Twelve-step programs aim to help people recover from addictions to substances, behaviors, and compulsions. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), founded in 1935, was the first organization to implement a twelve-step recovery program to help its members recover from alcoholism.
Since then, dozens of other organizations have sprung up to address drug addiction, compulsive gambling, sexual addiction, and overeating. These organizations aim to assist people in overcoming these challenges. The original version of Alcoholics Anonymous’ suggested twelve steps was published in the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism in 1939. A modified version of these steps is used in all twelve-step programs.
Do you want to know if these twelve-step programs work? In any case, stay tuned for a breakdown of the 12-step program and its numerous benefits.
The Twelve Steps
Though the original Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been modified over time, the premise of each step remains the same for all 12-step recovery programs.
You can gain insight into your own experiences, strength, and hope for your recovery by breaking down the 12 steps in depth and seeing how others have applied the principles in their lives. The steps and principles are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Honesty: After years of denial, recovery can start with a simple admission that a person is powerless over alcohol or other drugs. Friends and family members may also use this step to acknowledge their loved one’s addiction.
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Faith: You must first believe in a higher power before it can begin to work. Addicts believe that there is a higher power that can assist them in their recovery.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Surrender: Recognize that you cannot change your self-destructive decisions on your own; with the help of your higher power, you can.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Soul searching: The person in recovery must identify their issues and understand how their actions affected themselves and others.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Integrity: Step 5 offers a lot of room for improvement. In front of their higher power and another person, the person in recovery must admit their mistakes.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Acceptance: Step 6 is all about accepting character flaws for what they are and being completely willing to let them go.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Humility: Step 7’s spiritual focus is humility, or asking a higher power to do something that cannot be accomplished through self-will or determination alone.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Willingness: Making a list of those you harmed before entering recovery is part of this step.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Forgiveness: Making amends may seem difficult, but it can be a great way to start healing your relationships with those serious about recovery.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Maintenance: Nobody likes to admit they’ve made a mistake. It is, however, a necessary step in maintaining spiritual progress in recovery.
- 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.
Getting in Touch: The goal of Step 11 is to figure out what your higher power’s plan for your life is.
- 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.
Service: The person in recovery must spread the message and put the program’s principles into practice in all aspects of their lives.
Benefits of the 12-Step Program
12-step recovery programs, such as AA, have been around for a long time and have helped many people overcome their addictions. On the other hand, there have been many addiction recovery advancements since the AA organization’s founding.
Many evidence-based treatments are available to help people get and stay sober. Examples are motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications such as antidepressants, methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and disulfiram. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing are two other treatments.
Is there any advantage to participating in a 12-step program in this day and age when so many new evidence-based treatments are becoming more widely available every year? There are, for a large number of people, and they are as follows:
Providing a Community for Sober People
Attending 12-step meetings provides a ready-made sober community, possibly the most beneficial benefit. Having a strong sober network is one of the best predictors of a successful recovery. Still, it is also one of the most difficult challenges that people face when they first begin their recovery from substance abuse.
Because most of their former friends continue to use drugs and alcohol, it can be difficult for them to make new friends. Attending 12-step meetings puts you in social contact with people who share your commitment to sobriety and are often willing to help you when you feel overwhelmed or tempted to use.
Another advantage of 12-step meetings is that they can be found almost anywhere. Almost every city and town in the world has at least one 12-step meeting. This removes a significant justification for not participating and makes it extremely easy. The meeting location is likely to be within walking distance in many cities, making it simple to fit the event into your schedule.
Assist in Remaining Committed to the Recovery Process
Attending meetings regularly is a good way to stay committed to recovery. Similarly to how people go to church every week to be reminded of their ideals and beliefs and to interact with their fellow congregants, attending a 12-step meeting consistently will remind you of the many valuable life lessons you’ve acquired through the recovery process and why it’s so important to work hard to stay sober.
It is counterproductive to have excessive free time during the early stages of recovery. When people are bored or alone, giving in to their cravings is common. Going to the same place at the same time every day and talking to people who believe in you and support your recovery can help you feel more grounded.
Provide an Opportunity to Assist Others
Meetings for 12-step programs also offer the opportunity to assist others. Volunteering can improve an individual’s sense of self-worth and gratitude, even in a small capacity. It enables you to step outside of your head, forget about the problems you’re facing, and focus instead on helping others.