Alcohol addiction is a serious health issue affecting adults worldwide. Though this is a global issue, many people recover from it. According to NPR, 75% of people with addiction survive and go on to live their normal lives. One can recover from addiction in many ways, and one of the most effective ways is going through 12-step recovery programs. These programs have long existed and sound mysterious at times, especially to those who haven’t attended any of the meetings. Is the 12-step program effective, and what are the 12 steps? We shall discuss these in this post.
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What is a 12-Step Program?
A 12-step program is a self-help program used to treat addictions and other mental behaviors. Alcoholics Anonymous developed the initial program in 1930 to help struggling addicts. Since then, various addiction support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), and Overeaters Anonymous (OA), have adopted it and even modified it accordingly to treat addicts.
The program is based on guidelines and principles and involves group meetings where people walk through 12 steps to sobriety. These steps are designed to help individuals identify the underlying causes of their addiction and address them. This includes taking responsibility for their actions and making amends with those they may have hurt along the way.
Bill W, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, clarified that the program was effective because people helped themselves by helping others. The founder, addicted to alcohol, realized the only thing that kept him sober was assisting others to stay sober. He and his friend Bob Smith recognized the importance of this and decided to share and card for other alcoholics. This was how AA began, the basis of the 12-steps program.
Although the original program was for alcoholics, it has been adapted for compulsive behavior, such as drug and gambling addiction.
What Are the 12 Steps?
Below are the 12 steps in the 12-step program:
- Alcoholics must admit that they are powerless over addiction and that their lives have become unmanageable.
- They must believe that a Power greater than themselves could restore them to sanity.
- They must decide to turn their will and lives over to the care of God.
- They must make a searching and fearless moral inventory of themselves.
- Addicts must admit to God, themselves, and another human being the exact nature of their wrongs.
- They must be entirely ready to have God remove all character defects.
- They must humbly ask Him to remove their shortcomings.
- They should list all persons they have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
- Addicts must make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.
- Alcoholics must continue to take personal inventory and, when they are wrong, promptly.
- They must seek through prayer and meditation to improve their conscious contact with God, pray only for knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening due to these steps, they must try to carry the message to others and practice these principles in all their doings.
Note that these steps may not be followed chronologically when attending group meetings other than AA. However, they all follow the same basic guidelines, which are;
- Admitting their problems
- Turning to a higher power greater than themselves for help
- Taking inventory and seeking forgiveness
- Continuing recovery daily
- Helping others
What Are the Benefits of a 12-Step Program?
The 12-step program has proven to be a practical treatment approach for a long time. It is a structured approach that focuses on personal responsibility and growth, physically and spiritually. Some of the benefits of a 12-step program are:
- Community support: 12-step recovery programs provide a supportive community of people recovering from addiction. This group offers encouragement, advice, and accountability.
- Improved self-awareness: Alcoholics can better understand their thought processes and behaviors and how they can impact their addiction.
- Spiritual growth: The program encourages persons to connect with a higher power, which can help them understand their sense of purpose.
- Responsible: Attending meetings regularly can help addicts stay accountable to their recovery objectives.
- Enhanced coping skills: 12-step programs inculcate coping skills into individuals to help them manage stress, anxiety, and other triggers that can lead to relapse.
- Forgiveness: The program underscores the importance of making amends and letting go, which can enhance emotional healing and minimize feelings of guilt.
- Long-term sobriety: According to studies, those who participate in 12-step programs are more likely to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety than those who neglect the program.
You don’t have to be religious or a Christian to benefit from the program. Though it encourages you to seek a higher power, participants don’t have to follow the same doctrine. The program simply encourages you to seek higher power individually.
Do the 12 Steps Work?
The effectiveness of this program varies according to individuals, but many people have reportedly found the 12-step program helpful on their road to recovery. The program reflects on spiritual growth to maintain positiveness and encourages people to take responsibility for past actions.
The 12 steps also provide a sense of community and support to alcoholics. When used in conjunction with other addiction treatments like evidence-based therapy and medication-assisted treatment, it can lead to long-term recovery.
The 12-step program can be a powerful tool for maintaining sobriety. Cedar Oaks Wellness Center is here for you if you’re open to participating in the program. We use a holistic approach to treat addicts. We offer a variety of treatment programs and activities, including 12-step programs, and work with our clients closely to create recovery plans tailored to their needs.