The 12-Step Program has been a hallmark of substance abuse programs for decades for a simple reason – it works. Developed initially by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), it has been adapted to help people struggling with substance abuse to achieve and maintain abstinence. The structure that a 12-step rehab program provides, coupled with peer support, are what makes them an effective treatment option for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
What is The 12-Step Rehab Model?
12-step rehab programs differ from other types of addiction treatment because it is based on the idea that people can help each find sobriety by talking about their experiences with addiction in a group setting. Perhaps the most important driving force behind a 12-step program is that people in the group must “surrender” to a higher power in order to achieve sobriety.
12-step rehab programs can be traced back to the late 1930s, and have continued to evolve to meet the needs of their members ever since. 12-step rehab programs have a number of very important benefits, which make them an effective way for many people to help combat cravings and relapses. The five biggest benefits include:
- They’re very accessible
Nearly every city and town across the nation has at least one 12-step group with regular meetings. This makes them the most accessible addiction treatment option today, making it easy and convenient for people to get the support that they need.
- They provide a sense of community
Being able to spend time with people who understand what you are going through in your recovery journey is one of the best ways to ensure success. These people will be able to offer advice when times are tough, and help you celebrate milestones and achievements as you progress.
- They help you stay committed to your recovery
The regular structure of 12-step meetings help you to stay on track by always keeping your recovery in front of you as a reachable goal. They also help you to remember hard-fought successes, and why sobriety is important to you.
- They provide much-needed structure
One of the most common reasons why people end up relapsing is due to having too much unfilled free time. The structure of 12-step programs helps you stay on track by filling some of your free time with positive sober activities.
- They give you a chance to help others
12-step groups often encourage volunteerism for their members. Getting out into the community to help those less fortunate than yourself can improve your self-esteem, get you out of the house, and help distract you from your own problems by having you help work on the problems of others.
How Do I Know if a 12-Step Rehab Program is Right for Me?
Different programs tailor their 12 steps to recovery to meet different needs. Our team can help provide guidance on selecting the appropriate program for you and even your loved ones, but ultimately it is up to you to select the program that best helps with your recovery. Well-known groups with widespread success include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)
- Al-Anon for friends & family of Alcoholics
- Codependents Anonymous (CoDA)
- SMART Recovery
- Celebrate Recovery (Christian-based 12-step)
The thing that sets a 12-step rehab program apart is that everyone in the program follows a set of guidelines – or “steps” – to work toward recovery. The steps are not linear, and can be revisited anytime someone is struggling with their recovery. While the steps differ slightly in wording from group to group, the guidelines of 12-step originator Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:
- 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.
- We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- 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.
- 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.
In addition to providing 12 actionable steps, there are two critical components of any 12-step rehab program:
- Group Setting
Anonymity is protected and maintained in a group setting that allows attendees to focus on sharing struggles and successes with individuals who can relate without judgment.
A sponsor is a person who is further along in their sober journey and willing to guide a newcomer through their process.