According to the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 74% of treatment centers integrate 12-Step groups into their treatment programs for individuals recovering from substance abuse and addiction. Twelve-Step programs provide peer-based community support that encourages and reminds individuals that they are not alone in navigating recovery, which are integral pieces to a sustainable recovery.
How Do 12-Step Programs Work?
Twelve-Step programs operate under the premise that the power of community can help individuals struggling with addiction and in recovery find and maintain abstinence from alcohol and substance use. However, this healing cannot happen unless they surrender to a higher power. Many individuals find great healing and freedom in 12-Step programs, while some struggle with the religious aspect they promote.
Due to controversy around a higher power, many similar groups have since formed; the original model of the Twelve Steps is the backbone of these groups, but they take a more secular approach without religious roots. This creates space for a higher power to look different for each person, regardless of religious affiliation or a lack of one.
What Are Some Different Types of 12-Step Programs?
There are various forms of groups that follow the framework of 12-Step programming. These groups include, but are not limited to:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Al-Anon and Alateen (for families of those with addictions)
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Crystal Meth Anonymous
- Co-Anon (for friends and family who have a loved one struggling with addiction to cocaine and other mind-altering substances)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Nar-Anon (for friends and family who have a loved one struggling with addiction to narcotics)
- Herion Anonymus
- Marijuana Anonymus
- Adult Children of Alcoholics Anonymous
What Do 12-Step Programs Look Like?
If you or a loved one are thinking about joining a 12-Step program in recovery, here are what each step entails:
- Admitting powerlessness over the addiction
- Believing that a higher power — in whatever form — can help
- Deciding to turn control over to the higher power
- Taking a personal inventory
- Admitting to the higher power, oneself, and another person the wrongs done
- Being ready to have the higher power correct any shortcomings in one’s character
- Asking the higher power to remove those shortcomings
- Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs
- Contacting those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm them
- Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong
- Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation
- Carrying the message of the Twelve Steps to others in need
What Do The Twelve-Steps Mean by Higher Power?
Depending on which resources in the Twelve-Steps you are referencing, the definition of a higher power may vary when comparing the conventional 12-Step programs to alternative groups that take a more secular approach. Some books specifically mention God, while others refer to a higher power, which is more open to interpretation. Due to the religious and spiritual origins of these programs, it can be difficult for individuals that do not resonate with religion to engage in 12-Step groups as part of their support system in recovery.
How Do Non-religion People Participate in 12-Step Programs?
You do not have to be religious to participate in 12-step groups. However, suppose an individual finds themselves interested in the premise of the Twelve-Steps, but cannot get on board with the religious nature. In that case, alternative and auxiliary support groups offer the same guidance through different a context and language.
These groups offer non-religious, alterative, and auxiliary groups seeking a secular approach to 12-Step groups. This makes peer-based community support accessible for those who find healing in religion and those who do not. Although the various 12-Step groups may interpret parts of the original framework in different ways, the underlying theme and goals of the group are the same.
Are 12-Step Programs a Replacement for Substance Abuse Treatment?
It is critical to understand that 12-Step programs are not interchangeable for substance abuse treatment. Rather, they are meant to complement whichever treatment program you are in; they act as a layer of support through more intense care, such as residential or outpatient treatment. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we offer 12-Step groups as a bonus program to our holistic and evidence-based treatment modalities at our treatment center.
Do 12-Step Programs Actually Work?
Whether a 12-Step program works varies on an individual basis. However, 12-Step programs are proven effective through research and personal testimonial of individuals participating in 12-Step communities; they work for many individuals, regardless of religious nature or secular viewpoints. One reason many find healing in 12-Step communities is that having a support system that promotes your recovery rather than discourages it is essential to healing and growth. Having a support system with your best interest as heart leads to lower rates of relapse over those who do not have this same type of community.
Participating in a 12-Step program can be one effective treatment in recovery, but it is never a replacement for evidence-based treatment. The most efficient way to experience long-lasting and sustainable recovery is by finding a treatment center specializing in addiction treatment that can create an individual treatment plan to fit your needs, goals, and preferences. Choosing to be in a 12-Step community that makes sense as you move through treatment and recovery is a bonus, and at Laguna Shores Recovery, we offer both.
Having a support system in recovery is one of the most critical steps for long-lasting recovery from addiction. To find the support you need as you begin recovery, call us today at 866-934-5276.