Key Information About Twelve-Step Programs
The journey to recovery from a drug abuse or alcohol addiction is typically lifelong. Fortunately, the 12-step plan recognizes this to be accurate and provides you with the tools to live a life that is free from the pain and suffering caused by substance use disorder or addiction. This type of program can also be helpful for the friends, family members, and loved ones of those who have been ravaged by a dependence on drugs, alcohol abuse, or other addictive behavior.
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The 12-Step Program Has Been Around Since 1935
This program was first created in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. With a purpose to create a standardized addiction recovery plan that could be used by groups and self-help organizations throughout the country. The idea was to make it easier for support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and auxiliary such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon to have a common goal to work toward, various offshoots now exist, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous(GA), and Cocaine Anonymous(CA). In 1946, the 12 Principles were added as a corollary to this program to further unite those who were seeking to live a life free from addiction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) has identified a number of alternative groups and 12-step meetings. The only requirement for membership in 12-Step groups is a desire to stop drinking and/or using drugs.
What Are the 12 Steps?
As initially written, the first of the Twelve steps requires a person to acknowledge that his or her life is unmanageable because of drug addiction, alcoholism, and any other vices. After acknowledging this as the case, the program asserts that the only way an addict can achieve sobriety is to believe in a higher power. Believing in a higher power makes it possible for that person or entity to remove defects in an addict’s character that has led to a dependency on drugs or alcohol.
After turning your life over to a power greater than yourself, you are then asked to mediate, pray or otherwise communicate with this force regularly. The goal is to take an honest inventory of your faults and what you can do to overcome them. In addition, you will be asked to continuously take stock of your character flaws to avoid taking actions that will hurt yourself and others.
Understanding your faults will also put you in a better position to apologize to those you hurt in the past. These individuals may include colleagues, family members, or close friends who you stole money from or were physically abusive. Ideally, you will make amends in person if at all possible. However, you can do so electronically or by other means if this is the only way to complete this step without compromising your physical or mental health.
Finally, you will take the knowledge you have gained from your journey and use it to help others. You can fulfill this obligation by speaking at weekly AA groups or sharing your private story to others who may not be ready to seek help. The goal is to act as a missionary spreading the good news about living life free of addiction.
The 12-Step Program Has Adapted With the Times
When it was first conceived, this program made multiple specific references to God as the higher power to which people should turn their lives. Understandably, this turned some people off as they didn’t necessarily believe in God or didn’t necessarily believe in such an entity in the way that it was traditionally presented.
The good news is that the language accompanying each step has been modified to appeal to a more secular audience. Most notably, instead of turning your life over to God, you can turn your life over to any power other than yourself. This power could be a trusted friend, a medical professional, healthcare and behavioral health professionals or anything else you believe can help you obtain and maintain a sober lifestyle.
If you believe in God, the program still makes allowances for the fact that there are many different ways to do so. Typically, references to God are now accompanied by the words as you understand Him. This type of phrasing may also be more palatable to those who are agnostic in their beliefs. Agnostics are people who aren’t sure if God exists but are open to the idea of this being true.
You’ll Likely Encounter These Principles Wherever You Get Help
It’s important to note that the 12-steps of recovery is just one roadmap for the journey from an addict to a sober member of society. Therefore, you can certainly overcome your addiction without adhering to every step or without adhering to every step as it is written.
However, it’s also worth noting that the principles espoused by this program are principles that most groups will use. This is because they are generally the cornerstones of success at almost anything you’ll do in life.
For example, it’s extremely difficult to overcome an addiction unless you’re willing to admit that you have a problem and need help. Going to rehab simply to keep your job, prevent your spouse from leaving or avoid jail time is generally a recipe for failure.
Getting sober also means that you’ll have to take responsibility for your past actions. It may take months, years, or decades to truly make amends to those you hurt and get back in their good graces. This is partial because an addict never truly recovers. Even if you are several years sober, you could relapse without warning, which could cause people in your life to once again question your sincerity as it relates to getting better.
Therefore, you will need to be proactive in ensuring that you recognize your triggers and take steps to avoid them. For instance, it may be necessary to avoid friends who use alcohol or avoid parts of town where you know drugs are widely available.
12-Step Programs Can Be Used as a Part of Your Overall Treatment Regiment
One of the primary benefits of the 12-step program is that you can get started while still enrolled in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. Research has shown that embracing the concepts of this program can have a positive effect as it relates to changing how you think of yourself and the world in general.
Instead of admitting powerlessness over the addiction, the program teaches you that your addiction is no different than any other medical condition a person might have. By gaining a better understanding of what you are up against, your odds of achieving sobriety tend to go up, and this is true whether you follow the plan verbatim or if you adjust them to fit your needs.
Although this program is designed for alcoholics, it is often used by people addicted to painkillers, heroin, or anything else that might contain opioids. If you are addicted to opioids, you may have to take substances such as methadone or suboxone to help keep your cravings to a minimum. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to take these substances for the rest of your life.
Therefore, merely talking to other people about your experiences may not be enough to help keep you sober. Fortunately, the 12-step program is designed to meet your needs and be of value to you even if you can’t overcome a drug problem without additional assistance.
If you are ready to overcome your addiction to drugs or alcohol, give the folks at Allure Detox a call today. A variety of programs are available that are tailored to meet your needs and maximize your chances of success. It’s possible that your insurance policy will cover some or all of the cost of the addiction treatment. During an initial consultation, you can learn about payment options and other plan details.
How do I find 12-step programs near me?
There are several ways to find a 12-step program near you:
- Online Search: Search the internet using terms like “12-step programs near me,” “AA meetings near me,” “NA meetings near me,” or whatever specific 12-step program you’re interested in. You can also add your location to these search terms for more specific results.
- AA and NA Websites: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have websites with tools to help you locate meetings near you. Simply enter your location, and the sites will provide you with a list of meetings, their locations, and times.
- Other 12-Step Program Websites: If you’re looking for a different 12-step program (like Al-Anon for families of alcoholics or Overeaters Anonymous), visit their respective websites. Most will have a search function to find local meetings.
- Local Hospitals and Mental Health Clinics: Local hospitals, mental health clinics, or addiction recovery centers often have information about local 12-step programs. They may host meetings or can direct you to local groups.
- Community Centers or Religious Institutions: Places like community centers, churches, or other religious institutions often host 12-step meetings and may have information about when and where those meetings take place.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline: SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
When you find a meeting you’re interested in, reach out to confirm the meeting time and place, as this information can change. If you’re new to 12-step programs, many groups offer special meetings for newcomers which can be a supportive first step.