Maximizing the 12-Step Program

The first 12-Step fellowship began back in 1935, and since then, it’s made huge strides not only in our country—but across the world. Millions of people participate in the 12-Step program, and it’s safe to say that it’s changed many lives for the better. Previous studies have concluded that 12-Step programs are much more than merely “advising a person to go to AA,” but rather emphasize attendance and participating in the steps completely, in addition to explaining the benefits of having a sponsor. The 12-Step program explores problems and psychological resistance throughout meetings, and they guide people in how to “work the steps.” With 12-Step programs, there are often social activities and events that take place and bring people together.  The 12-Step program provides many opportunities for a person to grow, but how can they truly harness this potential? 

If you’re ready to make the most of your 12-Step program, remember that it’s up to you to put in the work in order to get the most out of it. For example, if you were to only attend meetings sporadically, you wouldn’t get near the benefit out of them as compared to attending weekly and participating fully.

We help people with addictions and substance use disorders recover. Get mindfulness training and learn the 12 Steps for deeper healing.

If You Want to Truly Leverage Your Experience in Your 12-step Program, It’s Time to Consider Doing the Following

Participate in Meetings

Those who have used AA as part of their recovery have explained that by sharing their own story in 12-Step meetings, in addition to sitting and listening to other people’s stories, can greatly help them to learn more about other experiences and struggles that are quite common in sobriety and recovery. The only way that we can actually grow in 12-Step programs is to give and get a little—and this all starts from being present and participating fully.


Sponsorships do take a lot of work on both ends—and the most conducive relationships are those who both work to make the relationship meaningful. In order to make the most of a sponsor relationship, consider the following tips:

  1. Think long and hard about what type of person would help you the most.
  2. Take time to meet and get to know a person before asking them to be your sponsor.
  3. Learn as much as you can about your sponsor’s recovery story.
  4. Ask your sponsor about the expectations they have for you.
  5. Make your expectations clear to your sponsor too, so that they can help you the best way possible

Apply the 12-Steps to Your Daily Life

The reality is that we can’t help other people the way they need until they help themselves—and in order for you to make an impact on others’ lives one day, you’ll need to practice working the 12-Steps every day. By applying what we’ve learned about the 12-Steps, you’ll become stronger and more balanced in everyday life, and you’ll also discover some of the ideals that you previously held and create your own that are more meaningful to recovery.

Attending the meetings and reading through the Big Book can only get you so far, you have to remain diligent in working the 12-Steps, even on some of your hardest days. By applying the principles learned to your life outside of 12-Step meetings, you’ll be much more invested in your own recovery and you will have met many other people who could be there for you as well. Ultimately, the 12-Steps are meant to take people on a personal journey where they can learn and grow, and if you’re not actively applying them, then you won’t be able to thrive in the benefits that they can bring to your life.

Helping Others

Success in recovery can be found through participating in a 12-Step program, along with helping others in ways that could change their life for the better. Those who become devoted to the program typically find that they can become quite active in volunteer work and general service and, by giving back, there is so much joy to be found.

When you apply yourself to the program, you’re much better able to become a part of something much larger, and much more meaningful, than you ever thought possible. In fact, it’s through service that many people feel the most happy and fulfilled in their life and, in a way, helping others can allow your heart to grow bigger and bigger over time.

Live With Passion

Recovery is a beautiful chance to start living with more vitality, more energy, more purpose than ever before—and if you’re ready to transform your life, speak with a professional from Renewal Lodge today to get started. It’s never too late to find healing and restoration through 12-Step programs, along with many other effective components of treatment. Recovery is about determining what works best for you, but consistency is key. 12-Step programs serve as an excellent routine to get used to throughout recovery

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and mental health issues, a quality treatment program can provide you with strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety. At Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree, you will find a team of compassionate, knowledgeable professionals ready to coach each client through the 12-Steps and beyond. By structuring treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders, Burning Tree facilitates an environment of healing and holistic wellness. Here, our clients tackle their addictions head-on and harness the power to restructure their lives through high accountability and life skills that foster lasting sobriety. We specialize in treatment for the chronic relapser and believe that with the right tools, you can put an end to the cycle of addiction.

Find Healing At Renewal Lodge

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Dear Renewal Lodge Visitors,

My name is John Bruna, co-founder of the Mindfulness in Recovery® Institute, and more importantly, a grateful member of the recovery community. I am incredibly fortunate to have found my recovery in 1984. Of course, I did not achieve continuous recovery through willpower or my own efforts, but through the guidance and caring support of countless others that selflessly taught me how to live through the 12 Steps.

My journey of recovery brought this once homeless, shame-based, traumatized, insecure young man to a life far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I discovered self-worth, the joy of helping others, the gifts of parenting and grandparenting, and most importantly the ability to live a meaningful and purposeful life with integrity.

One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that I have the opportunity to give back and help others discover their self-worth, dignity, and the skills to fully live lives that they find truly meaningful. This is the inspiration for developing the skills of Mindfulness in Recovery® (MIR) to meet the needs of new generations struggling with alcohol and other substance use disorders. MIR is a set of evidence-based skills designed to help people fully integrate their tools of recovery in ways that are personalized, practical, and in alignment with their deepest values.

While we train counselors and therapists throughout the United States and abroad, I personally have chosen to work directly with the amazing team and clients at Renewal Lodge to develop the model MIR 12-step program for the nation. I choose Renewal Lodge because of the vision of its mission and the dedication of its team. Renewal Lodge is an extremely rare environment in which the staff embodies the very mindfulness and 12-step practices and skills they offer their clients. The results have been beyond my expectations. It is an honor to be here and I treasure my personal time with every client I meet.

With Gratitude,

John Bruna
John Bruna
Director of Mindfulness
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