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The Road to Recovery: The 12 steps to healing

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Addiction Recovery Strategies

You May have heard a suggestion to do a 12 step program

This may sound familiar with Alcohol Anonymous; however, it has been effective in other substance abuse as well. Which 12-step program you attend will depend on what substance was abused. The 12-step program is successful at reducing your relapsing odds. Let the 12-step program help you acquire coping skills, feel supported and accepted by a loving community, transition into sobriety, and nurture continuing recovery from addiction. The 12-step program is not for everyone, although it could be for you. 

What is a 12-step program?

A 12-step program is a support group that helps people struggling with addiction recover from abuse, behavioral addictions, and sometimes mental health. The 12- step program is aimed at ensuring you succeed and retain self-restraint from substances. The purpose of the 12-step program is that people to help one another stay on the path of recovery and sobriety. Corresponding to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in its National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services from 2013, 12-Step simulations are utilized, at best intermittently, by roughly 74 percent of treatment centers.

What are the 12 steps? 

These 12 steps can be found in the Big Book offered by AA. 

  1. Admitting you have no control over the addiction. Start believing a higher power can help. This higher power does not refer to anything religious.
  2. Once you have decided on your higher power you turn control to it. 
  3. Start taking personal accounting. 
  4. Admit to oneself and others the wrong things that have happened. 
  5. Accept the help from the higher power in assessing any weaknesses in one’s character. 
  6. Asking the higher power to remove those weaknesses.
  7. Making a list of the wrongs done to others and ready to make amends for those wrongs. 
  8. Contact those who have been hurt, unless doing so would cause harm to the person. 
  9. Admit when you are wrong and continue to take accounting. 
  10. Connect with the higher power through prayer or meditation. 
  11. Carry on the message of the 12 steps to others in need. 


Where did the 12-steps program originate from? 

The 12-step model was first used by Alcohol Anonymous in 1938 when founder Bill Wilson wrote out ideas he had been developing through his experience and vision with alcoholism. Some of his writings included the positive effects experienced when people struggling with alcoholism shared their stories with each other. The program written by Wilson has become known as the Big Book. Some inspiration came from a six-step program embraced by an organization called the Oxford Group. The 12-steps first came from a spiritual, Christian encouragement that sought assistance from greater power and from those who are hurting from the same addiction struggles. The Big Book was written for those who could not attend AA meetings and became the model for the 12-step program. The Big Book has since then been a model for many different addiction peer-support and self-help programs to assist in making behavioral changes. Expanding off AA there is now a variety of support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Heroin Anonymous (HA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

How long does a 12-step program take?

There is no set frame for which a 12-step program will work. The length of it takes depends on the individual. Newcomers to the 12-step program are encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days or at least one meeting a day for three months. The emphasis in the 12-step program is not how long it will take to complete; it matters how thoroughly you are doing your step work and how you are using the steps to positively impact your everyday life.  

Is the 12-step program efficient? 

Rather than discussing the efficacy of 12-step programs, it’s crucial to think that efficacy is virtual, suggesting that exactly how effective something is, depends on your goals. If your goal is to remain clean from the substance and stop the abuse then, 12-step programs are remarkably encouraging modalities. The phrase “it works if you work it” means if you invest yourself completely in the program and complete the 12-steps then the program will be successful.  

How do I know I need a 12-Step Program?

A 12-step program may be good for you if you suffer from substance abuse of any type. You can discuss if a 12- step program is right for you with your therapist, doctor, or other medical professionals. If none of those is an option attend a free 12- step meeting and see if it is something that could be right for you. Do not give up after just one meeting, every meeting is different, and some have the potential to fit your personality and goals.

The Road to Recovery

A residential treatment program customized to individual needs is still the best way to approach recovery. This program could include 12-step aspects or be based on a 12-step concept. No matter what, it is important that the individual is helped based on their needs alone. Talking and working with an addiction treatment professional to find the best treatment for you is the best beginning to recovery.        

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