SUBJECT: 12 Step Article
DATE: 04/03/2021 05:56:06 PM
"Hello, I'm an addict called Jake."
I have introduced myself and greeted other in this similar fashion over the last several years at various twelve step groups. I have found myself participating in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery, all with the common goal in mind; to help the still suffering. There were time I was truly working the program and the steps they entail, and others where I'd leave early to go score. It didn't matter where I currently was in my journey of addiction, or on my road to recovery, the ladies and gentlemen of these groups continuously welcomed me home with open arms. They helped wipe away any shame or guilt I've ever felt from my mistakes in the past, and proud of the potential man I could mold myself into.
Twelve step groups are common in the jail, prison, and institution setting. The belief and concept is known and recognized internationally, and truly work, only if you work it. Twelve step groups have no affiliation with the institution that chooses to hose the program, but allows the use of its name.
Programming in prison is a method used to keep inmates productive and active during their incarceration, and to help reduce the rate of recidivism. Unfortunately, most of the programs available are a joke and the majority of the inmates simply sign into a program to receive time credit, and have no real desire in learning the content or curriculum. Personally, I have attempted to take over a hundred programs during my incarceration, only to find out the facilitator didn't care or take it seriously, and it's use was only to make their transcripts more appealing. I've possessed a strong desire to grow since the day I walked behind these walls, so this was upsetting to me to say the least. Although this was true for most programs, there was one that didn't follow this pattern.
The twelve step program was hosted by the psychology department, as most drug treatment programs are. When I first entered the group it appeared to look like any other standard recovery groups I've previously participated in. Participants appeared ready to read the "Why Are We Here?" and "How It Works" cue cards. Obviously this has to be some sort of charade, just in case a staff member walks in, it has to be believable. The meeting transitioned into a life's story segment where I witnessed a characteristic most inmates would never dare to shed; vulnerability. Honest tears were pouring as this man exposed his struggles and cried out for help. I offered a bit of assistance where I could. He seemed to truly allow my words to soak into him and took it to heart.
Besides the weekly visits from my lovely wife, this became yet another thing I could look forward to each week. When the opportunity appeared, I was quick to volunteer to lead the group as a facilitator, where I made sure to properly host the meeting with Little Debbie's snacks and instant coffee. Slowly I began to share my own experiences, as I felt myself growing stronger and closer with each of these individuals synthesizing an unexpected brotherhood. All was well and good, until we were suddenly bombarded with some unfortunate news. The program was proposed to be canceled at the institution.
The claimed reasoning for the termination of the program that was delivered to us, was due to budget cuts in the prison. This is about the most inaccurate and worst excuse I believe they could think of to tell us. All of the material is already accessible and provided here, and the group is inmate facilitated, so I don't see where any money is being used or misused. Myself and the other men devised a plan to invite the warden to one of our groups, to show the benefits the program holds, and how special it was to each and every one of us. He quickly declined our offer, and terminated the program anyways.
Until the pandemic hit, the group decided to continue on without the support of the prison and we met on our own time at recreation. This was the only way we can ensure everyone's path to recovery continued to transition in the most smooth manner possible. Still today, I continue to pray for each of their success.
Just for today, I will be unafraid, my thoughts will be on my new associations, people who are not using and who have found a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear. Nothing!
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