Find out what the 12 steps are, what they help with, and how you can use them in rehab.
If you need help to recover from an addiction, the 12 step program might sound attractive. Learn all you need to know about this time tested technique for addiction recovery, right here.
What is the 12 Step Program?
The 12 steps program was devised by Alcoholics Anonymous as part of their original teachings. The point of the program is to get you to stop drinking (or using drugs) and stay away from substance abuse in future. It is a supportive program which works by encouraging those who have already recovered to act as group leaders that inspire newcomers to follow in their footsteps.
History of the 12 Steps Program
Back at the start of the 20th century, addiction treatment plans weren’t really a thing, per say. It wasn’t until 1935 that two fellows, both recovering addicts themselves, decided to start a sort of club where they could help themselves (and other addicts) to recover. Their names were Dr Robert Holbrook Smith and Bill Wilson. A nice idea soon turned into the Alcoholics Anonymous, and this organisation persists to this day. By 1939, the 12 steps that the two men had devised for use among their members had gained enough notoriety for them to release a book on the subject. The book was called “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism”.
As we know of it today, more than 200 fellowships around the globe adapted the method to suit their recovery programs. The techniques devised by the original program are used all over the world. There is a Cocaine Anonymous[i], a Narcotics Anonymous[ii], A Marijuana Anonymous[iii] and even programs meant to accommodate your family members into your treatments. There is Co-Dependents anonymous[iv], Adult Children of Alcoholics[v], and numerous other charities, groups, and firms, all over the world. The 12 step program is very much still a part of the way we treat recovering addicts to this day.
What are the Original 12 Steps?
When they were first devised, the 12 steps were written along the following lines.
- Taking the First Step towards Recovery from Addiction – The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem – and the twelve step program is the origin of that exact phrase.
- The Second Step is a Spiritual One – The AA’s 12 step program was written at a time when God was a big part of our day-to-day lives. As such, some of the original 12 steps involve dealing with a higher power.
- Turning yourself Over – When you reach this stage you have already recognised there is a higher power at work in your life. Step three encourages you to turn control of your life back over to God in the hope that he will help you. Don’t panic if you are not religious, we will get to the modern version of these steps commonly employed by rehab centres of today in a moment.
- The Moral Inventory – What Smith and Wilson taught next was that you took a full and just moral inventory of your life.
- Admitting your Wrongs – It is now that the participant in the program realises, they are at least 50% (likely more) responsible for all the bad things their addiction has made them do.
- Preparation for Forgiveness – At this point, we ask God or our other higher power to remove the defects from your character so that you can start a clean slate.
- Forgiveness for our Addictions – When enough time has passed, we have developed a slightly different outlook wherein our higher power has removed these defects and empowered us to move forward in our cleaner lives.
- The Dreaded 12 Steps List – This is when you see the film and television alcoholics going to their friends and family with a list of apologies for past actions.
- Fulfilling that List – Step 9 is to make amends to as many people as we possibly can on our list. this is the 1935 equivalent of setting your karmic scales back in balance.
- Continuous Realignment – For the tenth step in treatment towards recovery from alcoholism, we must be aware of ourselves on a consistent basis.
- Involves Prayer and Meditation
- While the final step is to have a spiritual awakening because of the previous steps. Once you have reached this stage, you are able to go back to the AA groups and help other people in your situation to recover from alcoholism[vi].
The Modern Version of the 12 steps
Obviously, these focus a higher power prevalently. The modern 12 steps aren’t quite so devotional and change slightly from organisation to organisation[vii].
1 – Admitting you have a problem
Unsurprisingly, the first fundamental is no different from that of the original 12 steps. You need to recognise that your behaviour isn’t normal before you can treat it.
2 – Admitting Greater Powers than You Exist
You do still have to acknowledge that you do not have full and complete control over your life and actions, although it is less focused on the idea of God.
3 – Recognising your Mistakes
Past actions have hurt people if you are an addict this is a statement of fact. Recognising this is the next fundamental step.
4 – Atonement
Going through those mistakes and asking for forgiveness from those you have hurt.
5 – Healthy Coping Tactics
Now that you are free of the past, you can devise healthier coping tactics than substance abuse to help you manage your future life.
6 – Other Addicts
Since you have survived thus far and are on the steady path to a complete recovery, you can now give back to those that help you up. You do this by getting involved with group therapies so that you can guide others through similar experiences to you.
What About the 12 Traditions?
The 12 traditions are not the same as the 12 steps. They represent the values that you take unto yourself when you join the groups. They are values you should try to abide by while you are in recovery.
These traditions are:
- Spread the Message
- Outside Enterprises
- Give Away Support
- Organise yourself
- Ignore outside opinion
- Speak well of the program
- Preserve anonymity of the members[viii]
If you can abide by these then they won’t turn you away.
What’s a Day in Rehab in the 12 Steps Program Like?
We already covered what a day in rehab was like in another page, but when you are in rehab and on the 12 steps program, you have additional duties to perform. You already attend therapy and group sessions, for example, but on the 12 steps program you have the AA meetings to attend, too. This can be included in your rehab therapy sessions in the afternoon, or it can be completed in the evening when you feel the need to use most.
You will start the day with a healthy breakfast, exercise at least once a day, see your therapist for talking therapies, and spend the afternoon engaged in the various therapy sessions that the rehab clinic you attend offers. Evenings will include a little free time and a wholesome meal.
The 12 Steps of Recovery Before and After Rehab
You cannot start the 12 steps program before you have gone through rehab, and you don’t just finish it when you transition back to normal life. Here’s what happens before and after a rehab clinic inclusive of the 12 steps program.
When you engage with any 12 step treatment plan, it is due to start once you have gone through the detox program. It cannot begin before that, since you need to be clean of drink or drugs before you begin. If you are interested in enlisting in a detox facility, contact our advisors on 0203 955 7700, or get in touch with us through our online consultation service, and one of our team will get back to you.
After you leave rehab, you will be given aftercare that may include therapy sessions, group work, or follow up sessions. If you are involved in the 12 steps program, however, that secondary work includes helping others. The program involves steps that make sure you promise to return as an inspiration to those who are starting out on the track to sobriety. This way, you are giving back to the community that helped you.
Ongoing Group Support
Part of this returning is that you attend the groups and meetups but this time as a recovered addict, rather than as someone who needs help. You can get as involved as you like, just don’t forget to fulfil that promise you made to help others who are in your position. If you want to lead your own group you will find more information here).
Does the 12 Steps Program Work?
Research has been ongoing into this area for over a hundred years now. Back in the history section, we covered how the founders of the AA released a book when he had ‘healed’ over a hundred members. Although scientists are quick to jump on the faith aspect of the 12 steps and thereby dismiss it[ix], they cannot outright dismiss the numbers, which say that those that complete the program have high success rates at future sobriety. An overview of accumulated research completed in 2013[x] cited that the program itself had plenty of evidence of working. It also suggested that the earlier the intervention, the better.
How Much Does It Cost to do the 12 Steps in Rehab?
It doesn’t cost any more than your rehab’s basic rate. The 12 steps are a therapy option and a method of dealing with your addiction. You can join an AA group whenever you wish, and even keep attending once rehab is finished. The model actively encourages you to return and pass your wisdom on to others. You should be able to find free AA groups near you that will let you do so.
Free Consultation for Addictions in the UK
If you live in the UK and you think that the 12 steps program could help you to get off drink or drugs, then calling our free consultation service is the best way to start treatment. We can assess the situation and browse through our connections to bring you the best choice in treatment locations near you.
Where to find Rehab through the 12 Steps Program near you?
Those that live in England and Wales and suffer from alcoholism or a drug addiction, will be pleased to know that we also connect you to 12 step program resources (Also known as the 12 steps of recovery). Our organisation specialises in matching you to the best rehab clinic near you by asking you a series of questions and weighing your responses appropriately. We have a working knowledge of several hundred rehab clinics, meaning that we can find the one that works for you without more than a quick search.