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Is 12-Step Necessary in Recovery?

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Recovery is a personal journey with any number of individual needs, goals, and therapeutic approaches that can be molded to create one’s best route to sobriety. One of the most prevalent and proven approaches involves the 12-Step program. This program serves as a structural basis for one’s recovery while creating a community of peers. 

The 12-Step program is still just one option and is not a necessary part of the recovery process. Rather, one can seek any number of other programs and approaches, depending on their own needs and goals. Creating one’s own best practices and communities throughout the journey to sobriety will yield the best results. 12-Step programs are only one option to help an individual pursue their sober goals. 

What Is 12-Step Recovery?

The 12-Step recovery model is an established recovery community that seeks to unify those battling addiction by creating a community of peers and a clear structure in which to pace the fundamental changes needed to maintain sobriety. While the program is closely tied with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA,) there are a number of other divisions of the program that address different addictions, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA,) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA,). 

These groups are dedicated to recovery from both addictive substances and behaviors alike. The 12 steps utilized in the program are similar across the board, with members following laid-out steps throughout their recovery. 

What Are the 12 Steps?

Since being established in 1953, the 12-Step recovery process is a tenured, widespread approach to addiction recovery. While there have been advancements and adjustments made to keep the practice up-to-date, it continues to follow its tried and proven 12 steps. According to the AA, these 12 steps are: 

#1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

#2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

#3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

#4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

#5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

#6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

#7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

#8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

#9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

#10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

#11. 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.

#12. 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.

While these 12 steps have proven incredibly beneficial for many, that does not mean that it will necessarily be the best fit for any one individual, and there are a number of barriers that may make the 12-Step program difficult for a person. 

The Barriers of 12-Step

The 12-Step program is not for everyone, and for some, the verbiage of “God” can be off-putting. While the 12-Step program is open to helping anyone who shares the goals of sobriety, some may still have reservations about the religious connotations within the program. This can be because an individual practices another religion, or because they prefer not to include religious connotations in their recovery altogether. 

While individuals’ religious beliefs and spirituality are not necessarily the same thing, the prevalence of such language can be difficult for many to process. These feelings can make it difficult to commit oneself to a community under these notions. 

Others may find difficulty with a particular part of the mentality of the program — particularly the admittance of powerlessness. Addiction recovery is a very vulnerable time. Depending on how an individual wants to pursue their sober future, they may prefer a program that instead champions personal development, courage, and agency rather than a feeling of powerlessness. 

Creating Your Own Success

There is no one path to a successful recovery. Though the 12-step program has been helpful and effective for many, it is by no means the only path to a sober future. Creating one’s own spiritual beliefs, practices, and structure can be very effective. 

With the tumultuous path of recovery ahead, some kind of structure and community is necessary. Working with professionals to pace one’s own expectations and milestones is essential, and finding a supportive community is crucial for creating new relationships with a focus on sobriety and accountability at any stage of recovery. Whether one engages in a 12-Step program or any other kind of sober community, recovery is always possible. Finding the right combination of professional support, structure, and sober and supportive peers is essential for maintaining and thriving in recovery. 

The 12-Step process is a tried and true approach to recovery. However, your own best practices will always be a very personal development. At Pacific Sands Recovery Center we embrace the personalized needs and goals that you have for your sober future. We offer an array of programs at all stages of recovery, from detox and residential treatment to ongoing outpatient care. We also provide dedicated 12-Step programming to help you find a community of peers, or we can help you develop your own best community and structure for your sober future. Whether you are just beginning your journey to a sober future today or are looking to continue building on your sober strategies, we can help you. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member, call us today at (949) 426-7962.

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