The 12 step program is perhaps the most popular treatment method for substance abuse. Its goal is to provide a positive, secure, and reliable environment for those battling substance addiction.
Here are some benefits of a 12 steps program:
- Participants can share their experience with others;
- It can provide a space to express grievances;
- It creates a form of bond between attendees.
Many treatments centers opt to employ the 12 step model because it allows patients additional space to address their addiction. It is common for those struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders to become distant from family and friends. Their recovery also depends on having a healthy support system that can help them get through the detoxification process, manage cravings, and avoid relapse.
A Short History Behind the 12-Step Program
The 12 step model was pioneered by the Alcoholics Anonymous group in 1938 when founder Bill Wilson used his own experience with alcoholism to help other addicts manage their condition. He found that creating a safe space for people where they can share their stories can have visible positive effects for overcoming their addiction.
The program is now known as the Big Book and many treatment facilities use it for its effectiveness. One interesting fact that few people know is that Christian values inspired the 12 steps. The creators of the program thought that turning to a greater power in times of suffering can offer tremendous help to those struggling with addiction.
The Big Book’s primary purpose was to help those who were unable to attend AA meetings, but rehab centers quickly adopted it as a model for addiction treatment.
The 12 Steps
The 12 envisioned by Alcoholics Anonymous are:
- Admitting the problem, and the individual’s lack of power over the addiction;
- Trusting that help can come from a higher power;
- Trusting that higher power to take control;
- Going through a period of self-reflection;
- Admitting the wrongdoings committed under the influence of addiction;
- Preparing for the higher power to correct character shortcomings;
- Requesting the higher power to help remove those weaknesses;
- Creating a list of all wrongdoings and committing to apologize for them;
- Asking forgiveness from those that you’ve hurt;
- Continue to self-reflect and admit any wrongdoings;
- Praying and meditating;
- Disseminating the 12 steps to those who need them;
The 12 Traditions
Unlike the 12 steps, the 12 traditions concern the AA as a group, and not individually. These rules are also integrated into the Big Book and have been adopted by AA groups together with the 12 steps.
- The common welfare of the group comes first;
- The higher power is the sole authority figure. Group leaders cannot govern;
- The only AA requirement is the desire to stop drinking;
- Each group is autonomous except in matters concerning the entire AA;
- The primary purpose is to carry out the message of AA to others;
- The AA name cannot be lent to any other group unless certain issues that prevent the organization from fulfilling its purpose arise;
- Every group is self-supporting and cannot accept outside contributions.
- AA must remain voluntary work;
- AA must never be organized;
- AA has no opinion on external issues and must not be drawn into public controversies.
- AA must preserve anonymity;
- Principles must be placed before personalities.
Are 12-Step Programs Religious?
Though the founders were dedicated Christians and the 12 steps make several references to a “higher power,” the model employs practical principles and not religious mandates.
As such, it is not solely intended for religious individuals, nor does it require conversion to participate. A common interpretation of the higher power is the acknowledgment of the individual power people have over their own lives. Each attendee can choose their own higher power, as the only requirement AA has concerns the individual’s desire to overcome addiction and not their religious beliefs.
Who Goes to 12-Step Meetings?
Though designed for those battling alcoholism, the 12 steps model has received immense popularity and has proven to be an efficient way for people suffering from other forms of addiction as well.
The model served as a basis for other groups or facilities, so people with narcotics, heroin, cocaine, and other substance addiction can also participate in similar programs.
Seek Help Now
Many detox centers offer the 12 step program as part of their treatment, allowing patients to form their own support system, and increase their chances at a full rehabilitation.