The 12-Step approach to addiction recovery is probably the best-known today; it has been established for almost a century. There are now 12-Step rehab centers around the world and many people believe it to be the most effective approach for long-term recovery. However, there are also plenty of people who feel 12-Step treatment centers have no place in modern day society because many of the attitudes held are considered to be outdated.
When individuals are researching inpatient drug rehab centers for substance use disorder, it is important that they are armed with as much information as possible before making the selection. In this article, we seek to put 12-Step in the context of modern-day addiction and illustrate that it is a program that has broad appeal to people from all spiritual backgrounds
What Is Addiction?
These days it is a well-established fact that addiction is a relapsing illness which can be effectively treated. This differs significantly from the original concept of 12-Step which deemed addiction to be a character flaw that could only be corrected through supplication and prayer. This rather harsh approach to addiction gives the impression that 12-Step treatment centers have an intimidating and judgmental atmosphere. This is quite opposite from the truth and one of the stand-out reasons behind 12-Steps’ success is that members report feeling truly supported in their fight to overcome addiction.
It is largely the definition of addiction that separates 12-Step from the 21st Century approach. 12-Step places emphasis on the belief of a “higher being” that is capable of removing addiction from the individual, which requires a strong faith. There are many types of people in today’s society with wide-ranging beliefs and attitudes and so 12-Step has introduced a lot of spiritual flexibility into their program in recent years. These days, the “higher being” is no longer defined by a particular faith but can be an entity of the individual’s choosing.
Support in Recovery Still Relevant in Modern Times
The 12-Step recovery program was founded in the mid-1930s by two men who leaned on each other for support and motivation to overcome their own alcoholism. The experience led to them writing down the steps they took to overcome alcoholism into the eponymous book which continues to be in print to this day. The fundamental essence of 12-Step is support between likeminded people who are committed to sobriety which works as a form of counseling and psychotherapy. For spiritually-minded people who are seeking help with alcohol or drug abuse, 12-Step treatment centers provide a recovery path that resonates with their personal beliefs.
Ultimately, 12-Step is a tried and tested approach to recovery support which is largely due to the way group meetings are structured. 12-Step members are required to actively participate in group meetings, with a therapist encouraging engagement from everyone attending. Each member is also assigned a sponsor to act as a mentor as they work their way through the 12-Steps. In both the group meetings and individual sessions with a sponsor, important relationships are made that continue to support members in sobriety for years.
Is Twelve-Step Recovery An Antiquated Concept Or Intervention?
The objective of 12-Step is to address the psychology of an addicted individual as well as their spirituality which includes:
- Personal values and principals
- A sense of connectedness to others
- A willingness to engage with others
- A need to ask a higher being for help
12-Step is designed for individuals who believe they are not able to overcome addiction without the intervention of a higher being. 12-Step still has a very strong message that self-reliance and the belief that a person can help themselves are roadblocks to recovery, which either resonates with someone or doesn’t. Although 12-Step is very much about the support of other members in the group and sponsors, there is still an emphasis on individuals placing their recovery in the hands of a higher being.
A term often used to describe NA and AA groups is “self-help” although it is really a misnomer because the 12-Step approach doesn’t embrace the idea that a person can help themselves. The program is however extremely valuable in providing an environment where individuals can listen to and accept guidance from a peer or mentor which they can apply to their daily lives. Although 12-Step is not strictly a self-help program, it does provide people with sufficient support and motivation to allow them to make significant personal changes to maintain sobriety.
Accountability Is an Important Aspect of Addiction Recovery
In all forms of addiction treatment and support, it is considered important to encourage patients to be accountable for their addictive behavior. This does not mean they are to be castigated for the hurt they’ve caused in the past but that they should at least acknowledge their negative actions and attempt to make amends. In non-12 Step recovery programs healing relationships that have been damaged by addiction is also considered a crucial part of rehab and recovery although the therapeutic approach may vary.
As part of a person’s journey through detox and rehab into recovery, it is important that they recognize the negative thoughts driving damaging addictive behaviors. 12-Step does this by getting members to compile an inventory of past behaviors and how they have negatively impacted themselves and others; whereas non-12 step drug rehab centers use evidence-based behavioral therapies to achieve the same objective.
Recovery from addiction is an intensely personal journey and it is crucial that patients are aligned with the principals of their treatment in order for it to be effective. For some people, this means the 12-Step approach is the more appropriate choice for them, particularly if they have a strong spiritual bias. However, for those for whom 12-Step doesn’t resonate there are plenty of effective alternatives available.