12 Step Programs: 12 Steps to Recovery for Drug & Alcohol Treatment

The 12-step program, first developed and used by Alcoholics Anonymous, is a 12-step plan to overcome addictions and compulsions. The primary area of this model is that one can help the other person abstain from drug and alcohol abuse. Still, reaching this kind of healing is never easy. It is only easy if the victim is ready to surrender and quit drugs. 

The 12-step movement is a force that many people might find it hard to interpret and surrender to. However, with the right kind of assistance, the movement can help the person. Even though most people might prefer many other addiction treatment programs, there are people who still prefer the 12-step movement for their alcohol addiction recovery. 

What are 12-step programs?

In a nutshell, 12-step programs are a set of procedures used to help people overcome addictions. There are two major versions of the 12-step program: one developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and another by Narcotics Anonymous. These are the two primary ways to get a handle on addiction. Both can be helpful, but each is tailored to the needs of the individual.

To refer to 12-step programs, many call them “the 12 steps.” This is a paraphrase of the model first used by Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps were created as guidelines for recovery from alcoholism. The name “12 steps” came from a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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The history of the 12 step programs?

Although the name implies that the 12-step programs originated in religion, many of the early meetings were designed around an aspect of the Christian faith. In a word, the 12-step program attempted to create a methodology that offered a framework for recovery from addictive behaviors while keeping to traditional Christian principles. However, the origin of the 12-step program is hotly contested. Some historians attribute the development of the 12-step plan to two men: Alpheus Cutler and Bill Wilson, both of whom are recognized today as crucial AA members. 

How do they work?

In 12-step recovery, attendees recognize that they are powerless over drug or alcohol use and that, therefore, help is available from a higher power. For many people, the feeling that they have been given a second chance at life by a higher power is a powerful and positive force in their recovery. The 12-step model also includes a renewed faith in humanity. A message of forgiveness is prevalent in the 12-step approach. Many treatment programs also offer classes for attendees on spirituality, a path to personal growth, and a path to community service to contribute back to the lives of those they have harmed.

Are they effective?

When studied, 12-step methods are at least as effective as other forms of treatment for addiction, but they come with significant limitations.

While not harmful, 12-step programs can be emotionally challenging. Many people require withdrawal, but some may require detoxification before or while in the program, depending on recovery. Further, there are ongoing concerns about potential substances of abuse and diversion present within the program.

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Alternative to the 12 step programs?

There is no one right or wrong way to deal with addictions. Alternative addiction treatment programs differ significantly, but generally, they encourage acceptance of an awareness of one’s addicted state and self-control over one’s actions regarding the said state. Alcoholics Anonymous claims that its program is merely a practical way for its members to learn how to cope with the negative consequences of alcoholism and have more control over the thoughts and actions surrounding their addictive tendencies. Addiction treatment specialists say that “there is nothing in 12-step recovery that prevents people from recovering on their own.”

In the process of creating a new, whole, and comprehensive identity and its manifestation in all aspects of life, the concept of inclusion deals with the person’s new identity. It includes the boundaries that were imposed on you when you were in recovery from addiction. You will find that the walls in your recovery program have gone up or that they have to come down because of your life circumstances. But the positive thing to take away from this concept is that you are now included in a new family of those in recovery. You no longer have to hide what has happened in the past. You no longer have to be ashamed of your experiences with addiction. These boundaries are now gone. However, you must understand that you are still in recovery.