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12 Step Treatment Programs

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12 Step Treatment Programs

12 Step Treatment Programs: Working Towards Recovery One Step At A Time

12 step treatment programs are a set of guiding principles that outline a specific course of action for overcoming addiction to drugs or alcohol. The original 12 step programs were proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939 as a way to help people recover from alcoholism. Since that time, the steps have been adapted to form the foundation for other types of twelve-step programs. 

How Do 12 Step Treatment Programs Aid in Addiction Treatment?

For many people, the faith-based treatment model of 12 step treatment programs plays a positive role in recovery from addiction. Throughout the process of following the steps, people in recovery are intended to learn of ways to replace self-centered behaviors by developing a moral conscience, and learning to take unselfish constructive action to overcome addictive behaviors. Within the twelve-step groups, such moral development is considered a spiritual awakening.

A person who is new to group meetings will often be guided and supported by a more experienced person in recovery, known as a sponsor. The sponsor shares their recovery experiences with the new member, or sponsee, along with providing support whenever the sponsee feels particularly vulnerable to cravings or on the brink of relapse. New members are encouraged to build a level of rapport with at least one sponsor.

What are the Objectives?

12 step treatment programs strive to achieve three legacies:

  • Recovery
  • Unity
  • Service

In the time since the original steps were published by Alcoholics Anonymous, the guiding principles have been amended to be suitable to treat a range of other addictive behaviors. 

The 12 Steps

  1. Admitting that the problem has become uncontrollable. Once a person acknowledges that they are powerless to stop drinking alcohol or taking drugs on their own, they are ready to begin the recovery process
  2. Have faith that recovery can be achieved with help from a power greater than their own. It is completely up to each individual person to choose whichever higher power works best for them.
  3. Make a conscious decision to trust their recovery with whatever higher power they choose. 
  4. Undertake an honest self-examination of themselves to identify aspects of regret, embarrassment, guilt or anger from the past that may have led to uncontrolled substance abuse.
  5. Admit freely the precise nature of past bad behavior. This step is commonly undertaken with the person’s sponsor.
  6. Admit readiness to have the person’s chosen higher power. Remove or correct the wrongs listed during step 4.
  7. Seek to have any shortcomings or character defects removed by their chosen higher power. This step involves developing a moral conscience and learning to take unselfish constructive action to overcome addictive behaviors.
  8. Create a list of any people harmed as a result of their addictive behavior.
  9. Make amends with people listed during step 8, where possible. This action can include writing a letter or discussing the problem one-on-one with the affected person.
  10. Continue to monitor any negative or detrimental behaviors during the recovery process and learn to admit when they are wrong.
  11.  Spend time in meditation or prayer with the person’s chosen higher power in order to learn ways to replace self-centered behaviors and overcome addiction. 
  12. Continue to practice the 12 principles and seek to assist others in their own struggle to overcome addiction. During this step, many people in recovery become sponsors for newer members of the group.

Beyond the 12 Step Treatment Programs

People in recovery from addiction are encouraged to commit to attending 12-step treatment program meetings regularly, even after graduating rehab treatments. Long-term involvement in group meetings can improve the success rate of recovery for many people for a variety of reasons. Group meetings help recovering addicts to develop new social networks of like minded peers, which reduces feelings of isolation and can boost motivation to continue living a sober life.

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