The 12-step program has become quite popular these days among people with some addiction problems, and although originally it was created by Alcoholics Anonymous for people with alcohol abuse as a progressive illness, the 12-step program that we now know is used more widely within different substance abuse recovery groups, Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous for people with illicit drug use problems, and others.
So if you are interested in finding out more about the 12-step programs and how they could be implemented in your own treatment programs, then you might want to continue reading this article!
12-Step Program Organization
As you could have guessed, the 12-step program contains in itself 12 different spiritual principles and guidelines that should be used by various support groups to help its members overcome their problems.
So here are these 12 steps created by Alcoholics Anonymous for its AA members to be used:
- Admit your weakness for alcohol;
- Find a Power greater than yourself, and believe that a Power like that could restore us to sanity;
- Turn your will over to God so that he can restore us and take care of all these defects that we have;
- Make a personal inventory of yourself, find the root of your problems, and admit it to yourself;
- Admit to God and other people the exact nature of your sins;
- Allow God to remove all these defects that you have right now, and that interfere with your day-to-day life in a negative way;
- Do not be afraid to ask for God’s help while you are going through this searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself;
- Right down a list of all the people that you have hurt before;
- Apologize before anyone that you have hurt unless these direct amends and your presence in the lives of these people would hurt them even more;
- Never stop your personal recovery process. Be ready to apologize whenever you understand that you are in the wrong, as it is the spiritual foundation of your recovery;
- Use prayers and meditation as a way to improve your conscious contact with God in whatever form that you imagine Him;
- Once you are ready, transfer all of your knowledge and experience to other people with substance abuse problems and, of course, continue to practice the principles of 12-step programs throughout your life, as your personal recovery depends on them.
12-step Programs and Their Principles
Aside from the 12 guidelines described above, twelve-step programs also include 12 traditions that are connected with the organization of Alcoholics Anonymous groups in general and not with the process through which every one of their participants is going through.
And here are these 12 traditions:
- You do not need more than a sincere desire to stop drinking in order to get an AA membership and attend meetings of your group;
- The primary purpose of any AA group is to transfer the principles of 12-step treatment programs to those who have a substance use problem;
- The whole group’s conscience and welfare are more important than that of any individual separately, as the group purpose of recovering from an illness depends on the AA unity;
- The one ultimate authority of all AA groups is God himself, in whatever form we imagine Him. And thus, the leaders of any AA group are simply His servants;
- Each Alcoholics Anonymous should be created independently from all others;
- AA groups should always remain non-financial organizations so that no one would get distracted from the main purpose of AA groups, which is to help those with substance abuse problems in their spiritual growth;
- Aside from being no-financial, AA groups should also remain self-support groups, meaning that any type of help from others should be denied;
- AA groups are nonprofessional, which is why their leaders should not be related to medicine or psychology. The only possible exception is to employ special workers from substance abuse treatment service centers;
- Aside from AA groups being fully self-supporting, they should also remain non-organized groups, but they could create service boards or committees directly responsible for the help to be received by those they serve;
- Alcoholics Anonymous should not have an opinion on any outside matter so that the name of the groups and their treatment programs would not be used in public confrontations. AA leaders should remember that the participants of their groups have a right to maintain personal anonymity;
- Public relations could be used only with the aim of attracting those in need and not for promoting the service centers and their functions;
- The helping hand of others is not the only requirement of AA groups; anonymity is the second one. This principle reminds us that collectively-accepted rules should be more important than every individual’s desires, especially when it comes to group collaboration.
12 Step Programs’ Interpretations
As you can see, the firstly created version of the 12-step program is based on the spiritual awakening principles, but time has helped the program to develop and become less dependent on God if that is what you want.
For some of you who are not as much of believers in God, it would be good to know that such spiritual focus is actually not the main characteristic that helps people to recover. Your own recovery depends more on your own interpretation of the 12 steps and on the social support of people who help you in that process. Acceptance of some higher power greater than us does not necessarily mean that God is that power; it could also be our AA or any other group that could help us with all our affairs and troubles.
There are many different 12-step programs these days, which is why you will have no trouble finding the ones in your local community that suits your need the most, no matter whether it will be related to belief in God or not.
Twelve Steps Advantages
As we already know, one of the main principles of 12-step programs is anonymity, which is why it is quite impossible to gather data on its effectiveness. But what we do know is that 74% of USA treatment centers are using 12 step programs as one of the treatment possibilities for its visitors. What is more, the participants of this problem were found to be alcohol abstinent for longer periods of time.
And as some of the insurance policies can cover your costs of going through a 12-step program, it would be understandable why 12 steps have become so popular in the last years.
Thus, knowing that 12 steps programs are popular and widely accepted throughout the world, we can say for sure that this type of treatment is effective; we just do not know for whom. You can compare 12-step programs to therapy types: you can never know for sure whether a particular method is working for you unless you try it out, but you still know that all of them could be effective.
Alternative Treatment Programs
It might be the case that 12-step programs are not effective in your case, which is why considering alternatives is very important.
So here is a list of some other types of drug addiction treatments that might be helpful:
Such programs take place in rehabilitation centers with professional health care providers, which is why they are considered to be one of the most effective ones. Residential programs help you to create an environment where no substance use is allowed, which is why your recovery might be faster compared to other rehabilitation methods.
The only disadvantage is that such programs are usually not that cheap, which is why you might need to consider other options. But if you do not mind participating in government-based rehab programs, then you might cover the expenditures with your insurance.
Outpatient Rehabilitation Programs
These programs are quite similar to residential ones, but they allow you to continue living your life and bearing your responsibilities, as you will not have to stay at the center all day, just in the mornings and nights.
However, because of such a format, you might have to spend a bigger period of time in your rehabilitation center and work on your physical and mental health a bit more.
Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ
What is the basic concept of a 12-Step program?
The main concept of the 12 steps is that people can help one another in their journey of overcoming drug abuse or any other problems. And although initially, God was the central character of self-help groups, His presence is not necessary these days.
Where are the 12 steps in the AA Big Book?
The 12 steps can be found in the very beginning of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous,” in the chapter called “How it works.” But you could also read about them in the article above and decide whether or not they would be helpful to you.
Is there an AA 12-step workbook?
Yes, there is a workbook available for 12 steps followers, and you can download it for free. Such workbooks are usually very helpful for new members, and the things that you write down in such a workbook could be discussed together with other AA members.