Twelve-step programs are structured support groups for people who want to get help for addiction and various other destructive behaviors. It is the most common form of addiction support around the world and is used by millions of people.
The basic premise of 12 step programs is for members to adopt and follow a set of guiding principles, known as the 12 Steps. The group setting allows individuals to share experiences, support, and hope with others in a similar situation. Millions of participants that have followed the steps in order and regularly attend meetings have had great success in remaining on the road to recovery.
Today, we’re going to find out a little more information about the world’s most popular addiction recovery model.
The 12 Steps
Although there are many different versions of the program, depending on the facility or addiction treatment center, the original and most common version of the steps from Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand God.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- We have made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening due to these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many rehabilitation centers and addiction treatment facilities use 12 step programs as the cornerstone of their recovery treatment, combined with evidence-based practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medical treatment. Many recovering addicts continue to attend meetings once they have left rehab to help them remain focused on sobriety.
What Makes 12 Step Programs Successful?
Although not everyone who does a 12 step program will remain sober, when used in conjunction with evidence-based and medical treatments, 12 step programs are incredibly successful. Here’s why:
- Structure: Creating healthy habits and routine is a crucial part of recovery. Addicts are unlikely to have had much structure in their lives before seeking help, and routine helps them stay on track. Regular meetings provide tools that addicts can use to stay sober. The structure of the meetings themselves is designed to be as successful as possible.
- Accountability: A big part of any 12 step program is identifying, apologizing, and making amends with friends and family who were hurt by the individual’s addiction. This doesn’t just help reform broken bonds; it also forces individuals to take responsibility for their actions and see the consequences of their addiction on the people they care about.
- Continuity: One of the things that people in recovery struggle with most is adjusting to everyday life again once they leave rehab centers. The popularity of 12 step programs makes them widely available and gives people the opportunity to keep attending meetings to stay sober.
- Community: Most 12 step programs are conducted in a group setting, and while this can be a little intimidating for newcomers, they often end up making lifelong friends here. It’s easier to stay on the path to recovery when surrounded by people with shared experiences and similar needs. Twelve-step programs develop strong communities among attendees that help keep participants sober.
- Sponsors: Not all 12 step programs use sponsors, but many do and are incredibly successful. More often than not, sponsors are former addicts themselves, and they are there to keep individuals accountable for their actions, give advice, and provide support to their person where they can.
As you can see, 12 step programs are some of the most popular forms of addiction treatment in the world—for good reason. When used in conjunction with other forms of recovery, it is a highly successful form of treatment that has helped millions of people beat addiction. Of course, a willing mind and an open heart are always needed for recovery, and those who approach their 12 step place with these attributes stand the best chance of staying sober.
National Alcohol Awareness Month
April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). This yearly public awareness campaign is “aimed at educating people about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism, particularly among our youth, and the important role that parents can play in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives.”
Alcohol is the most misused substance by teens and adults in the United States.
Are you concerned about your use of alcohol? Take this free screening to see if you are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash
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