What Are 12 Step Recovery Programs?
Recovering from addiction isn’t easy. Even though deciding to attend a drug rehab is difficult on its own, your recovery is only beginning. Once you’ve left rehab, the real journey to sobriety begins, and nothing is more helpful during this time than a 12 step recovery program.
Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program have long been the main staple of 12-step recovery programs in America. These support groups are quintessential to a successful recovering and maintaining sobriety. These 12-step recovery programs have proved to be effective in supporting those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction all across the globe.
AA is far from the only 12 step recovery program out there today. Such programs exist for nearly every type of addiction. But what’s their role in recovering from drug and alcohol addiction? These 12 step recovery programs aren’t actual treatment for an addiction; rather, they’re support. That’s why many use AA as aftercare once they’re done with their actual treatment. These groups value sobriety, but they do not operate the same way a 12 step program does inside a rehabilitation center. Many treatment centers incorporate the 12-step recovery programs into their treatment care.
Although AA and other alternative 12 step recovery programs aren’t considered treatment, that doesn’t mean they’re not helpful. They place high value upon particular principles that are essential to a healthy and happy recovery, including:
- Promoting sobriety
- Providing a place for addicts to meet and discuss addictions and recovery
- Providing a safe place for addicts when they feel they want to use
- Providing a template for addiction recovery
What are the 12 Steps?
12 step programs are aptly named because the programs include twelve steps. These 12 step recovery programs believe that recovery from addiction must be completed in steps, but a higher power guides participants through these steps. In the United States and other areas, many consider this higher power to be a Christian god, but other 12 step programs include people of different religions or people without any religious affiliations. According to some of these programs, a higher power can be anything we consider it to be. Here’s the most common version of the twelve steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.
- We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and
the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to
carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our
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A 12 Step Recovery Program vs. a Non 12 Step Program
While 12 step programs are effective, and millions swear by them, they’re not the only option for rehab treatment or aftercare. Many non 12 step rehab centers are also popular and effective, meaning that you should weigh your options before signing on to one particular program. 12 Step Recovery Programs are beneficial for a lot of different reasons, including:
- They’re easy to find – No matter where you are, a 12 step program is likely to be within reach. Programs like AA have been around for so long and have such a respected history that new AA groups are being formed every day. Even if you live in a small town or in a rural area, you’re likely to find a 12 step program close to home.
- They’re convenient – 12 step programs often operate on a regular schedule, and aren’t demanding like your time in rehab may be. In a 12 step program, you take recovery at your own pace, and this is even easier with the 12 step’s structured system.
- They’re structured – When you enter a non 12 step rehab program, it may not be tailored in a way that’s effective for you. The 12 steps are famous and still used worldwide because of how easy their structure is to navigate, and how easy it is to for just about anyone to use them as a guide during recovery.
However, there are some downsides to 12 step systems. They can include:
- A system that might not work for you – 12 step programs are openly and proudly religious. This can make following them and maintaining a meaningful sobriety difficult for those who don’t value faith or religion.
- A volunteer-based system – While this could also be listed as a benefit, 12 step programs are often community-centric, volunteer-run organizations. Some may want or even need a more professional touch during their recovery. However, entering a 12 step program means that you’ll be speaking with and learning from individuals who have been through the same things you have, and can speak from experience on your level.
For some, a non 12 step rehab center might be more beneficial. Some things unique to this system are:
- A non faith based approach – For some, religion may not be an important part of their lives, and can make recovery a confusing and sometimes difficult experience. For those who don’t prioritize religion, a non 12 step rehab may offer a better chance at recovery.
- A wider variety of options – 12 step rehabs are just that: 12 step based. This means you’ll likely get a similar experience everywhere you go. If you’ve tried the 12 steps before or simply want something different, a non 12 step rehab might be more beneficial.
Non 12 step rehab offers valuable alternatives, but this doesn’t mean it is inherently better. Alternative programs like these have their downsides, too.
- A variety of experiences means no guarantees – Recovery is difficult, and it can be even more difficult without a structured plan in place. The 12 steps offer a backbone to your recovery, while non 12 step rehabs might not have this same structured and tested support system.
- Effectiveness is hard to measure – It’s impossible to measure the success rates of rehab and recovery programs, but many non 12 step programs are new and untested, meaning that you’re in uncharted territory. If you want something with a history rather than something bold or experimental, a 12 step recovery program might be the choice for you or your loved one.
How to Find a 12 Step Recovery Program Near You
AA claims to have more than 2 million members worldwide. With that reach, there’s always a meeting available. If you’re in the U.S., you can find a meeting on the AA website. However, if you’re struggling with something besides alcoholism, don’t worry: there’s a program out there for anyone struggling with substance abuse.
There are plenty of different programs out there, including:
These are just a few of the most popular 12 step programs out there. No matter your addiction, you’re likely to find a program out there that can help you.
If you’re looking for the best treatment center that offers 12 step recovery programs, we can help. Our experienced staff is adept at treating any drug or alcohol addiction. We understand the value of sobriety, which is why we work tirelessly to provide sobriety to every person who walks through the door. Hopefully, you’re next.
Call Willow Springs today. Let us help you take the first of 12 steps on your road to recovery.