Strength in Numbers: How 12 Step Meetings Help You Build the Support Network You Need for Recovery
Addiction, in any form, breeds its own lifestyle complete with its own habits, routines and social network. In much the same way, someone wanting to live a drug-free life must develop the types of habits, routines and social network that supports continued abstinence.
For people in recovery, the importance of developing a healthy support network can mean the difference between ongoing abstinence and repeated relapse episodes. The 12 Step meeting support model embodies this vital component of recovery by providing a built-in support network along the way.
The 12 Step Meeting Approach
The aftereffects of addiction on a person’s thinking and emotions can leave him or her feeling depressed and socially isolated for months or even years after drug use ends. In the absence of a healthy support network, a return to drug use is all but inevitable.
According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, the 12 Step meeting approach works to address the recovering addict’s need for social support, understanding, encouragement and guidance.
12 step meetings provide a built-in support network of people who provide encouragement and guidance.
Not sure if your insurance will help cover your treatment costs? Call our helpline at 800-653-7143 for more information.
How 12 Step Meetings Help You Build a Support Network
Most all people have an innate need for human contact, especially contact with those who share the same goals and interests. Twelve Step meetings meet this need for connection during a time when recovering addicts most need to stay engaged in the recovery process.
Developing Coping Skills
Learning healthy ways to manage day-to-day life lies at the heart of the recovery process. According to the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors Journal, discussions had in 12 Step meetings provide valuable tools for adapting to drug-free living and managing urges to use.
More than anything else, always having someone to call when the urge to use is greatest makes maintaining sobriety “one day at a time” doable.
A strong support network can work wonders for a person’s confidence regardless of the task at hand. With 12 Step groups, having like-minded people to talk to and seek guidance from enables a person to feel confident that he or she can handle whatever life brings.
What Can I Expect at My First 12 Step Meeting?
Learning to Enjoy Life on a Drug-Free Basis
Without drugs or alcohol to turn to, it’s essential for recovering addicts to develop new interests and find new ways of having fun. Twelve step meetings not only provide much needed support and guidance, but also engage in fun activities that provide “clean” forms of entertainment for group members.
Addiction’s effects do a number on a person’s thinking and emotions, leaving those in recovery feeling “abnormal” long after they stop using drugs. As a support network, 12 Step meetings provide a balanced perspective on daily life happenings and ways of managing a drug-free lifestyle.
If you or someone you know are considering attending 12 Step meetings and have more questions, or need help finding a treatment program that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-653-7143 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.
Pros and Cons of 12-Step Drug Addiction Treatment
Addiction is a disease characterized by chronic relapse. Studies estimate that nearly 3 million people receive the help of drug addiction treatment each year. Many choose 12-step addiction treatment as their guiding path to recovery—but why?
12-Step drug addiction treatment models have a number of pros and cons. Success rates vary depending largely on the user, his or her commitment, and a variety of other factors. Here’s a look at what to expect:
What is 12 Step Addiction Treatment?
This method of treatment was popularized in 1939 when the first Alcoholics Anonymous book was published. The book was titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. This book essentially paved the way for the millions of people who now seek the help of 12-step treatment through support groups and meetings found worldwide.
12-Step addiction treatment programs can help those who show the following signs of addiction:
- Use of a controlled substance in a frequent or consistent manner that inhibits natural habits or abilities to participate in regular routines.
- Having a desire to quit but an inability to consciously remain sober without help.
- Spending excessive amounts of time finding, using, and recovering from the use of drugs or alcohol.
- Suffering from disruptions in quality or ability to perform at work, home or school.
- Suffering from adverse effects in personal relationships, academic achievements, or professional achievements as a result of substance abuse.
- Reducing activities or limiting involvement in activities that are otherwise enjoyable in order to use drugs or alcohol.
- Using substances during times that such use creates hazard or other serious danger.
- Suffering from adverse health problems, disease, or illness as a result of substance use.
- Developing a tolerance to substances of abuse and increasing the level of misuse to accommodate changing tolerance levels.
- Feeling sick or otherwise uncomfortable when the substance is not available – withdrawal.
What are the 12 Steps?
Giving control over to your higher power is a big part of the 12 step recovery process.
Depending on what type of 12-step treatment program you attend (whether it’s a program centered around the treatment of alcohol addiction or one centered around the treatment of narcotics addiction or one centered around the treatment of cocaine addiction) you will have some variation of the following 12-steps as part of the healing process:
- Admit that you are powerless in the face of your dependency and you can no longer manager your life because of it.
- Accept that a higher power can provide you with the sanity and balance you’ve lost.
- Decide to give your life and willpower up to that higher power.
- Take note of your moral obligations without bias.
- Admit to yourself, and to others, including your higher power, the wrongs you have committed.
- Prepare for your higher power to take away your character flaws.
- Ask your higher power to relieve you from your sins.
- Make a list of the people that you’ve wronged and seek forgiveness.
- Make amends with the people you’ve wronged unless it would otherwise harm you to do so.
- Act vigilantly regarding your shortcomings and be prepared to take responsibility for your wrongdoings as they occur.
- Pray to your higher power and ask that the higher power fulfill you with good intentions.
- Achieve spiritual enlightenment as you walk through life knowing the 12 steps and share this message with others.
12-Step Addiction Treatment Pros
Obviously, utilizing any type of action plan in recovery is beneficial. For some, having a distinct and defined set of “steps” that can be taken to achieve healing is helpful.
12 Step addiction recovery programs are found worldwide. You can attend a meeting almost anywhere in the world, so if you travel a lot, this method of treatment and support may be ideal for you.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that in order for treatment to be effective it must be readily available when the user seeks such help. 12-step programs are always available. Many offer online support, and treatment centers around the world open their doors to those looking for supportive care that uses this 12-step approach.
Joining a meeting is free. While small donations are accepted, you do not have to donate if you cannot afford to. This makes 12-step approaches to treatment an ideal choice for those who are on a tight budget.
Preparing for Your First 12 Step Meeting
12-Step Addiction Treatment Cons
Like anything in life, here are also negative elements associated with 12-step programs. Studies show that these programs may not be highly effective for those with undiagnosed or untreated mental health problems. If you suffer from dual diagnosis, or if you have a mental health condition, it’s important to consider seeking help for BOTH conditions—the addiction and the mental illness.
This doesn’t mean that a 12-step addiction treatment program won’t work for you, but that you should be prepared to seek treatment for both conditions in order to guarantee your best chance for recovery.
Get Help Now
If you or someone you love needs help, call our helpline toll-free at 800-653-7143 to speak with a recovery advisor. Our helpline is ready to answer the questions that you may have about treatment and healing. Don’t let addiction take another day of your life—get the help you need today and start a new, sober life tomorrow.
It only takes one call, it’s free and easy—800-653-7143.
What Can I Expect at My First 12 Step Meeting?
Attending a 12 Step meeting for the first time can seem overwhelming, to say the least. Not knowing what to expect, feeling as if you have to participate and dealing with feelings of anxiety in general can make your first time at a meeting seem more difficult than it really is.
The 12 Step support model has become a cornerstone of addiction recovery, helping those in recovery build the type of lifestyle that makes long-term sobriety possible. While 12 step meetings can differ in format from meeting to meeting, the overall objective remains the same: to provide a supportive environment for people who want to take back control of their lives from addiction.
The 12 Step Support Model
The 12 Step support model has a 75+ year history within the addictions field, and has become a mainstay in terms of the role it plays within formal treatment programs as well as a source of support for people outside the treatment process. According to the Journal of Social Work in Public Health, 12 Step meetings equip recovering addicts with the tools needed for ongoing behavior change and long-term abstinence.
Call our helpline at 800-653-7143 to see if your insurance will help pay your rehab costs.
12 Step Meeting Formats
Newcomers have the choice as to whether they speak at their first meeting.
Twelve Step meeting formats, as far as how group meetings are structured, can vary in the following ways:
- Open meetings vs closed meetings, with open meetings welcoming anyone and closed meetings reserved strictly for people working though addiction problems
- All men, all women or mixed meetings
- Small groups vs. Large groups
- Meetings with main speakers
- 12-Step study meetings
- Discussion meetings
- Big Book meetings
Finding out a meeting’s format beforehand gives you an idea of what to expect, so it doesn’t hurt to ask around if you’re looking for a certain type of group.
According to the Journal of Substance Use & Misuse, ongoing support plays a central role in the recovery process and can mean the difference between long-term abstinence and recurring relapse episodes. In this respect, 12 Step meetings work hard to create an atmosphere where newcomers and veteran’s alike can find the guidance and encouragement needed to overcome addiction’s effects in their day-to-day lives.
For these reasons, no one’s expected or forced to speak at a meeting until they feel comfortable. It’s not uncommon at all for first-timers to just listen and take it all in.
The people that make up a group meeting all face the same types of obstacles and challenges you’re facing, so there’s no need to worry about being judged or looked down on.
Your First Meeting Checklist
Overcoming Feelings of Fear
Stopping drug or alcohol use can set your emotions into a tailspin, making certain social situations feel uncomfortable or cause feelings of anxiety. Under these conditions, it can be easy to isolate yourself from the types of situations that can help you move forward.
In effect, feelings of fear, shame and guilt all feed into the addiction cycle and when followed, create optimal conditions for relapse to occur. While the thought of your first 12 Step meeting may seem overwhelming, it helps to keep in mind that much of this discomfort stems from addiction’s aftereffects.
If you or someone you know are considering attending a 12 Step meeting and have more questions, or need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-653-7143 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.
8 Common 12 Step Recovery Groups
When it comes to 12 step programs, there’s no doubt the meetings and recovery support help addicts and alcoholics remain sober. But with so many options, it can be difficult to know which 12 step program you should choose, yet getting the right program can make or break an individual’s recovery.
To help make the decision easier, here are eight of the most common 12 step programs, who they’re designed for, and what they’re about. If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol and ready to start on the road to recovery, now’s the time.
Call 800-653-7143 today to talk to an addiction professional who can discuss your treatment options, answer your rehab questions, and get you the help you need to change your life around.
The beginning of the 12 step movement, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was started in 1935 when two alcoholics, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, realized that helping each other stay sober protected their own sobriety. Designed especially for alcoholics, AA helps individuals let go of their addiction, negative behaviors, and thought patterns and move towards sobriety by making amends, asking for help, and helping others.
GROW provides peer support to those with severe mental illnesses.
Designed for men and women “whom drugs have become a major problem,” NA was started by Jimmy Kinnon in 1953 and directly designed from AA. It’s open to all addicts, regardless of what they’re using, and like AA, the only requirement is the desire to be sober.
Addiction is a family disease, and that’s how Al-Anon and Alateen arose, as a way to help the families of alcoholics and addicts learn to deal with the disease and have support to stop enabling their loved ones. Formed in 1951, the Al-Anon meetings are designed for any and all friends and families of alcoholics, regardless if that person is in recovery.
Codependence and addiction are often two-fold, so it makes since that there’s a meeting for it. Started in 1986, CoDA is specifically for those people who want to learn how to develop functional and healthy relationships.
Designed for those who abuse, are addicted to, and feel that their lives are controlled by marijuana, MA meetings can be found in cities across the country and online.
OA is open to those who have compulsive issues with food, including overeaters, bingers, bulimics, and anorexics. If food controls your life, OA is the program for you.
12 Step Programs: Just how Many are There?
Celebrate Recovery is a Christian based recovery program founded in 1990. Designed for any and all people who have “hurts, habits, and hang-ups” including drug and alcohol addiction, sex addiction, gambling issues, eating disorders, mental health issues, or a history of abuse.
GROW was formed in 1957, when a Catholic priest and group of individuals with mental health diagnosis realized they could help each other. Designed to offer peer support, GROW is for those with serious mental illnesses, both seeking recovery from and prevention of regression.
Are You Ready?
Are you ready to take back control of your life? Are you done with drugs and alcohol? Call 800-653-7143 today to learn how to make it a reality and get the help you need.
Benefits of Choosing a 12 Step Program
12 Step programs have been a staple in treatment for many years. This is because a solid 12 step program, when combined with other addiction treatment practices is extremely beneficial to recovery. Before attending a 12 step program, it is important to understand exactly how it will benefit you.
12 Step Programs have Clear and Concise Steps
When you are struggling with addiction having a clear path can help you to maintain your conviction to end your addiction. The 12 steps give you a guide to what you should be doing in your recovery. This is an added comfort to many who are lost an afraid during their recovery.
Have a Built in Support System
One of the most common benefits of choosing a 12 step program is the idea of addicts helping other addicts. This tradition helps to provide a built in support system. According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the 12 step support system is one of the reasons why 12 step programs are included in treatment. To benefit from a 12 step program and treatment, call 800-653-7143. We can help you find the treatment that you need in order to recover.
Helps you Feel Like you are Not Alone
12 step programs eliminate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Loneliness is a very big factor in treatment failure. Going to meetings during the 12 step recovery process helps end that loneliness and prevents relapse. 12 step programs provide you with a place to go when you are feeling as if you want to go back to the drugs or alcohol.
It is a place where almost everyone understands what you are going through and how you got there. You lose the feeling of isolation when you are in a 12 step group.
You can go to Meetings Any time you Need to
There is no set schedule for 12 step programs. Although the meetings are on a schedule during treatment, there are meetings in almost every city in the United States. Many cities have multiple meetings at various times. Anytime you need a meeting you can generally find one.
12 step meetings do not cost anything. They survive off donations from their members but you are never required to pay a specific amount to attend meetings. The only requirement for most meetings is that you want to be free of drugs or alcohol and the desire for help in doing so. It is one of the only free treatment services available.
Gets you Involved in a Variety of Activities
Most 12 step programs also have outings, activities, and other types of sober entertainment. It can be difficult for those newly sober to find activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol. Many of them relapse due to not being able to go out without being exposed to their triggers. Membership in a 12 step group changes that.
How a 12 Step Program Will Change your Life
When Combined with Other Forms of Treatment, are Highly Effective
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most addiction treatment programs encourage patients to participate in 12 step group therapy during and after treatment. 12 step treatment programs add a layer of additional support. This support comes from the group itself as well as the 12 step process.
Where you can Find 12 Step Programs
There is a 12 step treatment program for every addiction. To find a treatment center that offers a 12 step therapy, call 800-653-7143. We can help you to find the treatment that you need to walk the path of recovery.
Are there Non Religious AA Meetings?
Yes, there are non-religious AA meetings. Although it is a commonly held belief that AA is a religious based organization, it does not have to be. 12 step, AA meetings are often modified for those who do not want a religious form of treatment. The popular criticism of AA being strictly religions is untrue.
What are Non Religious AA Meetings?
The simple answer to what are non-religious AA meetings is, they are AA meetings that do not involve the spiritual or religious components that usually are a part of AA. According to the Alcoholics Anonymous History, it was founded by the Oxford Group, which was a Christian group. This is where the focus on a higher power started.
Since then prayers and other religious notes have been added by various members and groups. AA has always been an organization where independent groups can come up with their own way of dealing with individual addictions.
Many still consider it AA as long as they adhere to the 12 steps and 12 principals regardless of what you call their higher power. To find a nonreligious AA type of treatment or a treatment center to help with your alcoholism, call 800-653-7143.
Who are Non-religious AA Meetings for?
Non religious AA meetings work well for atheists or those who are spiritual but not religious.
According to the New York Times, non-religious AA meetings are for those who:
- Do not believe religion is the answer to sobriety
- Are spiritual but not religious
- Are atheists and do not believe in god
- Do not want religion to be a part of their recovery
This is only a small selection of people who prefer their alcohol addiction treatment non-religious. Some people are just not comfortable with religious beliefs and prayer.
Many people who attend frequent meetings will attend both religious and nonreligious meetings because they need more meetings than one type alone provides. Part of the AA philosophy is that anyone who wants to stop drinking may attend any meeting. AA meetings are traditionally nonjudgmental whether religion is involved or not.
What is Different in AA Meetings that Do Not Involve Religion?
It is not surprising that nonreligious Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are not much different than traditional meetings. They both:
- Believe in the 12 steps
- Believe in the 12 principles
- Believe in the 12 traditions
- Are about addicts helping other addicts
- Take it one day at a time
- Use sharing and supportive practices
- Use the Big Book
- Are willing to let anyone who wants to change attend
- Are available in treatment centers and the community
The differences besides being nonreligious are that nonreligious AA programs do not:
- Use god in their steps or prayers
- Focus on Christianity for answers
- Use the Lord’s prayer
- Focus on spirituality
These differences are what makes those that are not religious comfortable in nonreligious AA meetings.
How do you Find an AA Meeting that Does Not Involve Religion?
Due to a diverse population many treatment centers offer non religious AA groups. You can find a treatment center that has non religious AA meetings by simply calling 800-653-7143. We can help you find the alcohol addiction treatment that you need to help you into recovery.
How Can You Submit to a Higher Power If You Are Not Religious?
What’s the Point of 12 Step Prayers?
Whether you are religious or not the 12 step prayers may be beneficial to your recovery. Although some may be reluctant to engage in prayer, there are definite benefits to using prayer to help you with prayer to help you with your recovery.
These benefits are the point to using 12 step prayers in your treatment. To understand the relationship between recovery and the 12 step prayers it is important to understand the meaning behind the prayers and the benefits of using it.
To realize these benefits and engage in treatment, you need a comprehensive treatment program. You can find the right treatment program for you by calling 800-653-7143.
What is the Meaning Behind 12 Step Prayers?
Although each of the 12 steps has its own prayers, two are a mainstay in all forms of 12 step treatment. These two prayers are the serenity prayer and the Lord’s prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer is used to access the subconscious mind.
The serenity prayer is designed to give peace to those who are struggling in both life and recovery. It works to help resolve the doubt that many experience while trying to work through the issues that addiction causes.
It also serves as a reminder that recovery is accomplished through accepting what is uncontrollable and working to make life better by changing the things that are controllable. To some it also gives you the added comfort that there is a higher power that is looking out for you during your recovery.
The Lord ’s Prayer is a bit different in meaning. In the Lord’s prayer you are asking for guidance, protection, help, and hope. People in treatment can use the Lord ’s Prayer to:
- Allow them to find the right state of mind for recovery
- Access the subconscious mind
- Give them a sense of well being
- Ask for guidance in their recovery
Despite the controversial nature, the Lord’s Prayer is still widely used in many 12 step treatment programs.
What are the Benefits of Using Prayer in the 12 Step Treatment Model?
According to the National Institute of Health, to some spirituality is an important aspect of recovery. Like meditation, just the repetitive nature of prayer helps to:
12 Step Recovery & Serenity Prayer Bracelet
Even if you do not believe in a higher power, prayer is as beneficial as meditation when you are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. To those that believe in the higher power, prayer can:
- Help absolve you of the responsibility for the addiction
- Teach you how to let things go
- Give you guidance in a difficult time
- Gives you the feeling of something higher than yourself that can help you
These benefits of prayer are easy to realize once you are in a 12 step program. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12 step programs are a valuable tool used to give the user a community level support system and should be a part of a comprehensive treatment program. To find the treatment program that is right for you call 800-653-7143.
Is there a 12 Step Program for Depression When Addicted to Alcohol?
Yes, there is a 12 step program for depression when you are addicted to alcohol. There are 12 step programs that focus more on the alcohol addiction, 12 step programs that focus on depression, and 12 step programs that split their focus between both.
12 Step Programs for Alcohol Addiction
The traditional 12 step programs for alcohol addiction are also known to help depression and suicidal ideation. According to the National Library of Medicine, depression is a major symptom of alcohol withdrawal and Alcoholic Anonymous a popular alcohol 12 step program is listed as a good resource for information and treatment of alcoholism.
The depression during alcohol withdrawal may have a variety of causes. These causes are:
- Chronic depression might be the reason for the alcoholism
- Loneliness during alcohol withdrawal
- Isolation during alcohol withdrawal
- Family issues caused by the alcoholism
- Loss of work due to the alcoholism
A 12 step program can help you work toward treating the addiction, the cause, and the depression.
12 Step Programs for Depression
Loneliness and low self-esteem are characteristics of depression.
When the depression causes the alcoholism, it is important to treat the depression as a disease whose symptom is alcoholism. 12 step programs for depression do this. During 12 step programs specifically designed to treat depression, the focus is on what the depression does rather than just alcoholism.
This change of focus is helpful when the main issue is depression. Depression is a very debilitating disease that can destroy your life as quickly as addiction to alcohol can. It is characterize by:
- Intense feelings of sadness
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Low self-esteem
All of these characteristics are made worse by alcohol addiction. When depression causes alcoholism, the only way to treat the alcoholism is to correct the depression. If the underlying mental illness is not treated, the addict is likely to relapse even with 12 step treatment.
12 Step Programs for Dual Diagnosis and Comorbid Disorders
According to the National Institute on Health, many of the newer dual diagnosis 12 step groups are a better fit for those suffering from depression and a substance abuse disorder such as alcoholism. Since both addiction to alcohol and depression go hand in hand, treating both together only makes sense.
12 step programs for dual diagnosis patients often combine the steps for each individual program into a more comprehensive format. Each of the 12 steps is designed to function as both a step toward addition recovery and coping with a mental illness.
Dual Diagnosis In Treatment Centers
Finding the Right 12 Step Program for you
12 step programs are more effective when combined with a comprehensive treatment program. Treatment at a treatment center can help with both the depression and the alcoholism by combining medication, counseling, and 12 step treatment. Most people who engage in a complete treatment program succeed in their recovery from both illnesses.
To find a 12 step program in a treatment center, call 800-653-7143. We can help you find the treatment program that is right for you.
How a 12 Step Program Will Change your Life
12 step programs are a staple in the treatment center community. They have been around since their inception in the late 1930s, when two men needed a way to get out from under alcohol addiction. 12 step programs have been changing lives ever since. Here is how they do it.
12 Step Treatment can Help you Develop a Moral Compass
Many of the 12 step ideologies are about moral and spiritual development. When you are using drugs or alcohol, you lose a part of yourself. To many this part allows them to judge right from wrong when the drug or alcohol is concerned.
When you are trying to obtain the drug, you may do things that ordinarily you would view as wrong. This indicates a moral and ethical problem. Part of 12 step treatment is to get that moral compass back. To find a treatment center that offers 12 step counseling, call 800-653-7143.
Your Sponsor Acts as a Mentor to Guide you
Having a sponsor can help prevent relapse and keep you on track throughout the 12 steps.
The 12 step treatment model involves having a sponsor to help you when you need it. According to the National Library of Medicine, doctors and other treatment professionals call this a “therapeutic alliance” and this alliance allows for better substance abuse treatment outcomes.
When exposed to your triggers and other problems such as stress, if you feel that you are alone, you might relapse. With a sponsor, you are never left alone to deal with all of the negative issues that arise after you stop using drugs or alcohol. This changes your life by giving you someone that you can count on when recovery becomes too much.
12 Step Treatment Gives you a Clear Path to Follow
When you decide to end your addiction, you might feel as if you have no direction in life. Without direction, your life becomes meaningless and you might be tempted to go back to using. 12 step treatment gives you a clear path to walk.
The 12 steps are a guide to both recovery and living your life. The 12th step is never ending and can last a lifetime. It changes your life by giving you direction and a purpose.
12 Step Programs are Continuing Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12 step programs allow for continued community level support even after treatment ends. This continued support helps you remain successful in your recovery. Since it is there whenever you need it, you can prevent relapse by seeking a 12 step group to help you get through a bad period.
The community level support changes your life by giving you a place to go when recovery is particularly difficult. There are meetings in almost every community and at almost every time of day.
How 12 Steps Changed My Life
As a Part of a Treatment Plan, 12 Step Programs are Highly Effective
12 step programs are life changing, particularly when they are a part of a comprehensive treatment plan. They are highly effective when combined with:
- Support services
- Life skill training
To find out how a complete treatment program involving the 12 steps can help you, you need to find a comprehensive treatment center. For assistance in finding the right treatment center for you, call 800-653-7143.
Does Science Really Lay the Foundation for 12 Step Recovery?
In modern times, science is king and most people evaluate their health decision based upon the latest scientific findings. In many ways, these scientific findings have intense societal impacts, as well as personal ones. Just look at the effect of the polio vaccine, introduced in 1952. Polio remains relatively rare in the United States, while other countries without the vaccine face 250,000 cases a year. We trust science to guide and protect us.
It’s no different with addiction than it is with polio. Those who suffer from addiction wish that they could be inoculated, but sadly that isn’t an option. Instead they turn to other developments with hope. But, what of the old tried and true methods? Are they scientifically sound? Do they have roots in medical science? What about 12 step programs?
The strict truth is that 12 step programs were born from a social support model during the 1930s. Addiction science wasn’t yet a practice and the founders of AA, the first 12 step group, were not scientists. So, in absolute truth, no, science didn’t lay the foundation for 12 step programs.
However, modern science has studied the programs and empirically demonstrated their effectiveness and the science that underlies the process. It seems the founders of the program intuitively formed a scientifically sound program.
What follows is a discussion of the roots of 12 step programs, the efficacy of the programs, and the components that science supports as the basis of the program’s success.
By calling 12Step.com, you can join in the millions of people currently benefitting from the program. Call 800-653-7143 and speak to an expert who can link you to meetings and answer your questions. Don’t wait; get started today.
The Foundation of the Program
12 step programs provide a built-in social network of people with similar goals.
Many approaches to treating substance use disorders subscribe to the approach of the 12 step program established initially via Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA. Therefore, the roots of the program begin with AA.
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by Bill W.—a stockbroker—and Dr. Bob—a surgeon. According to the organization, both men had been hopeless alcoholics, and both had been in contact with the Oxford Group, a fellowship that stressed spiritual values in day to day living. Whereas Dr. Bob had not recovers, Bill W. had achieved and maintained sobriety through the group.
When the two men met, Dr. Bob was profoundly affected by a fellow alcoholic who had made good. It would ironically be the stockbroker who would teach the surgeon that alcoholism is a disease. Once Dr. Bob wrapped his mind around this central premise, he became sober and never drank again.
In one respect, the program did align adopt and maintain a fundamental medical truth: alcoholism is a disease.
With research, it becomes apparent that the primary concepts of 12 step groups have connections to psychology, the scientific study of how people think, behave, and feel. Psychologists study all aspects of human experience.
The success of 12 step programs is due in part to what psychologists recognize as “abstinence-specific and general support.” An article in the Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment asserts that the social make-up of the program offers:
- Guidance, monitoring and goal direction by presenting modeling of substance use rejection skills
- Practical advice for maintain sobriety
- Information about how to avoid relapse-tempting situations
People who participate in 12 step groups are more likely to have social network members who support them in minimizing or ending their substance abuse than those who do not attend such programs. Studies show that the increase in friends’ support provided by 12 step programs directly has a positive impact on remission.
New Addiction Book Combines Science And Personal Experience
True, few things seem farther apart than religion and science, but a cover story in the American Psychological Association’s journal specifically details research into spirituality’s role in substance abuse treatment.
Spirituality, or religiosity, form one of the core principles of the 12 step program, which asks members to submit to a higher power. The research of psychologists supports it as a variable that plays a key role in recovery.
A study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol demonstrated Latino participants were able to gain just as much benefit as their white counterparts, even if they participated less in the program. Why was this the case? Deeper religious faith.
Although, the founders of the 12 step program were not themselves scientists and addiction science was not yet established, the 12 step program instinctively formed around ideas whose validity has been empirically proven via contemporary science. So, one could say that their foundation is to some degree scientific.