What is 12-Step Treatment?

Michelle Rosenker

July 26, 2019

In 1938, Bill Wilson (commonly known as “Bill W.”) wrote out steps he felt were able to help alcoholics like himself maintain sobriety and continue to succeed in recovery. Having spent part of his life active in his own alcoholism, Bill W. soon found in his sobriety that he could not maintain that sobriety without the help and support of others. What came of the steps he developed and his writings were Alcoholics Anonymous and the Big Book.

Alcoholics Anonymous quickly became popular and, just as it occurs today, people who were struggling with alcoholism and addiction came together to share their stories and experiences with others who could relate. Today, nearly 100 years later, Alcoholics Anonymous has more than two million members worldwide.

The Big Book, which is practically required reading when one is in recovery from alcoholism,  is what Bill W. devised for those who could not attend AA meetings. The AA meetings that are conducted today are based on the model set forth in the Big Book. This model, known as the 12-Step model, has since been implemented into other support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. It is also the foundation of Al-Anon, a support group designed for the loved ones of addicts and alcoholics.

Despite being slightly altered over the years, the 12-Steps still remain true to Bill W.’s original thoughts. In their entirety, they are as follows:

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable

2. Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood  him

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, exceptt when to do so would injure them or others

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

The core of these twelve steps is rooted in a higher power, which does not have to be God or any other religious figure, despite how it appears in the text. In fact, the 12 Steps are not affiliated with any religion, allowing all members to develop a higher power of their own choosing.

The 12 Steps and AA

How are the 12 Steps Incorporated into Addiction Treatment?

For some people, Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous is the only form of addiction treatment they receive. In some instances it is their sole option, as professional treatment may be unaffordable for them or they have no insurance. Many people, however, are introduced to the 12 Steps through their addiction treatment program.

Those individuals that are in inpatient or outpatient treatment will be exposed to the 12 Steps at some point in their treatment, as it is a highly revered practice. In inpatient settings, patients may attend AA or NA meetings on campus or go with a group of other patients to local meetings outside of the facility. Attending meetings while still in treatment can not only introduce patients to what 12-Step meetings are like, but also work to show them just how beneficial following this treatment model can be.

Benefits of 12-Step Treatment

Studies have shown that those who regularly attend 12-Step meetings are more likely to stay sober than those who do not. For those who are in recovery, the 12 Steps are not just words they recite. Instead, each step is focused on and applied to one’s life in an effort to achieve a spiritual awakening. Known as “working the steps” participants are encouraged to complete one step at a time both while in the group and independently. In both AA and NA, individuals can obtain sponsors, which are people who are already in recovery and who can help guide other people through the steps all while providing a direct line of support. As individuals remain connected to the 12-Step model, they will begin seeing how beneficial it is to their lives.

Some of the most notable benefits that the 12-Steps can offer include the following:

● Immediate, unwavering support from a group of others who have shared similar experiences
● Sponsorship from someone who has completed the steps and who can help someone else move through them
● Opportunities to talk about pressing issues as well as listen and learn from others who speak during meetings
● Accountability to remain sober and active in recovery
● Learning to not only benefit from being a part of a 12-Step community but to also give back to that community through service to others

The 12-Step model of treatment might begin for many people while they are in treatment, but it is something that they can continue to participate in for however long as they would like. And, no matter where a person goes in the world, he or she can rest assured knowing that in all areas, AA and NA meetings are happening on a regular basis. Sometimes just knowing that the support is available at every turn is enough to keep recovery going.

Get Help Now by Calling Us at JourneyPure Ft. Walton

At JourneyPure Ft. Walton, we can help you overcome your struggles with substance use disorder with several different approaches including the 12-Steps. If you are ready to put a stop to your active addiction, reach out to us right now. We can help.