Modern-day treatment for substance dependency stretches back to 1935, when Bill Wilson invented the “Twelve Steps” method to combat his own alcoholism. Over the years it has transcended the bounds of alcoholism treatment, with physicians and addicts applying it to all kinds of addictive or compulsive behaviours for people to regain control of their lives.
At Zen Detox, we use a holistic treatment method to look at the mind, body, soul and environment altogether to help reconstruct the lives of recovering substance abusers. The concept of treating alcoholism in the first place came from Alcoholics Anonymous, the birthplace of the Twelve Steps, so we’ve decided to look back on our long-removed history in an effort to explain what treatment can do for addiction.
Roots of the Twelve Steps
Bill Wilson was an alcoholic. Living in 1935, he had a job on Wall Street and the potential to make it big, but it all came crashing down due to his compulsive drinking. He would regularly show up to work drunk, failed to collect his law degree due to excessive intoxication, and eventually lost everything (including a wife and child) because he couldn’t stop drinking. He eventually fought his way to sobriety, developing his Twelve Steps along the way.
Doctor Robert Holbrook Smith was the first person that Bill helped through alcohol treatment using the steps. In 1946 the two formalised those twelve steps into a book called Alcoholics Anonymous. This book contained the Twelve Steps to sobriety, as well as the Twelve Traditions that would occur in every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting thereafter. Recovering addicts in the program today typically call it the “Big Book”. The primary purpose of the program is to acknowledge one’s addiction, the powerlessness one possesses, and then subsequently giving oneself over to a higher power to begin reparations.
Over the years, the Twelve Steps have been applied to numerous addictions, including drug abuse, eating disorders and compulsive shopping. It has been—and continues to be—an effective form of treatment for thousands of addicts. Notably, it has some significant similarities and differences to holistic therapy.
The Twelve Steps vs. Holistic Treatment
As we mentioned previously, the idea behind the Twelve Steps is to understand that you are powerless against the force of an addiction, and then subsequently taking steps to overcome and manage the addiction by acknowledging that. This program has worked for so many people, but it is not the only way to go about recovering. Here at Zen Detox, we prefer using holistic treatment.
Holistic treatment takes a reparative approach to the life of a recovering alcoholic and is designed to treat all aspects of a person. By addressing the mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social and environmental aspects of a person’s life, we hope to bring people back to stability. This brings about an interesting comparison between the two methods.
The Twelve Steps program has an external locus of control. A person going through the steps attempts to make amends with everyone in their surrounding environment, constructing a new and happier environment for themselves while simultaneously working on their addictive cravings. On the other hand, holistic treatment is centred on an internal locus. Holistic treatment coaxes us to ask questions like: how can one accept, change or adapt to surroundings in order to live a healthier lifestyle?
There is no “right” answer, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. It’s about finding support and motivation through a method that works for you. Adapting your chosen therapy to fit your life is a great way to approach your recovery. If you are not spiritual, use your personal morals as a north star, and take recovery one step at a time.
Discover the power of holistic treatment.
Zen Detox is a renowned wellness retreat and clinic for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in New Zealand. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, give us a call and start on your personal journey to recovery.