Are All 12-Step Programs Religious?

Are All 12-Step Programs Religious?

There is a common misconception that all 12-Step programs are the same. Many people believe that they are all based on religious values. As a matter of fact, there are a variety of different 12-Step programs and, though believing in a higher power is a big aspect of the original 12-Step program, your higher power doesn’t have to have religious associations. When you are exploring addiction recovery treatments, you can try different types of 12-Step programs to find one that suits you.

What Is a 12-Step Program?

The popular 12-Step program was developed in the 1930s as a mutual aid support group for recovery from alcohol addiction. Originally, the 12 Steps had strong religious values to them. Later on, the program was adapted by different groups to address a wider range of addiction and behavioral problems, including drug addiction, mental and emotional disorders, and dependency issues.

The genius of the 12-Step program is in the operational process of its core values, which have spiritual components but do not need to be religiously based. These values include faith, honesty, humility, and repentance. Below is a summary of the process:

  • First, admit that you cannot control your alcoholism, addiction, or compulsion
  • Next, come with humility to believe in a higher power that can give you strength
  • Examine past mistakes with the help of a sponsor
  • Own these past mistakes and make amends for them
  • Learn to live a new life with a new code of behavior
  • Help others who suffer from the same problems

Can I Benefit From the Program Even if I Am Not Religious?

The answer is certainly yes. You have probably heard that 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have helped thousands of people overcome addiction in a supportive environment. While the 12 Steps include language about a “higher power,” most programs take the approach that each group member’s understanding of a higher power is profoundly personal. You can choose to define the “power greater than yourself” as the universe, nature, humanity, science, music, even your recovery fellowship, or anything spiritually significant to you.

The benefits of 12-Step programs for recovering individuals include reduced isolation, emotional support, learning of life skills, recovery tips, mutual support for relapse prevention, and an accountability structure. The power of learning from people with shared experiences can be immense.

Will I Be Asked to Confess During 12-Step Meetings?

Facilitators of 12-Step meetings are trained to respect people’s voices and agency. These groups are to be a safe space. Meetings are voluntary, and attendants can leave at any time. Your privacy will be ensured. Nobody is forced or pressured to speak at a 12-Step meeting.

As a newcomer, you can benefit most from listening to the experience of other group members. You will also have the opportunity to speak to members one-on-one if you choose. Once you decide to become a regular, you can find a sponsor who commits to walking alongside your recovery journey.

What Happens in 12-Step Meetings?

12-Step meetings happen regularly, and members can attend as often as they choose. The average length of time it takes for someone to work through the 12 Steps can vary. Many 12-Step sponsors encourage newcomers to attend 90 meetings in 90 days, or at least one meeting a day for three months. Apart from regular meetings, you can have one-on-one meet-ups with your sponsor.

Overall, the focus of working through the 12 Steps should not be to work through the steps as quickly as possible. The emphasis is on how thoroughly you engage with your step work and how you are using the steps to positively impact your everyday life. In regular meetings, you will report back on how you have been doing. Others will listen and support you with affirmation, encouragement, and tips.

How Do I Find a 12-Step Group That Fits Me?

Twelve-step groups are prevalent in nearly every city. You might be able to locate a number of such groups close to where you live. Like all new things, it may take some trial and error before you find a 12-Step group that feels like the right fit for you. It’s also perfectly normal for people to switch groups as their needs change and they grow in their recovery journey.

If you feel anxious about attending your first 12-Step meeting, rest assured that nobody is there to judge you or coerce you into doing anything you are not comfortable with. The only requirement for membership is a heartfelt desire to maintain sobriety and change your life for the better. The support group is there to benefit you, which means you can adapt what works for you and leave the rest behind.

People recovering from substance use disorder can find many benefits from joining a recovery support group like a 12-Step program. Recovery is a journey of personal growth, and group members with shared experiences can help you achieve this. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our team of licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists can guide you through recovery with an emphasis on the importance of group support. If you want to work with recovery specialists to rebuild a healthy lifestyle and surround yourself with positive people and relationships, our residential facility is the best place to be. Finding strong bonds with people in recovery who have similar struggles as you is an essential part of the process. Our full medical residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, and 12-Step programs. Early intervention is key. Act now and call us at (866) 906-3203.