What is a 12 Step Program?
12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous provide no cost, community-based resources to individuals who have been suffering from alcoholism and drug addiction. Recommended program involvement consists of regular meeting attendance, spending time with other program members, working through the 12 Steps with a sponsor, and eventually taking other members through the Steps. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to AA, though it is recommended that members find a sponsor as quickly as possible, work through the Steps in a timely manner, and do everything in their power to maintain total abstinence from all mood and mind altering substances.
Alcoholics Anonymous is said to provide individuals with a “design for living that really works.” While staying sober is the main priority of AA members, they also focus on building self-esteem, maintaining motivation in sobriety, developing a spiritual connection, fostering friendships, and living principled lives. Principles taught in AA include acceptance, humility, honesty, willingness, and patience (among others). While relapse is an unfortunate part of the equation for many AA members, a recent study published by Stanford Medicine revealed that Alcoholics Anonymous helps more people achieve sobriety than traditional therapy. 35 studies (involving the extensive research of 145 scientists) also showed that healthcare costs were lowered significantly by program participation.
At CuraWest we believe in the effectiveness of 12 Step program involvement. Not only is there ample evidence supporting its efficacy, but many of our staff members have maintained long-term sobriety by staying engaged in their own personal programs of recovery. We thoroughly educate our clients on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and facilitate meetings during the detox and residential portions of our program. We encourage clients to socialize with other sober individuals, ultimately gaining a new perspective and learning what it takes to stay sober when treatment comes to an end.
Alcoholics Anonymous & Addiction Recovery
The 12 Step philosophy has proven to be an effective part of many addiction recovery programs. This particular philosophy highlights the Disease Model, suggesting alcoholism and drug addiction are chronic medical conditions that can be effectively treated and kept in remission, but never entirely cured. The 12 Step philosophy helps group members move away from self-centeredness, self-pity and fear as they move towards enhanced spiritual growth and commit to ongoing self-development. The tools taught in AA (working through resentments, taking a nightly inventory, etc.) can be beneficial for everyone — regardless of personal experience with addiction.
An article published by the National Institute of Drug Addiction on the efficacy of 12 Step programs states, “Self-help groups based on this philosophy outline 12 consecutive activities, or steps, that substance [users] should achieve during the recovery process. These steps specify that substance [users] must admit their powerlessness over alcohol and drugs, take a moral inventory of themselves, admit the nature of their wrongs, make a list of individuals whom they have harmed, and make amends to those people. Involvement in such groups is meant to provide participants with support for remaining substance free, a social network (the ‘fellowship’) with which to affiliate, and a set of 12 guiding principles (the ‘steps’) to be followed in the recovery process. The general guidelines for recovery based on this philosophy have been distilled down to what has been described as the 12-Step ‘six pack’: don’t drink or use drugs, go to meetings, ask for help, get a sponsor, join a group, and get active.”
There is ample clinical evidence supporting the effectiveness of 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. It has been repeatedly proven that when simultaneously engaged in ongoing behavioral therapy, those in programs like AA and NA have higher success rates in long-term sobriety.