12 Step Programs for Addiction Recovery
In your research of drug and alcohol rehab centres, you have likely run across something known as 12-step addiction rehab. The 12-step strategy is rather common in the USA and throughout the world. It is a strategy that has enjoyed a proven record of success ever since being developed more than seven decades ago.
We’ll explain the 12-step recovery process in just a minute. Are you here because you suspect you might have an abuse or addiction problem? If so, there is no better time than right now to begin the process of getting the help you need to recover. All you need do to start that process is get in touch with us.
If you are here out of concern for a friend or loved one, we want to help you as well. We know you cannot force the individual you are thinking of to enter rehab. However, should that person make the decision on his or her own, you’ll want to be ready with information about available treatment options. We can give you that information if you contact us.
History of the 12-Step Programme
Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, alcohol manufacturing, transportation, and sales were all illegal in the United States. However, that did not stop people from drinking. By the time Prohibition ended in 1933, America was facing alcoholism at an alarming rate. Two recovering alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith, founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1938. They developed the 12-step rehab programme for use in their local fellowship.
The programme did not become the official strategy of Alcoholics Anonymous until it was published in a 1939 book chronicling the success rates the fellowship was seeing. Once published, it became the standard programme of rehab treatment for all Alcoholics Anonymous fellowships across the country. By the late 1940s and early ’50s, other organizations were asking permission to use the programme after seeing how successful it was. It is now the standard for most types of addiction recovery around the world.
The 12 Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous to establish guidelines for the best way to overcome an addiction to alcohol. The program gained enough success in its early years for other addiction support groups to adapt the steps to their own needs.
" There are many 12-step programs for various addictions and compulsive behaviors, ranging from Cocaine Anonymous to Debtors Anonymous—all using the same 12 Step methods."
Although the 12 Steps are heavy on spirituality, many nonreligious people have found the program immensely helpful. The language emphasizes the presence of God as each participant understands him, allowing for different interpretations and religious beliefs.
The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
Because recovery is a lifelong process, there’s no wrong way to approach the 12 Steps as the participant tries to figure out what works best for their individual needs. In fact, most participants find that they will need to revisit some steps or even tackle more than one of the steps at a time.
Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol– that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
- Made a list of 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.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 Traditions
The 12 Traditions speak to the members of Alcoholics Anonymous as a group, unlike the steps, which are focused on the individual. The traditions are defined in the Big Book, the main governing literature of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most 12-step groups have also adopted the 12 traditions for their own recovery plans.
Here are the 12 traditions:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority– a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose– to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- An AA group ought never to endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside the enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- AA, as such, ought never to be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Why It Works
The secret to the success of the 12-step programme is the core of personal responsibility. Upon entering rehab, the average addict sees some external circumstance or other people as the root cause of his or her addiction. They are unable to recognize that they alone are responsible for their actions, thus exacerbating the addiction cycle. The 12-step programme changes this by forcing the addict to do an abrupt about-face.
This about-face is necessary given the fact that the only true cure for addiction is permanent abstinence. Moreover, achieving permanent abstinence requires a decision by the addict to take responsibility for him or herself and their future actions. There is no medication or surgery that can do this for them.
How It Works
A rehab facility utilizing the 12-step approach takes advantage of a number of therapies that are integrated into the 12 steps. In most cases, medically supervised detox is the first therapy. Detox is necessary in order to conquer the physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. After detox, the client is put into an extensive rehab programme.
Rehab utilizes a number of different behavioral therapies aimed at retraining the recovering addict’s thinking processes. It includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), group counseling, individualized counseling, and life skills training.
Does the Model Work?
Because of the anonymity of the program and lack of formal research available, it’s hard to tell just how effective the 12 Step model is. However, the prominence of this type of treatment, as well as success stories from recovering addicts, suggest it is effective.
At the very least, the 12 Step model provides support, encouragement, and accountability for people who genuinely want to overcome their addiction. The sponsorship model, as well as regular meeting times, encourage the kind of social support that has helped countless people stay clean.
Whether you are visiting our website for yourself or on behalf of someone else, please take comfort in the fact that the 12-step programme is very successful. It may sound frightening, but millions have completed it and gone on to permanent sobriety. You can too.
Rest assured that throughout your treatment you would be receiving the best care from trained and compassionate professionals who have your best interests at heart. Their goal is to do whatever it takes to ensure you live an addiction-free life after you leave their facility. That’s what it’s all about.
With more than 50,000 Alcoholics Anonymous groups nationwide (and thousands of other Anonymous groups for various addictions), you’re bound to find one that works for you. Contact us now so we can help you find a meeting.
Alcoholics Anonymous. (2014). Big Book Online. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 http://www.aa.org/twelveandtwelve/en_tableofcnt.cfm