The support of a strong social network. In that same vein, since AA has been around for so long and is so widely instituted, its networks of support are both widespread and firmly rooted. Combined with that is the emphasis the 12-Step program places on having a sponsor to provide encouragement and motivation as well as regularly attending group meetings and finding strength through your peers.
Auxiliary groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, for friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts, respectively, are part of a response to treating addiction as a disease that is enabled by family systems. Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA) addresses the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) addresses compulsions related to relationships, referred to as codependency.
Research and population surveys have shown that persons under stress , particularly chronic stress, tend to exhibit more unhealthy behaviors than less-stressed persons. Stressed people drink more alcohol, smoke more, and eat less nutritious foods than non-stressed individuals. Many people report drinking alcohol in response to various types of stress, and the amount of drinking in response to stress is related to the severity of the life stressors and the individuals' lack of social support networks.
Abstinence-based recovery, as the name suggests, focuses on complete abstinence from drug use, thereby breaking the cycle of addiction and dependency. To achieve remission from the disease of addiction, complete withdrawal of all mind-altering substances, including alcohol, is required. Abstinence-based recovery teaches us how to live a life of freedom that no longer requires us to turn to mood or mind-altering substances in order to help change the way we feel. The 12-Steps are an abstinence-based program that offers a lifeline of support to anyone hoping to recover from addiction.
Treating underlying problems: There may be problems with self-esteem, stress, anxiety, depression, or other aspects of mental health. It is important to treat these problems, too, as they can increase the risks posed by alcohol. Common alcohol-related issues, such as hypertension, liver diseases, and possibly heart diseases, will need to be treated too.
Since the 1950s, alcohol addiction has been treated as a separate addiction from that of other illicit drugs under the AA program, meaning that drug abuse disorders are considered to be a different struggle, so a separate 12-step program is recommended. Chemical dependency is considered the most life-threatening addiction disorder and addicts are advised to address this addiction first and prior to other addictions such as gambling or sexual addiction, until abstinence is established and recovery has begun. Drug dependency is sometimes considered the root addiction, causing the individual to develop other addictive tendencies and therefore should be addressed first.
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