Counting the steps to recovery: personal reflection of addicts on what they consider to be the most helpful elements of the twelve-step programme.
Spencer, Susan Deborah.
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The Twelve -step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is an action-based, experiential form of treatment for alcoholism and addiction that is not easy to grasp from a theoretical perspective alone. Therefore this dissertation took an inside-out view of the twelve-step programme by exploring what elements in the programme recovering addicts consider as central to their sobriety. Particular attention was paid to the extent to which each of these core elements was seen to contribute to participants’ development of constructive affect regulation strategies. Theorists who have contributed to this contemporary field of affect regulation, and whose work this research has used to formulate its focus, include Edward Khantzian, with his self-medication hypothesis, and James Gross, who has developed a process model of emotional regulation identifying strategies used to regulate feelings. Participants identified five themes that were pivotal to their recovery and could be understood using ideas from affect regulation theory. These included: The philosophy and principles contained in the twelve-step programme; regular attendance at meetings; understanding addiction as a disease; acceptance of a Higher Power; and service to others. Based on participants reports they appeared to improve their repertoire of constructive affect regulation strategies as a result of working the twelve-step programme.