We all have heard about Alcoholic Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and all of the other variations of the 12-step method. These are a fabulous option for many addicts and alcoholics as they help many to get and stay sober. However, there are people who for whatever reason do not suit the 12 steps. Where do those people turn? I find many women have trouble finding alternatives to AA and NA because they want a place where they can talk openly without the presence of men. For me, Women for Sobriety (WFS) was that place.
In my very early days of sobriety, I was only attending my pretreatment for rehab once a week and NA meetings daily. I had no idea that the small city I live in, Windsor had any other options. I especially didn’t know that there were women only options. I stumbled upon Women for Sobriety (WFS) at one of my last pretreatment meeting before going into rehab. I was actually on my way to a NA meeting when I noticed a tiny sign on the exit door. I realized that WFS was at the same time as the NA meeting so I quickly changed plans and went there instead. I didn’t know then that it was a choice that would completely change my life.
When I walked into the door of my first Women for Sobriety meeting I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then, when I saw all the women, most of whom were older than me, I was so worried that I had made a huge mistake. I never got along with women before. I was always the type who always preferred men as friends, having grown up with three brothers. I had bad experiences with women, especially recently when I was assaulted before getting clean. So looking at this room full of women,I thought, “Oh no. What have I gotten myself into?!” Something I have learned though since finding WFS though, is not to judge a book by its cover. My initial response towards this situation was completely wrong. The women in this meeting just radiated happiness, positivity, and love. I couldn’t believe it. Self-love and happiness were such foreign concepts to me, so I was fascinated by the incredibly welcoming aura these women gave off. They say in the 12 steps that they will love someone until they can love themselves. That statement could not be truer for Women for Sobriety. When I walked through that door, I was completely broken. But now, after attending WFS meetings once a week, the love these women felt towards me has finally rubbed off so I can love and respect myself. They helped me stand on my own two feet even though I came in metaphorically laying in the fetal position.
Although many women attend both AA/NA and Women for Sobriety, they each have their individual purposes and ‘should be kept separated for the purpose of the meeting’. One of the main differences I found between the 12 steps and WFS was the positivity. Women for Sobriety believes in boosting each other up and showing other women that they can competently manage their lives and be happy. WFS teach women that they are ‘capable, competent, caring and compassionate’ (otherwise known as the 4C’s). One of the biggest examples of this positivity comes from the difference in how someone introduces themselves at a meeting. At a NA meeting, I would say, “I’m ‘name’ and I’m an addict.” In Women for Sobriety, however, being an addict is implied so rather than putting one down further, I would say, “I’m Jordyn and I’m a competent woman.” This subtle difference in introductions gives women such a needed boost of confidence, something they are often lacking when they come to a WFS meeting.
Another difference is there are no 12 steps. Instead, Women for Sobriety uses the 13 Affirmations (included below) from founder Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick’s New Life Program. The idea behind it is that you read the 13 affirmations daily and choose one to use throughout the day. Over time, your brain (like with any positive affirmations) will notice a discrepancy between your newly positive thoughts and negative behavior, so to fix this uncomfortable disconnect, you will start to act in a positive way to match your thoughts. Even just being more aware of your thoughts will help someone to change their behavior. The whole idea is that positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative, so if you have positivity in your life, positivity will come to you. That being said, you can’t just read them and expect change. To make the program work, you must actively make the changes in your life according to the New Life Program and maintain your sobriety.
The Women for Sobriety program totally transformed my life. I no longer am constantly haunted by my past or by my negative thoughts. I am much more positive as I actively seek out happiness. I love WFS so much and believe that if more women knew about it, more women would be sober. There is even a Men for Sobriety variation as well. I feel that women truly need a place where they can share their traumas, dreams, “hopes and experiences with other women in similar circumstances.” Women for Sobriety is what helped me find the pieces of myself so that I could build myself back up to the women I want to be.
Each week I attend a WFS meeting where I share about my week and am taught to fix the problems that arise, but also to see the positivity in my life. It truly has taught me to be grateful for the things I do have rather than to be upset about the things I don’t. These meetings also give me a chance to give back to other women. In fact, I recently have started hosting my own Women for Sobriety meetings at my local detox. I wanted to give them the chance to choose a different meeting and treatment option so that maybe they can get sober before making the choices I did after leaving detox in April 2014. Without Women for Sobriety and the New Life Program I wouldn’t be here today to even be able to give back the support that WFS gave to me when I was broken down. I only hope more women find this program so they can get their lives back.
Here are the 13 Affirmations of Women for Sobriety:
- I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility.
- Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
My first conscious sober act must be to remove negativity from my life.
- Happiness is a habit I will develop.
Happiness is created, not waited for.
- Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to.
I now better understand my problems and do not permit problems to overwhelm me.
- I am what I think.
I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
- Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.
- Love can change the course of my world.
Caring becomes all important.
- The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.
- The past is gone forever.
No longer will I be victimized by the past. I am a new person.
- All love given returns.
I will learn to know that others love me.
- Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
I treasure all moments of my new life.
- I am a competent woman and have much to give life.
This is what I am and I shall know it always.
- I am responsible for myself and for my actions.
I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.
Author’s note: I am in no way against the 12 steps and have attended (and still attend) NA meetings. I’m simply someone who is open to different options for sobriety. I believe that whatever gets you sober is up to the individual.
This article was authored by Substance For You blogger Jordyn Dalton. Jordyn shares her remarkable addiction, recovery, eating disorder, and mental health stories with us out of the courage in her heart, providing others a guidance of hope. Jordyn can be found on Twitter to follow if you so please @JordynDalton
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