The 12 Step recovery model for substance abuse is possibly the best-known support group in the world. The aim of 12 Step is to help people understand the triggers that make them want to turn to drugs or alcohol so that they can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. The majority of 12 Step treatment centers place emphasis on rebuilding close personal relationships by acknowledging and apologizing for past mistakes. Given the extent to which 12 Step rehab programs dominate the international addiction landscape, its effectiveness for an immeasurable number of people is undeniable.
However, there are still people who don’t fully understand the value of traditional 12 Step in treating modern-day addiction. This is primarily because 12 Step is a faith-based recovery support group that was founded with Christian principles, requiring belief in a “Higher Power”. Despite this misunderstanding, the 12 Step recovery approach has embraced changing times, now offering a sense of belonging in its community for people outside of Christianity. Participants can identify their own version of a power greater than themselves and embark on a much more flexible spiritual journey to recovery with 12 Step today.
History of the Twelve-Step Program
The 12 Step approach to addiction recovery was founded in 1939 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Initially, groups were focused on individuals seeking to overcome alcoholism, with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups using a system of 12 Steps devised by the founders. In the following years, the principles of 12 Step recovery programs have been applied to other forms of addiction including substance abuse with the introduction of Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
The huge benefit of 12 Steps at the time it was introduced – and indeed since – is that it is a free recovery program. The only requirement for attendance is making a commitment to sobriety, which means ceasing to use drugs or alcohol completely. Even people without any religious affiliation can find the 12 Step recovery model extremely beneficial in introducing them to a solid support network to ensure a longer recovery from addiction.
The 12-Steps of AA and NA
Aside from the spiritual aspects of 12 Step rehab programs, people from all denominations – or with none at all – can find support and guidance on their road to recovery. This is mainly because 12 Step rehab programs have a strong focus on clarity, transparency, self-awareness, and forgiveness. These are factors that also feature in other types of alcohol or drug rehab and recovery programs, albeit without any spiritual bias.
The original twelve steps from AA are as follows:
- Acknowledgment of a substance abuse problem.
- Belief in a higher power, such as nature, God or another being or deity.
- A decision to submit to the higher power of choice and work toward sobriety.
- Taking a moral inventory
- Admitting to and taking ownership of the items on their moral inventory.
- Being prepared to remove defects of character driving addiction.
- Asking the higher power to remove the defects of character driving addictive behaviors.
- Taking an inventory of the people wronged as a consequence of substance abuse and preparing to make amends.
- Making amends with individuals on the list unless it is detrimental to them to do so.
- Taking a second moral inventory and admitting openly to individual faults.
- Seeking spiritual enlightenment to help them maintain sobriety.
- Embrace society, seeking out and helping others with addiction issues.
Why Are 12 Step Rehab Centers So Successful?
Due to a lack of research accurately assessing the success rate of 12 Step programs, the fact there is widespread access to NA and AA groups is a testament to its effectiveness. Much of 12 Step’s success is due to its non-judgmental setting, which allows people to find healing without interference from any societal misconceptions surrounding addiction.
There are hundreds and thousands of people around the world who have found sobriety through a 12 Step recovery program, each mandated to spread the word to others. It is not uncommon for participants to become sponsors or more actively involved in the addiction community as a positive influence for others in the early stages in a 12 Step treatment center.
Perhaps the most resounding reason for 12 Steps undeniable effectiveness is that it welcomes people into a community that will always be there to support them in sobriety. Research has shown that there is a clear link between long-term recovery and feeling supported on a daily basis, which is one of the basic principles of 12 Step rehab centers.