Twelve-Step Programs

By Greg Baer M.D.

August 4, 2007

On many occasions people have commented that they see similarities between the principles of Real Love and the principles of the Twelve-Step recovery programs: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and so on.

Real Love was not derived from the Twelve Steps, but there are some similarities. As in Real Love, the twelve steps place a prominent emphasis on truth-telling and acceptance. I believe that it is for that reason that the Twelve Steps are often effective.

In some respects, however, Real Love and the Twelve Steps differ significantly:

  1. The Twelve Steps emphasize that addiction is a disease over which we have no power. Real Love teaches that addictive behaviors are not a disease at all but a response to the pain of insufficient love in our lives.
  2.  The Twelve Steps openly declare our need to rely on a Higher Power. Real Love recognizes that some people are not ready to take that step and instead introduces them to the healing power of Real Love from others, in the belief that this will eventually lead people to the infinite love from a divine source.
  3. In Twelve-Step meetings, people declare themselves to be in recovery when they’re no longer actively using a particular substance or behavior. In Real Love meetings, it is recognized that we can be addicted to anything that makes us feel good temporarily — drugs, alcohol, sex, anger, approval, victimhood, and so on — and that we must be vigilant about monitoring our tendencies toward addiction all our lives.
  4. In most Twelve-Step meetings, people describe themselves without receiving feedback from other people in attendance. In Real Love meetings, feedback from others is encouraged, because it is recognized that when we’re empty and afraid, we’re often blind to our behaviors and therefore unable to tell the truth about those behaviors without help from other people.

When people are first facing the truth of their addiction to a substance or behavior handled by one of the Twelve-Step programs — alcohol, drugs, food, or sex, for example — I often refer them to the relevant program. The Twelve-Step principles and the association with fellow addicts is often therapeutic, even life-saving. When people attend Twelve-Step meetings, they have an opportunity to see that their problem is not unique and to feel accepted. They hear the stories of people who have regained productive lives.

Most people, however, require more than the Twelve Steps. The basic cause of the addiction — the lack of Real Love — must also be addressed, and for that reason, I suggest that all addicts become involved in some kind of Real Love regimen in addition to their Twelve-Step program during the first year. Then, after a year, I further suggest that all addicts become primarily involved in finding and sharing Real Love, rather than continuing to emphasize their addictions in the Twelve Steps.

Learn more about overcoming addiction!


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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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