Know Your Path to Sobriety with a 12-Step Program
While primarily known as a method to overcoming alcoholism, 12 step programs have evolved over the years to help people break free from any addiction, be it to alcohol, drugs, prescription medications, or anything other substance.
One of the more well-known 12 step programs, and the first of its kind having started in the 1930s, is Alcoholics Anonymous. This program is also widely referred to simply as AA. Currently, the official AA program has over 100-thousand groups around the world where the members meet and support each other in their paths to recover from alcoholism. With all those groups, there are more than 2 million members of this 12 step program. Considering there are so many people who use AA to recover from their addiction, certainly there must be a real effectiveness to the program.
Nevertheless, 12-step addiction programs shouldn’t be viewed in the same lens as other types of treatment. Instead, these groups actually work as a support, which works well in helping people dealing with the emotional aspects of quitting their addiction. That being said, you should expect to see that these groups are going to be led by a former addict rather than a medical professional. Because of this disparity to inpatient rehab or therapy sessions, 12 step programs are either highly effective or a complete miss. Nevertheless, 12 step programs like AA are worth looking into since most of the time they are free to members. Generally speaking, the only prerequisite is that the member wants to get away from his or her substance abuse.
What a Good 12 Step Program Will Do
There are certain things that every 12 step addiction recovery group should be doing no matter what substance is involved. These things are to promote members bettering themselves while understanding the effect they have had on their loved ones. In any 12 step program, you will find:
- A (12-step) path to recovering from addiction
- Space to meet with other addicts in a group setting to discuss the addiction
- Somewhere/someone to turn to when the addiction feels overpowering
- Positive atmosphere that teaches and reinforces sober living
What are the 12 Steps to Recovery from Addiction?
Originally created by the people who started Alcoholics Anonymous, the actual 12 steps used by these groups have proven to offer many people a life of sobriety from alcohol, illegal drugs, prescriptions, and more. The steps are to be followed sequentially and one should be focused on a time. Before moving up a step, the current one should be fully taken understood or taken care of.
The 12 steps are as follows:
- Admit powerlessness over the addiction – that your life has become unmanageable.
- Believe that a Power greater than yourself could restore your sanity.
- Make a decision to turn both your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand God.
- Make a deep and fearless moral inventory of yourself.
- Admit to God, yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.
- Be entirely ready to have God remove all those defects of character.
- Humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings.
- Make a list of all people you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong promptly admit it.
- Seek through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with God as you understand God, pray only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Carry this message to other addicts and practice these principles in all your affairs.
Although most people assume the mention of a Power or God in the 12 steps is in reference to the Abrahamic God, that is a misconception. If you find a good 12 step addiction recovery group, there will be no pressure to accept some other religion as your own. No matter your religion, spirituality, or lack thereof, you can decide what stands as your higher power in regards to the program.
12 Step Programs Covering Substances Other than Alcohol
If you have only recently decided that you want to kick an addiction and sobriety feels like a new, challenging concept for you, you should benefit tremendously from meeting with people who are themselves at various stages of sobriety. Hearing other people’s stories about addiction and recovery can go a long way in helping an addict strive to recover from his or her own addiction. It’s this idea specifically that makes 12 step programs like Alcoholic Anonymous so beneficial to its members.
In recognizing just how impactful AA and its 12 steps have been, a number of other “Anonymous” addiction programs have been created to help those who have substance or behavior issues beyond alcoholism. These include but are not limited to the following programs:
- Nicotine Anonymous – Cigarettes & other tobacco products
- Narcotics Anonymous – Any drug or substance
- Heroin Anonymous
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
- Overeaters Anonymous
- Food Addicts Anonymous
- Gamblers Anonymous
- Spenders Anonymous – Shopping
- Codependents Anonymous – For friends and family of an addict to work through dysfunctional relationships
- Families Anonymous – Support for friends and relatives of addicts
What is a 12 Step Program Sponsor? Do I Need One?
A sponsor is a person who you can call upon and talk to when you are having a difficult time with a craving or your emotions. They should have been a part of the program for a relatively long time so they can offer guidance and information while going through the 12 steps.
If you are going into a 12 step recovery group, you will absolutely need a sponsor. When you are first starting a program, the sponsor will be a big help by being there for you, particularly when you’re craving the drug or drink. When you first start a 12 step program, you will be assigned a temporary sponsor. After you’ve spent enough time with the group to get to know the other members, you will get to choose your sponsor.
There are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing your sponsor. He or she should have been sober for quite some time already and is a fairly active member of the 12 step program. You should also make sure that the person will have time for you – if they are sponsoring a lot of people, you might not be able to get the attention you need during a rough time. Also, keep in mind whether or not the person has sponsored anyone else before as well as how well those people’s addiction recovery went or is going. Finally, you really should pick a sponsor who is the same sex as you.
After choosing your sponsor, you’ll be ready to face the steps directly. While you may know what each step entails, most people take years to complete everything. Having a sponsor you can rely could make the difference between successfully rehabilitating or not.
Treatment Facilities Also Use 12 Step Programs
During inpatient rehabilitation, addicts will often have group meetings with the other addicts in the facility. These meetings are actually there to act as a catalyst for addicts to get comfortable talking with others about their addiction so they will be more likely to seek a 12 step program after the inpatient stay is complete. Likewise, it’s not uncommon for treatment centers to hold official 12 step program meetings for those who would like to participate in them.
For those of you looking to get yourself or a loved one free from an addiction to drugs, painkillers, alcohol or any other substance, contact us as soon as possible. Serenity Placement is here to help find a rehab center that works best for you.