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Do 12 Step Programs Really Work?

Many people wonder if the 12 step programs for addiction treatment and recovery really work. Can people really recover using a set of steps to help them in their understanding and guide them toward living a clean and sober life? This can be complicated to answer, but when we look at the science behind the program, the answer is a resounding yes.

Step-based addiction recovery programs have been amazingly helpful for millions in their quest to overcome substance and alcohol abuse disorders, and can also serve as a guide to continued recovery throughout life.

What is a 12 Step Program?

If you have ever known anyone who has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and they’ve mentioned being on a certain step, they were referring to a 12 step program. In short, the steps are kind of like climbing a staircase. With each new step, there is something that needs to be learned or addressed.

Together, all the steps make up the process to addiction recovery, but they also can be used individually, whenever a person is struggling in their efforts to remain clean and sober. While it is not necessary to completely master each of the 12 steps, it is highly important that the individual has a very clear understanding of each step and how it applies in their own life and journey.

What are the 12 Steps?

Each step might vary slightly, depending on the organization that a person is attending, but, in general, they are all pretty similar. The original AA steps are as follows:

Step 1: Admitting powerlessness over alcohol or substances. That life has become unmanageable.

Step 2: Coming to the belief that there is a Higher Power that can restore the individual to sanity.

Step 3: Choosing to turn one’s will and life over to the care of the Higher Power as it is understood.

Step 4: Fearless and searching moral inventory of oneself.

Step 5: Admitting to the Higher Power and oneself, as well as another person exactly the nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Coming to a state of readiness to have the Higher Power remove all of the character defects of the individual.

Step 7: Asking with humility for the Higher Power to remove the shortcomings of the individual.

Step 8: Listing all the people that have been wronged and developing a willingness to make amends to all of them.

Step 9: Making amends to those that have been hurt whenever it can be done, except when doing so can cause harm.

Step 10: Continued personal inventory and learning to own and admit wrongs promptly.

Step 11: Continuous prayer and meditation to help the individual improve contact with the Higher Power, praying to understand what is willed for the individual and the power to carry it out.

Step 12: Practicing the steps and principles of the Spiritual Awakening brought about by the steps in all aspects of life.

Keep in mind that not all steps are exactly like these, but this should give you a basic understanding of what they are.

Are the Steps Hard to Complete?

Surprisingly, many people worry that the steps will be too difficult to complete. They often wonder how they can achieve recovery from addiction if it’s too hard to finish the steps in a 12 step program. While it does often require some work to put the steps into effect, they also give us focus and a sort of guidepost for which to live a new, clean and sober life.

The beautiful thing about a 12 step program is that there is no time limit for completing a step. Yes, you want to move forward, but if you’re struggling with a certain step, it’s perfectly okay to take your time until you get to where you need to be with it.

The Takeaway

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, and you’re looking for a treatment model that is known to stick, a 12 step program might be very well worth trying. It’s not just a tool to help you stop using or drinking, it’s a new way of life, and for many, that is exactly what they need to help them embrace and enjoy their recovery journey.

If you’re ready to get started, we are ready to help. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 844-903-2111 to find out how you can start overcoming your addiction today.