Research shows that people often use alcohol and drugs for stress management. But most researchers also agree that these substances may actually induce stress rather than relieve it. So it’s important that individuals who have made the decision to stop drinking replace alcohol and drugs with more effective ways to manage stress. The 12 Steps, though not specifically designed as a stress management tool, use many of the techniques suggested by experts to deal with stress. For instance:
- Numerous scientific studies have shown the positive effects of prayer and meditation on stress; as a result, health care practitioners often suggest prayer and meditation as a stress management strategy. The 12 Steps suggest the use of prayer and meditation as a means to sobriety. Though the writers of the 12 Steps weren’t aware of any science behind prayer and meditation at the time, they knew enough to include them at the heart of recovery.
- Social support networks are known to relieve stress and promote mental health. While the 12 Steps do not explicitly mention group support as a way to stop drinking, they are written from a group perspective, using “we” and “our” in language, and they are recited at 12-Step meetings to provide common purpose, mutual understanding and a sense of community. The feeling of security that comes from group support can help manage the stress of being alone in the challenges of recovery.
- Most individuals come to the 12 Steps with wreckage like financial debt, destroyed relationships and broken promises. The Steps help relieve the stress of a traumatic history by suggesting a complete inventory of one’s misbehavior, and amends to offended parties. By dealing with a troubled past, hope begins to take the place of stress, and individuals can start anew.
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