Attending a treatment program, including one more long-term than a Bethesda Workshop intensive, is only the beginning of the journey of transformation. Getting help is an important first step, but if that’s all someone does, he or she won’t recover successfully. Genuine, lasting transformation requires more.

The Twelve Step tradition refers to this more as “working a program of recovery.” That means a person consistently takes specific action steps such as:

  • Attend 12 Step or faith-based meetings (ideally at least 3 times a week; daily is better)
  • Daily connect with other recovering people (by phone preferably or email)
  • Use a sponsor as a guide for recovery
  • Solicit daily accountability from multiple people who know your story
  • Cultivate community
  • Use an Internet filter
  • Practice healthy boundaries
  • Read recovery literature
  • Practice emotional presence
  • Practice healthy self-care
  • Receive counseling as needed
  • Use medication when appropriate
  • Cultivate a deeper relationship with God

Taking these actions is crucial, and a recovering person must be willing to “go to any lengths” to work a program, especially in the early stage until sobriety has been well established for a number of years. As the 12 Step slogan says, recovery “works if you work it.” Then some groups add, “And it won’t if you don’t.”