Twelve Step Programs Explained – with Ben Goresky – Episode #80 of The Evolving Man Podcast

Ben Goresky

Twelve Step programs have helped millions of people recover from addictions over the past 85+ years. In this episode we talk about why they work, the myths and the criticisms, and we make an attempt at a balanced look at the pros and cons of these programs.


This is a solo episode with Ben Goresky – an addiction recovery coach with 15 years of personal experience in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. After embedding himself in these programs and studying them deeply, Ben stepped away from the programs to focus on other healing modalities. He shares a viewpoint of the program that is rare: the inside view, and the outsider view.


Topics discussed in this episode:


  1. Who can benefit from Twelve Step programs: Discover if you’re an ideal candidate.
  2. Exploring the variety of 12 step programs for different addictions.
  3. Navigating triggers, pitfalls, and negative experiences within these programs.
  4. The role of spirituality and the use of “big G” God language in the steps.
  5. Debunking the religious overtones: Are Twelve Step programs religious or spiritual?
  6. Addressing powerlessness and disempowering language in the steps.
  7. Understanding the reality of addiction: Loss of control and continued substance use despite consequences.
  8. The empowering use of the Disease Concept in addiction recovery.
  9. Overcoming tribalism and cult-like tendencies within 12 step communities.
  10. Unraveling the connection between underlying trauma and addiction.
  11. The dynamics of sponsorship: Challenges and strategies for making it work for you.
  12. Embracing empowering terminology and breaking free from the label of “addict.”
  13. Examining the frequency of the term “addiction” and its implications.
  14. Reframing the saying “Once an Addict, Always an Addict.”
  15. Foundational steps 1-3 – Breaking through denial, accepting the problem, and choosing a guiding wisdom.
  16. House cleaning steps (4-9): Embracing radical ownership and personal growth.
  17. Maintenance steps (10-12): Mastering growth and evolution on a daily basis.
  18. Harnessing the power of service work for successful sobriety and recovery.
  19. Identifying the two crucial factors that make Twelve Step programs effective.
  20. Tips for optimizing your Twelve Step experience and finding resonant meetings and like-minded individuals.


Links for this episode: