In the rooms of AA, I often hear that treatment “is a joke,” or that the real help comes once you work the steps. I’m not a doctor, a therapist, or a professional in the field—simply a recovering addict—but I do believe that my treatment center helped build the foundation of my recovery today.

I Learned About the Disease of Addiction

I was fortunate enough to check myself into a treatment center with a philosophy centered in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. For some, the Big Book and the concept of addiction as a physical, mental, and spiritual disease are not discovered until they attend their first AA meeting. Understanding my addiction as a disease helped me accept my condition, the circumstances that brought me to treatment, and the solution that was presented to me—a new way of life through the steps.

We Practiced Meditation Daily

Meditation didn’t come easily for our group of addicts in early recovery, but our 15 minutes of group meditation every morning encouraged me to keep trying. Meditation is an activity, like reading or writing, that improves with practice and requires repetition to gain traction. The more my body and mind healed, the greater benefits I reaped from meditation daily. Had I not gained experience meditating in treatment, I might not have tried it on my own time and integrated it into my recovery today.

I Had a Sponsor in Treatment

Counselors connected all clients with local people in recovery, through AA meetings as well as guest speakers, and helped us find sponsors while we were in treatment. In addiction, I had become accustomed to my isolation and I didn’t want to tell another woman about myself or my life. Having a sponsor in treatment showed me the benefits of developing a relationship with a sober support, of sharing my history and talking about even my worst feelings. It became easier to call someone and talk every day. If I hadn’t done this treatment, I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable or motivated to find a sponsor once I left treatment.

I Worked the Steps

Fortunately, I had time to work through all of the steps while I was in treatment. Though I still worked the steps again once I left treatment, becoming acquainted with the steps in a safe treatment environment allowed me to focus on them wholeheartedly and I wasn’t fearful of tackling them again. I experienced some of the relief that came along with doing my fifth step, making some amends, taking a nightly inventory, and helping another suffering addict. This propelled me to continue working the AA program, which brought me so much hope when I felt broken.

Treatment is a formative time for a recovering addict—the ideas that seem to save us end up staying with us. Without my “gift of desperation” in treatment, I might have scoffed at meditation, a sponsor, the steps. Treatment can be a place of teaching and healing, stepping stones to a lifetime of recovery.

Nadia Sheikh is a recovering addict, working with Sober Nation as a content writer and web developer. You can find her with Sober Nation’s Social Media profiles on Twitter and Facebook.