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Alcohol abuse and addiction are terrible demons that latch onto everyday people. Some will face Portland DUI charges due to mistakes they’ve made; some will realize they have a problem on their own and of their own volition; some will walk into interventions held by loving friends and family members who want to help; some will have a supervisor speak with them – the common thread is that most of those in these situations will enroll in a 12-step program, including Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups provide incomparable amounts of support for those struggling with addiction who are trying to gain more control on their actions and their life. It’s an uphill battle to fight alcohol abuse, especially after being convicted of a DUI, and a 12-step program can help. However, there are some drawbacks regarding the culture and efficacy of results. By no means are we discouraging, nor disparaging, 12-step programs, but rather seek to inform you and equip you with the knowledge necessary if you, or a loved one, are entering the program.

The 12-step program help the individual understand that their dependency/addiction has caused harm. “The first step is admitting you have a problem,” as they say. If the participant stays in denial, there will only be relapses, but by accepting that there is an issue to resolve within themselves, they can begin to work towards the ultimate goal of sobriety. Oftentimes, people in the program don’t realize, or don’t want to realize, that their dependency is causing issues in their health, work, or loved ones’ lives and the program helps shine a light on that.

From there, staying on track is the next most difficult piece of the equation. The program lends the support and strength of others who have been through, or are currently going through, nearly identical situations and struggles. Being able to call on a friend when feeling weak can be the difference between earning the next chip (1 month, 6 months, years, etc.), or “falling off the wagon.” Furthermore, sponsorship elevates the basic camaraderie to a new level of mentorship to guide a new participant through the obstacles towards sobriety. A sponsor is an older fellow member who has completed the program and has been sober for 5 years to offer insight and moral grounding against temptation.

With the 12-step program, people don’t feel alone, scared, and isolated in their world; there is a network of people they can depend on to be there – at a weekly minimum thanks to the meetings, but likely more frequently than that. Members enjoy a sense of belonging where they aren’t vilified or ostracized for their past mistakes; there is an understanding and acceptance because everyone is there for the same reason and fighting the same battle. If you are scared to start the program because of a fear of isolation, that is fortunately a fear that can be laid to rest immediately.

However, there are some cons to the 12-step program. To anyone with social anxiety, or an introverted personality, the requirements to attend meetings and open up may be overwhelming. You must express your thoughts, feelings, and moments of weakness to new people and how you felt the pull to give into your temptations of another drink. Constantly confessing and hearing confessions of others can weigh on already weary minds and can push participants to avoiding the meetings all together and possible closer to relapsing. This doesn’t affect everyone, of course. but it is a valid concern for less-than-outgoing people, or those who are self-conscious about their images. The program does all it can to ease these fears, to its credit, as it understands the potential sinking emotions members feel over time.

Another aspect in which the 12-step program is considered lacking is in physical healing. The 12-step program focuses largely on perception, self realization, acceptance, and responsibility. However, addressing the tolls of withdrawals are overlooked; the shakes, the fevers, the headaches, the yearning: you’re forced to rely on your own strength – at best to contact another member. Your detox may be a tribulation to face on your own, despite the community surrounding you. It’s a personal war you can share stories about, but that no one can change the physiological demands your body and mind are making at the time.

Lastly, and this may not be so much of a drawback to some, but to those who don’t consider themselves devoutly, or even tangentially, faithful or religious, will find the program to put too much emphasis on God (or, at a minimum, a higher power). As a matter of fact, some consider the program itself to be a work of a Higher Power; an agnostic/atheist may question why a god would subject them to such troubles and problems. In a way, it is encouraged to believe in and rely on a higher power to be your sherpa through the recovery journey. Those who believe in God will have no issue offering their troubles to him and knowing that He will hold their hand through all of it. Knowing that a being stronger than you is beside you and that He wouldn’t give you any struggle that you could not overcome is a comforting thought. It is not our place to comment further on this (potential) con to the program. All beliefs are welcome and we do not pass judgment upon those who give themselves to a higher power, or those who question it. We do, however, believe the pros outweigh the cons.

Those in a 12-step program, such as AA after self-realization, or being charged with a Portland DUI / Beaverton DUI, will have others around them to help overcome the challenges of battling alcohol addiction and abuse. If you believe you have a problem and want to take control of your actions again and not rely on alcohol, attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting before things take a turn for the worse. We encourage you to avoid being charged with a DUI. If you have been charged with a DUI, we’re here to help and guide you through the legal process and in finding a 12-step program to steer you towards healthier life choices. Call us today to learn more and to begin the representation process – it’s a long road, but our expert attorneys will be there every step of the way if you have been charged with a DUI, or are a victim of an accident with a driver operating under the influence.