Twelve-step programs provide a safe, secure and supportive environment where people can talk about their substance use problems with people in similar situations. During these meetings, knowledge is imparted, friendships are forged and sobriety can be preserved. Twelve-step groups often reference a higher power, but these programs are not just for religious people. In fact, two large multisite studies found that nonreligious participants who commit to 12-step programs seem to benefit from these groups as much as religious individuals do. While 12-step recovery programs can be helpful, they are not always the best choice for everyone. They are an affordable, available, and convenient resource while people are recovering from substance use, but their emphasis on admitting powerlessness and leaning on a higher power can be a problem for some individuals.

Do You Need to Believe in God to Attend a 12 Step Meeting?

12 step program

If you are stepping down from formal treatment, it may be helpful to speak with your treatment team (doctors, therapists, etc.) about what types of mutual support groups may be most useful. The following sections discuss factors to consider when choosing a 12-Step program. Twelve-Step programs are often incorporated into rehab treatment settings. In fact, 65% of facilities use 12-Step facilitation as one of their therapy offerings.1 Some facilities may also offer 12-Step mutual support groups. Believing in this higher power may help someone find meaning in their life outside of addiction.

What are The 12-Steps of AA?

For example, AA Agnostica, a secular self-help organization for agnostics and atheists with drinking problems, offers alternative steps that omit references to a higher power. This article will describe the foundation of the steps, what each of the 12 steps of recovery means, what to expect when doing the steps, and how to help a person recovering from an addiction. People interested in partaking should speak with a relevant organization or healthcare professional about ways in which to treat and manage their substance and alcohol use disorders. There is limited research into its effectiveness, but one drawback is that it relies on people effectively surrendering themselves to a higher power. People who are not religious or spiritual may struggle with this concept.

How effective is it?

For generations, 12-step programs have been the gold standard of addiction recovery therapy. Countless millions of people have gone through one or more Twelve Step programs to learn how to conquer their addictions and move on with their lives. The Twelve Steps are a set of guiding principles as outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous, first published in 1939 and familiarly known as the Big Book. The Steps set forth a course of action for recovery from addiction and, more broadly, a new way of thinking and living. As a part of Twelve Step recovery, participants make a list of all persons they have harmed and, if it won’t cause further harm, attempt to make amends. Taking an ongoing personal inventory and honestly acknowledging ways you have hurt yourself, your relationships and others is also a core Twelve Step recovery practice.

The 12-step program aims to help people attain abstinence from substance use disorders or make a behavioral change through peer support. This intervention provides a supportive social network and fosters bonding among group members, which adds to the benefits. Members often run the groups without the involvement of healthcare professionals. Just as the 12 steps outline the path to recovery for individuals struggling with addiction, there are also 12 Traditions that are the spiritual principles behind the 12 steps. These traditions help guide how 12 step recovery programs operate. The traditions focus on the importance of unity, effective leadership, and independence.

12 step program

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The History of the 12-Steps of AA

Such programs can also be helpful for long-term support and care. At the very least, the 12-Step model provides support, encouragement and accountability for people who genuinely want to overcome their addiction. The sponsorship model as well as regular meeting times encourage the kind of social support that has helped countless people stay clean. The 12 Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous to establish guidelines to overcome an addiction to alcohol. The program gained enough success in its early years for other addiction support groups to adapt the steps to their specific substance or addictive behavior. Many programs have internet-based “chat” rooms and online meetings that supplement but don’t replace in-person meetings.

All meetings are confidential, and members are discouraged from speaking about another person’s story with anyone outside of the group. A 2015 NA survey also found that 79 percent of U.S. members regularly used alcohol, the most widely used substance. The next most frequently used drugs were cannabis, cocaine, stimulants, opiates, opioids and crack. Researchers estimate that as many as 10 percent of people in the United States have attended an AA meeting.

To some 12 Step programs, seem easy because they have a clear path to recovery. There is no clear path to recovery, recovery is hard work but there are things that you can do to make it a bit easier on yourself during your 12 Step recovery. Family members of recovering persons develop coping mechanisms to react to difficult situations. They can also help them break the enabling cycle and learn how not to rescue or cover up for a loved one’s addiction.

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