Alcoholics Anonymous created the original 12 step program. Since then, many rehab facilities have used adaptations. You don’t have to be religious to benefit from the tenets of the plan. Here’s what you need to know about the 12 step program.
Understanding the Original 12 Step Program
Bill Wilson and Robert Holbrook Smith developed the steps. They date back to 1935. Each level is a statement or intention. They paraphrase as follows:
- A personal admission that the program participant is out of control due to a chemical dependence
- A belief that a higher power could intervene and assist with restoring sobriety
- The decision to submit to this higher authority
- The development of an inventory of moral failings and shortcomings
- Admission to the higher power and to another person what the nature of personal deficiencies is
- Readiness for the higher power to remove character defects
- Communion with the higher power to affect change
- Accounting of all people who have suffered because of the program participant; there’s a willingness to make things right
- Actions that make amends whenever possible
- Continuous personal development with an eye on flaws and immediate remedies
- Meditation that allows for tapping into the higher power
- Recognition that the 12 Step program works, which encourages the individual to act as a mentor and support for others
Applying the 12 Steps to Relapse Prevention
Where the 12 step program truly shines is during relapse prevention. Because meetings and interpersonal relationships encourage accountability, it’s easy to ask for help. You train yourself to be open with others in the program. While doing so, you voluntarily admit temptations and lapses in judgment.
Because you create an inventory of harmful actions, you have to think through the circumstances in detail. In this way, you begin to see patterns emerge in your life. It’s at this juncture that you recognize how a 12 step program integrates well with addiction treatment.
Connecting the 12 Steps to Standard Modalities
One of the staples of rehab is psychotherapy. In particular, cognitive behavioral therapy encourages you to look for dysfunctional ways of thinking or acting. When you pinpoint behaviors that you want to change, you work with the therapist on developing the tools. This form of treatment goes hand in hand with the 12 steps.
Despite its effectiveness, the program can’t stand by itself. Instead, you need to combine it with evidence-based modalities for maximum success. Examples of such treatments include:
- Individual therapy that encourages you to open up, identify areas of possible change, and set goals
- Group therapy that provides for participation in anger management sessions or a 12 step program
- Gender-specific meetings that offer you a safe setting in which you feel comfortable to open up
- Meditation and mindfulness meditation therapy as ways to overcome stresses and ground yourself in the present
- Dual diagnosis treatment assessment and treatment for program participants struggling with co-occurring mental health problems
Can’t I Just Hang out with Some Friends?
The 12 step process sounds deceptively simple. However, these meetings aren’t just buddies hanging out together and talking about personal problems. There’s strict accountability that works both ways. The person who mentors you has a strong commitment to staying sober and helping others do the same.
While you may have a strong support network at home or among friends, it doesn’t provide everything you need in addiction recovery. Unlike your personal supporters, members in 12 step meetings are all in recovery, too. They’re your peers, and understand what you’re thinking and feeling simply because they go through it as well.
Find out how you can get involved in this movement. Therapists at Crestview Recovery gladly answer your questions. Call 866.262.0531 today.