Advice freely given….

Anyone who has been to an AA meeting, either in a rehab or elsewhere will have noticed the huge amount of advice, often unasked for advice, that is freely given and dispensed by members on virtually every single topic can be talked about.

For many people this is not really that much of the problem, and most AA members will often ignore the majority of that advice.

It is in striking contrast that in Al-Anon meetings, the opening statement will normally make reference to the fact that members do not offer advice or solutions to other Al-Anon members.

There is a really important issue about giving and receiving advice on matters to do with alcoholism and 12-step recovery generally. Anyone entering a rehab either as an inpatient or a family member will be dealing with a situation that has a huge number of very difficult decisions to be made, on a wide variety of topics.

The alcoholic is likely to be feeling a high degree of pressure, often internal, which will make any decision making process that much more difficult.

There may be some practical matters where guidance or advice is appropriate, but a lot of the time what the person really needs is some time. The value of giving an individual time is that they can process their inner world, and come to a sense of what they need to do to move their life forward.

This is unlikely to happen in the short timeframe that someone is in rehab, but is an important principle that the individual needs to carry on once they have left.

The other important thing about bombarding people with a lot of advice, is that you are also sending the message that they are not capable of making the decision for themselves, and need someone else to do their thinking for them.

Anyone entering any 12 program either in rehab, going directly to meetings actually needs one thing above anything else.

That is the emotional space and the time they need as already mentioned to learn to trust themselves with their own lives. This sense of trusting themselves is a huge part of the recovery process.

It is often said that the best way to view the process of how Alcoholics Anonymous works is to think of it as a body of experience, embodied in the literature, since it first began to the present day. The individual has a complete freedom to use this experience in any way that they find helpful or not.

This gives the individual freedom to decide for themselves how they intend or choose to interpret the experience of those who have come before them.

Advice, is of itself neither good nor bad. There is good advice and bad advice.

In the context of rehabs and 12 step work it should be remembered that the majority of new people are quite vulnerable for a period of time, and are more susceptible to believing other peoples thinking than their own. This is a dangerous process, and the exact opposite of what the recovery process should actually be.