There are a number of different approaches to addiction recovery. One of the most well-known being the 12-step programme, which has been used by many who struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for almost a century.
There are also a number of variations on the 12-step addiction recovery programme, but the original concept originated from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Here, you can find out more about what this entails and how it can help you or a loved one battling with alcohol addiction.
What is a 12-step Addiction Recovery Programme?
While the original twelve-step programme originated from AA and was designed to help people with alcohol problems, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) also adapted the programme to help people with a drug addiction too. Following this, many other organisations and addiction support groups also have their own variations. While the exact details can vary between different programmes, the basic concept is the same.
According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the success of the approach depends on the fact that an alcoholic who no longer drinks, is uniquely placed to reach and help an alcoholic who is still drinking.1
In other words, the story and experience of an existing AA member is used to help a new arrival who is looking to address their own drinking problem. They are then invited to join the AA ‘fellowship’ and can pass on their own story to help others. This creates a sort of ‘virtuous chain’ with members of the fellowship extending a hand to others who come looking to change their lives.
The 12 steps involved described the experience of the earliest members of the Society. The same idea and support network structure can also be applied to other types of substance abuse and addiction. That being said, below we have explained what the traditional 12 steps are and what they entail.
The 12 Steps to Recovery Explained
The original twelve steps set down by Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
You may have heard the expression that the first step to recovery is admitting you have an addiction. The bottom line is that essentially, you must admit that you need help to begin the journey of treatment and long term recovery.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
This relates to the fact that while a struggling addict may be powerless over the substance, there is still a solution and recovery is possible.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
This third step is commitment to recovery and how you must make a decision and commit to recovery.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Taking an honest, sometimes uncomfortable look at your behaviour is a key part of the 12 step, it is what is going to make you truly realise what you’re doing to your body and the people around you.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This is when you begin to find what you have found ‘within’ through the aforementioned ‘moral inventory’ performed. This would typically be done through group therapy or meetings.
6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
This means getting ready and the willingness to change.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Humility is also an important part of the 12-step programme and something that will be focused upon throughout.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Recognise the harm you may have done as a result of your addictive behaviours to your loved ones, family and friends.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Where the previous step was about reflection, this is the action – actually building bridges and making amends to those people you have harmed as a result of addictive behaviour.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
This relates to the process going forward like relapse prevention, and recognition that recovery is an ongoing process and there may still be work to do for days, months, or years ahead.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
This is a spiritual step, with many modern versions using ‘a higher power’ rather than ‘God’.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practise these principles in all our affairs.
‘Pay it forward’ by helping others – both in your general life and in the context of helping fellow addicts who approach the fellowship for help with their addiction.
It’s worth noting that many modern versions of the 12-step programme replace references to ‘God’ with ‘a higher power’, making them more accessible to people of other faiths and secular viewpoints.
Benefits of a 12-step Addiction Recovery Programme
There are a number of benefits from attending a 12-step programme. It gives the person in recovery a structure, with steps and progression to follow. The steps themselves encourage a certain amount of self-reflection, helping you to explore the motivations for your substance misuse and the root causes of your addiction.
It offers a fellowship and gives you the chance to do good – both in making amends to those you have wronged while drinking or using drugs and presenting the chance to ‘pay it forward’ and help others who join the programme.
Many people find a new sense of accountability they can take into other areas of their life, develop a strong support network and may make lifelong friends.
Is a 12-step Addiction Recovery Programme Right for You?
While many people do find 12-step addiction recovery programmes valuable, it is not necessarily the best option for everyone. In particular, some people struggle with the fact that the programme has its basis in religion, with a heavy reliance on asking God for help.
This can be worked around though, which is why there are many variations to the traditional 12 step programme to recovery.
Additionally, while some 12-step programmes are available at rehabs and other professional recovery environments, the meetings at fellowships such as AA and NA tend to be formed largely of people with no professional training. So it is something to consider when deciding which path to recovery is for you.
Get in Touch for Addiction Treatment
If you are ready to seek help in overcoming addiction, there are a number of options open to you.
Whether you want to go ahead and choose the 12-step route or explore other options, Action Rehab can help. Residential rehab has been shown to be very effective in treating addiction and uses a variety of evidence-based techniques.
We work with a wide range of accredited, high quality rehabilitation centres and are experts in finding a rehab programme that is the perfect match for your own individual requirements.
Call our expert team now on 0151 268 6992 or get in touch online for free and confidential advice.
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