Originating from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the 12-step program was designed in 1935 to help people overcome addiction using spirituality and the power of group therapy. Almost one hundred years later, the program continues to play an important part in many recovery programs.
What Is the 12-Step Program?
Founded by Bill. W and Dr. Bob, the 12-step program essentially acts as a blueprint to sobriety, placing a strong focus on spirituality and recovery through God. Since its conception, many clinics and support groups have provided alternate programs with a more secular approach, making them more accessible to the general public.
Designed to treat a wide range of addictions such as gambling, sex, alcohol, and drugs, the 12-steps of AA support those in recovery in transforming their daily habits and addictive behaviors. Those embarking on a 12-step program are encouraged to replace these behaviors with healthy changes and thought patterns.
The idea of the 12-step program is hinged on group therapy and bouncing ideas and inspiration off of one another. This means the format is primarily group-based and very social. Should you join a 12-step program, you will be encouraged to open up and share your journey with others. This will ensure that you are held accountable for your actions and choices.
Why Is the 12-Step Program Effective?
As noted above, the 12-step program for addiction is hinged on group therapy. While opening up isn’t always easy, doing so will show you that you’re not alone. Instead, you’ll discover that you are surrounded by other like-minded people – all on their own journey to sobriety.
The program is also a great way of developing new and healthy friendships with people who understand the struggles you may encounter. It will also help you stay away from triggers that could cause you to relapse. A recent Science Direct study proves the importance of the 12-steps, indicating a link between reduced use of alcohol, drugs, and the program.
Furthermore, joining a 12-step program will encourage you to accept your past and addictive behaviors. Self-acceptance is a key part of recovery, giving you the space to open up, own your mistakes, and overcome feelings such as shame.
After all, letting go of all those mistakes is just as important as accepting them, and the spirituality element of the program is a great way of releasing those feelings. Once you can let go, you will be able to focus on moving forward and a fresh, new start.
Family members can also attend sessions, giving them a deeper understanding of addiction and learning how to support their loved ones through sobriety.
Breaking Down the 12-Step Program
Since its conception, the 12-step program has undergone slight changes over the years. However, the basic foundation remains the same and focuses on group support, therapy, and belief in a higher power. Most recovery programs provide the original program, which incorporate spirituality, while secular alternatives are available for those who aren’t religious.
When it comes to enrolling in a 12-step program, it’s not uncommon to have questions and concerns. For this very reason, we’ve delved into the original steps below.
1. Honesty and Acceptance
Admit that you have an addiction and that it’s caused your life to become unmanageable.
2. Faith in a Higher Power
Before making the first steps to recovery, you must come to believe that there is a higher power out there that can help you on your journey. You can’t do it alone.
3. Surrender to God
Make an active decision to turn to God, asking him for support and help.
4. Moral Inventory
Take a good look at yourself and make an inventory of all the wrongs you’ve done, both to yourself and others.
5. Admit Your Wrongs
The only way you’ll be able to let go of the past is by owning up to it. Admit your mistakes and be ready to let them go with the help of God.
Accept your shortcomings and be ready to get rid of them with the help of God.
Turn to God and ask him to forgive you for your shortcomings.
Draw up a list of all the people you’ve hurt with your addiction and be ready to face them.
9. Seeking Forgiveness
Using your list, confront those you’ve harmed and ask for forgiveness.
Continue taking a moral inventory of yourself and remove triggers from your everyday life.
11. Building a Relationship With God
Continue to develop a relationship with God, turning to him for continued support and so that he can reveal
the plan that he has for your life.
12. Spread the Word To Help Others
Now that you’ve been through the journey and put the 12 steps into action, it’s your duty to spread the word and help others do the same.
Addiction is treatable, but it takes time and effort to achieve. Armed with the right resources, tools, and support, you’ll be able to overcome addiction and begin taking steps to build a sober life.
A wide range of alcohol and drug rehab clinics and support groups follow the 12-step program, so you’re bound to find something wherever you are.