Most addiction experts will agree that detox is the most critical aspect of overcoming an alcohol use disorder; however, there is much more involved when it comes to achieving long-term recovery success, which is where 12-step programs come into the picture. For those who may not be familiar with them, 12-step programs are support groups where individuals openly share their experiences related to destructive behaviors, such as alcohol addiction. However, they can also be beneficial to those struggling with other substance abuse problems or even an addiction to gambling.
In terms of alcohol addiction, 12-step programs will encourage members to follow established guidelines that are designed to help them achieve short and long-term sobriety. The most popular of these programs is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). However, with the success of AA, several similar programs have also been established, including Narcotics Anonymous and Heroin Anonymous.
COMBINING 12-STEP PROGRAMS AND STANDARD ALCOHOL ADDICTION RECOVERY TREATMENTS
Although most individuals will attend a 12-step program after completing rehab, many rehab facilities will offer these programs in conjunction with other treatment modalities, including medically-assisted detox and addiction counseling. According to a study published by SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), more than 74 percent of rehab facilities in America will use 12-step programs alongside standard addiction recovery treatment to give individuals the best chance of achieving long-term recovery success.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A 12-STEP PROGRAM?
Generally speaking, those in the earlier stages of addiction recovery will attend a 12-step program 2 or more times per week. During these meetings, they will share their struggles and achievements related to their alcohol use disorder with others in the program. Although administered or coordinated through a licensed rehab facility, 12-step programs are not run by addiction counselors. Instead, they are led by individuals that are still in recovery and have a desire to help others remain alcohol-free. And they do this by sharing tips related to relapse prevention along with coping with cravings and temptations. While in a 12-step program, members will have a sponsor, someone who will explain how the program works and, more importantly, be there for them whenever they feel compelled to start drinking again.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A 12-STEP PROGRAM?
A 12-step program provides individuals with the tools that they need to maintain their sobriety during and after completing rehab. Some of these tools include learning how to come to terms with their addiction, accepting the consequences of their actions while under the influence, and finding ways to repair the relationships that they damaged as a result of their addiction. Furthermore, studies show that many individuals are more likely to follow the advice of their sponsor in a 12-step program than the recommendations made by a licensed addiction therapist since they have gone through similar struggles when it comes to substance abuse. And for those without friends or family, these sponsors can help them from veering off course when it comes to maintaining their sobriety. In most cases, the treatment costs associated with a 12-step program is linked to the total cost of care, which is determined by the rehab facility. However, if an individual chooses to continue with these programs after completing rehab, they are free.
ARE 12-STEP PROGRAMS EFFECTIVE?
Most rehab facilities across the nation agree that 12-step programs play a critical role when it comes to helping individuals remain alcohol-free long-term, insomuch that many have made them part of the evidence-based treatments that they offer to those who are serious about putting alcohol abuse behind them for good. According to a 2013 study published by Social Work in Public Health, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the earlier an individual takes part in a 12-step program, the less likely they are to relapse. It is important to note, however, that individuals will need to stick with these programs long-term to get the most out of them. To that point, a 2014 study published by the National Institute of Health revealed that 49 percent of individuals who completed formal rehab and continued to attend 12-step meetings were still alcohol-free after 8 years.
If you’re interested in learning more about how a 12-step program can help you end your relationship with alcohol or need help finding a rehab facility in your area, you’re encouraged to speak with one of our addiction specialists today at 800-737-0933.