The 12-Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous to establish a guideline for an optimal method to overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol. Although the 12-Steps put heavy emphasis on spirituality, many non-religious people have found the program to work for them and be immensely helpful. The language in the 12-Steps emphasizes the presence of God as each individual may understand their own conception of their higher power.
Here are the 12-Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and 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, to ourselves and to 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 persons who we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do 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 only 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 of our affairs.
According to a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, cognitive restructuring — or the ability to change the thought patterns in ways that also change behavior, is an important element of substance abuse treatment. This study shows that 12-Step programs can enable cognitive restructuring around substance abuse and similar behaviors. This type of work makes it possible for individuals to change their behavioral patterns and thought processes concerning their substance abuse.
Once an individual has gone through all 12 steps, it’s likely that they may need to go through them again. It’s possible that there were some issues that they needed to work out in their life but didn’t. An addict might need more time to further process the 12 steps and gain a new perspective through working each step over again. The Tenth Step is all about taking a continued moral inventory which means that a person must be honest with themselves. If that person isn’t ready to move on, then they should consider working the steps again.
By working the 12 steps, there are a number of reasons as to why this program is effective for treating addiction. There is an abundance of AA groups and meetings making it easy to find a group near someone suffering from addiction. With that, comes a large and well structured social network as AA has been around for so long and is so widely instituted. This network of people plays a crucial role in recovery as it’s important to practice unity with other alcoholics and addicts. Combined with that is the emphasis the 12-Step program places on having a sponsor that shares their experience, strength and hope in recovery or to provide encouragement and motivation as well as attending group meetings and finding strength through peers.
Ultimately, the fact of it is that a treatment program, even one that fits an individual’s exact needs, is only going to be as effective as the effort that is put into it. Any Lengths Retreat is an all men treatment center that utilizes the 12-step program in order to stay sober and treat addiction with an optimal method of recovery. We believe that working a solid 12-Step program is the solution to recovery and fundamental to living a life of sobriety.