More Revealed's Own Horror Stories

Some 12-Step Caveats

August 4th, 2005

I'm glad I found this site. My story is slightly different since my issues with the 12 steps come from Al Anon. Before I had any 12 step experience, I decided to see a therapist for help with 'boundary' problems I had acquired in my 'family of origin.' This family does, incidentally, include a problem drinker, although I don't trace all of the problems to that person.

Although he did not say so, this therapist's ideas were based on the 12 steps. I was very trusting at the time, and eager for insight, so I really worked on internalizing the ideas - at very great cost. Finally I figured out what was going on. There is much destructive potential in the 12 steps, as other contributors to this site have pointed out. If you go to a 12 step group, watch out, and if you feel uncomfortable, trust yourself - don't be convinced you're just 'in denial.'

Fifteen years later and in another town, I have been attending some Al Anon meetings because I do have some of the traits from which Al Anon people seek relief, and I've found that this particular group of people has a lot of insight into the issues. I learn quite a from what they have to say in the meeting, which I attend every other week or so. However, I don't try to 'work the steps' in any kind of systematic way, I don't participate in the prayers, and I don't socialize after or outside meetings (after all, it is supposed to be anonymous!), and I take the principles very metaphorically and with a grain of salt.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need or decide for any reason to go to a 12 step group, use your judgment about what parts of the 'program' are useful to you. In my view you shouldn't be made to feel that you need to go more and more, and you should leave meetings feeling lighter and stronger than you did when you went in. If you don't, consider the possibility that this may not be your failing but rather the result of one or more of the many problems with the 12 step ideology.