Two Common Mistakes in AA That Almost Always Lead to Relapse
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Two Common Mistakes in AA That Almost Always Lead to Relapse


is a luxury detox and residential treatment facility located in Orange County, California. It offers evidence-based programming that utilizes 100 percent proven modalities to help men and women get off drugs and alcohol. In addition to the highest level of care in addiction and dual diagnosis treatment, it also boasts exceptional amenities. Clients enjoy comfortable, spacious accommodations, a state-of-the-art fitness center on campus, yoga, experiential and expressive art therapies, and delicious, healthy meals created by an expert chef—all this and more while enjoying the famous Southern California weather in a facility steps from the beach.

Another important offering at  is an introduction to 12-step recovery and its philosophy. The counselors assist clients with connecting to an AA community close to where they live after they have completed the residential program. The team at Lighthouse believes the most important thing is to learn how to succeed in recovery, not just get by.

However, while AA is a great tool and support system, it only works if someone fully commits to it. There are two common mistakes often made by people who complete formal treatment and continue with AA as a form of support after rehab:

Mistake #1: Failing to enlarge one’s spiritual life.

The first mistake that could easily lead someone to relapse while in AA is failing to enlarge their spiritual life. This means not taking their service commitments at meetings seriously, not giving back to their communities through volunteering or not actively helping others. A big part of the program of AA is realizing the self-obsession that consumes many alcoholics. Processing the reality that doing something as simple as asking someone else how they’re doing in order to get out of one’s own head can be life changing is a crucial part of staying sober. And while service commitments such as making coffee every Monday night at the meeting might seem futile, they’re actually a simple way to learn about the importance of accountability and a structured routine.

Another detriment to enhanced spirituality is not continuously seeking out a deeper understanding of what someone’s own spirituality means to them. An essential component to 12-step is coming to believe in a Higher Power (of your own understanding) and turning one’s self-will over to that Higher Power. Anyone working the steps of AA learns about the concept of “turning it over,” which is intended to create a sense of ease that they no longer have to rely on managing and controlling every aspect of their lives. Oftentimes the stress of having to deal with “life on life’s terms” is what ultimately leads someone to want to drink. Developing a sense of what God or a Higher Power means to them will create a sense of trust that they will be taken care of, no matter what. The process of practicing Step 3, turning problems, worries and obsessions over to the care of something greater than one’s self ultimately becomes therapeutic, instinctive and life altering.

Mistake #2: Letting up on the spiritual program of action.

The second of the common mistakes is letting up on the spiritual program of action. It’s often said in meetings that you can’t think your way into right acting, but you can act your way into right thinking. Sometimes just doing what’s in front of you is really all you can handle. There is also the concept of contrary action—when the alcoholic must do things he or she might necessarily want to do. This could be going to the meeting despite not feeling up for it or like they need it, or calling their sponsor when the last thing they want to do is call their sponsor. Whether it’s writing out a fourth step or making an amends, constantly taking action and staying honest eventually becomes second nature. The idea is simply to maintain a willingness to approach life differently and take the suggestions of those who have been able to stay sober and find serenity.

Getting Sober and Staying Sober

helps to teach clients the importance of working the steps and fully committing to the principles of AA. Getting clean and staying clean are two totally different things. Clients at Lighthouse do receive the gift of structure in early recovery, along with learning the power of staying present in the moment. They learn to cope with stress in healthy ways and establish a clear head that’s ready to take the action required by 12-step programs.

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