There are a number of programs and support groups that help people recovering from addiction. One of the most popular and successful forms of aftercare support is a 12 Step program. While the 12 Step program was originally created for Alcoholics Anonymous, the successfulness of its guidelines has caused it to be adapted to work for other forms of addiction as well.
12 Step programs function based off the idea that people can help one another achieve sobriety and maintain it long-term. By attending meetings, sharing experiences, and working with sponsors, those enrolled in 12 Step programs generally have better outcomes in recovery as compared to those who do not utilize it. Because it provides clients with a way to surrender their addiction, process the pass, and develop new behaviors moving forward, it helps clients develop the skills and tools needed to transform their futures.
The 12 Steps
Although originally created for Alcoholics Anonymous, the steps outlined for the program work well for drug addiction treatment as well. These steps do not need to be followed in a certain order, and in some cases, a person may need to revisit a specific step numerous times throughout their recovery journey. While the language may slightly shift, the purpose of the step remains the same. They are:
- We admit we are powerless over the substance and that our lives have become unmanageable
- We have come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity
- We have decided to turn our will and lives over to the care of God
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to other human beings the exact nature of our wrongs
- Were entirely ready for God to remove all defects of character
- We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings
- Made a list of those we have harmed and are willing to make amends to them all
- Made direct amends whenever possible unless doing so would cause injury to 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 for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out
- Having a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we try to carry His message to others struggling with addiction and practice these principles in all of our affairs
12 Step and Spirituality
12 Step programs are often associated with a heavy emphasis on spirituality, but even those who are not religious still find the program to be incredibly helpful. Language used to describe or emphasize God can be adapted to fit a person’s individual needs allowing them to interpret these steps in a way that is meaningful to them. This allows those in need of help the ability to join the program without feeling forced to follow a religion they may not believe in.
Using 12 Step Programs in Addiction Treatment
While 12 Step programs are incredibly beneficial for those in need of resources to manage sobriety long-term, it is no substitute for addiction treatment. Instead, it should be used in conjunction with a treatment plan. As long as the treatment plan is customized to address the unique needs of the individual, it can be impactful and a positive and often necessary addition to the recovery journey.
12 Step programs work well when utilized in aftercare services. They help a person continue working on their sobriety, and they encourage a connection with the sober community while helping many form meaningful relationships with others who readily relate to their experiences. In addition, they also provide participants with a way to give back to the community. Many may choose to take on the role of a mentor or sponsor in order to help others. This not only helps the person in need, but also puts a person in a unique position where they can reflect on their own journey and use lessons learned to help others in recovery.
While the steps a person follows are focused on the individual, the meetings held are aimed at helping the group. The focus in meetings is to help members express themselves through giving and receiving support. Unlike other group settings that require members to be sober, many 12 Step programs only require a person has a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol. This means some members may not have completed treatment before attending. It is open to anyone who wishes to attend and gather more information.
12 Step programs welcome people from all walks of life into their meetings. With a heavy emphasis on anonymity and privacy for all members, anyone is welcome to connect with the recovery community and begin working through the steps to reclaim their sobriety. Those who have undergone treatment prior to joining a 12 Step program tend to see better outcomes; however, access to treatment and resources will not serve as a barrier to anyone looking to get help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.