I'd like to share more from Martin Nicolaus' book, "Empowering Your Sober Self." http://www.amazon.com/Empowering-Your-Sober-Self-Addiction/dp/047037229X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1250777093&sr=1-1#This book is helping me articulate and understand my own experience and I believe that will help me move forward in my recovery.
The 12-Step Gauntlet of Negativew Emotions
Research shows that stress and other negative emotions are important risk factors in producing relapse in the newly sober. Negative emotional states are by far the leading cause of relapse. In this regard, the clinical wisdom of exposing people who are newly sober to the experience of the 12-step program is open to question.
The 12-step program, as others have pointed out, is a gauntlet of negative emotional encounters.
In step 1, as we have seen, there is the stress of feeling powerless.
In step 2, there is the stress of being labeled insane.
In step 3, people are asked to surrender themselves, again raising the feeling of powerlessness.
In step 4, people are told to take a "moral inventory" implying that they are morally deficient and setting the stage for feelings of guilt and shame.
In step 5, people are supposed to focus on all their "wrongs."
Step 6 centers on the person's "defects of character."
Step 7 has to do with "shortcomings."
In step 8, people are asked to look at all the harm they have caused to other people, underlining what Bad Persons they are.
In steps 9 and 10, this is repeated and deepened.
Step 11 implies that people are too clueless to figure out what to do with their life.
Step 12 calls on people to recruit other alcoholics to undergo this same series of exposures.
In my experience, the program of AA was a house of cards that toppled when my addiction became reactivated. After six years of working the 12 steps, I felt so bad about myself inside that I didn't feel I deserved sobriety, or much of anything good in my life. Intuitively, I knew that not only was it not helping me, it was making me worse. But every person I spoke with (almost), every professional, every recovering person (almost) still said AA was the way to go. And because I really do try to be a very good girl, I went back over and over for 15 years, not consciously realizing that every time I walked through the doors it reinforced the negative feelings about myself. You can't keep feeding yourself the poison and expect to get well. In my opinion that goes for alcohol and AA.