, commodified, and commercialized.

Slaying the Dragon
William L. White

As a result, for a time it seems that being a member of a Twelve Step organization becomes strangely “hip.”

Addiction recovery had gone from the shameful to the “chic”—something…more of a lifestyle choice than the only way out of intolerable pain.

Slaying the Dragon
William L. White

Along with this popularity comes a flood of new Twelve Step programs. Gamblers Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, and many others are founded and grow rapidly. The popular joke is that there is a Twelve Step organization for absolutely everything.

Characteristic of the growing recovery culture is its value of a psychological view of recovery.

Treatment language began to filter into A.A., and the line between what happened in a group in a treatment center and what happened in an A.A. meeting became increasingly blurred…Some observed that…A.A. story styles were shifting to a focus on affective pain, and that A.A. laughter had been replaced by angst.

Slaying the Dragon
William L. White

An addition to the growing recovery culture is the codependency movement. In the 1980’s, psychologists begin to document the effects of parental alcoholism upon the development of their children. These studies give rise to a movement within Alanon called Adult Children of Alcoholics. This movement is soon popularized by such books as Melodie Beattie’s Codependent No More, and John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You. With the Codependency movement entering the mix, there is much talk in meetings and in the media of the “dysfunctional family.”

The Codependency movement puts forward the belief that the cause of one’s problems lies somewhere in one’s family of origin. This leads to a belief that addiction is a learned behavior.

These movements culturally mainstreamed their premise that childhood trauma altered one’s developmental trajectory into adult life, producing emotional turmoil, disorders of perception and thought, and self-destructive behavior.

Slaying the Dragon
William L. White

In a short time, Twelve Step fellowships are overrun by the phenomenon of recovery culture. In the popular mind, there is no distinction between the Twelve Steps, psychological assertions introduced by the Minnesota Model, and the assumptions of the codependency movement. In actual meetings, however, there is much conflict between the new members of the recovery culture and those who hold a more traditional view of the recovery. In this conflict, many of the traditionalists feel the need to define themselves in opposition to the values of recovery culture.


2 Comments so far
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Have a daughter who is a AA member. She is now rude to her own family but jumps at the chance to run to the aid of a member. She knows not how to listen but just to lecture. She now thinks that anyone behavior is acceptable or forgivable no matter the consequence to other member’s of her family. I do not understand this. We are very supportive of her and her member friends but what do we do? She leaves her child with AA or NA member’s but accepts anything and everything from us when offered. Then turns around and says “oh I have to take him/her to ??? house because she needs to see him” Why would one choose to surround a child with addicts? Please help me understand this way of thinking.

Comment by nanagotgame

Unfortunately it means you daughter in in the early phase of Recovery, where she has not yet applied her program to her relationships with her family. However, being the available taxi to take people to see “him” is NOT part of the program, just helping another newcomer exercise their own self will.

God’s will seldom needs to be explained. Self will always need to be explained.

However, do not let her limitations interfere with your life and serenity. I would suggest looking into how the Alanon Family Groups can help you live a whole and healthy life, whether or not your daughter ever rejoins the family or stays sober.

Just my 2c.

Comment by Joe




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