Peer Recovery Support Series: A Matter of Life and Death — Why the Discourse Around Twelve Step Recovery and Women Needs to Change


The method and frequency that women have accessed recovery for their substance use challenges has changed significantly over the past several decades. In the past, there was generally one pathway recommended, which was the Twelve Step pathway. In this 21st century, the concept of a recovery patchwork continues to gain attention and traction. Unfortunately, and to the recovery movement’s great detriment, as the number of other and newer recovery options has grown, so too has a deep tension and polarity between the ‘multiple pathway’ and the ‘Twelve Step’ approaches. In this presentation, Dr. Nickel emphasizes an important truth: no one group, organization, or program has a monopoly on healing. Individuals and professionals in recovery have a responsibility to acknowledge that modalities that might not work for one person may very well save another person’s life. Those of us living and working in the recovery space need to evolve towards unity, not uniformity.

Time: 12PM Eastern Time


Dawn Nickel, PhD, is a respected thought leader in the women’s recovery sphere and (along with her daughter Taryn Strong) the Founder of SHE RECOVERS Foundation, a not-for-profit grassroots organization that inspires hope, reduces stigma, and empowers women in or seeking recovery for substance use and/or mental health challenges. Nickel is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach, with a PhD and professional experience related to women and health care policy. In her work as a researcher and consultant, Nickel has focused largely on exploring how best to support women who experience substance use disorders, mental health issues and intimate partner violence, the three issues that prompted Nickel to start her own personal recovery journey in 1987.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the concept of ‘individualized recovery patchworks’ for women.
  • Participants will be able to summarize how 12-step recovery can be empowering and transformative for many women, but not work for others.
  • Participants will be able to share with their clients different forms of available support groups for their female clients.
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