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Information on the 12-Step Recovery Method for Treatment

Last updated on: Friday, 17 November 2023
  • What You'll Learn

12-step drug rehab is the most common form of treatment. The 12-step model of recovery has been around since the 1930s and has helped countless individuals overcome their substance use issues. Below, you can use the filter and choose your state in order to find a 12-step drug rehab program that fits your needs.

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List of 12-Step Drug Rehabs by State

Here is access to our entire 12-step drug rehabilitation database. Please select a state. If you need help locating the right treatment for you, do not hesitate to contact one of our treatment specialists.

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Type of Treatment

What is 12-Step Rehab?

The 12-step recovery method is a spiritual program that encourages individuals to work through a series of steps and surrender their addiction to a higher power. The 12-step method is utilized in outpatient and residential programs, and it is most known for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

The best way to explain this method is by knowing it is entirely grounded in peer support. Individuals are encouraged to attend group meetings, whether as part of treatment or not. They lean on peers within these meetings, sharing experiences, struggles, and successes with others in similar positions.

Mutual support is a big key to success as most attendees are working with a “sponsor,” someone who helps them work through every step.

Individuals succeed because it prioritizes personal growth and self-awareness. Like many other forms of treatment, participants begin to recognize the consequences of their actions, take steps to make amends, and learn ways to prevent relapse.  

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Who is 12-Step Recovery Good For?

Here are the key points about who the 12-Step Recovery Method might be best suited for:

  • Individuals who are open to incorporating spiritual concepts into their recovery process.
  • Those who are committed to long-term recovery and continuous self-improvement.
  • People who find strength and comfort in shared experiences and peer support.
  • Individuals who are willing to confront and make amends for past actions.
  • Those who need a structured framework to guide their recovery journey.

However, while this method is one of the most commonly used forms of rehabilitation, it does not work for everyone. Like any other form of treatment, a person must ensure it is the right fit for their addiction and underlying issues.

What Are the 12 Steps?

The 12-Steps, as outlined in the Big Book presented by Alcoholics Anonymous, is as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (our addiction), that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves to the care of God as we understood Him.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our consciousness and 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 (addicts) and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that the treatment effectiveness of the 12-steps is believed to be maximized the more an individual can personalize the concepts expressed by the steps into their lives.

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  • When is twelve-step treatment appropriate?

    Twelve-Step treatment programs are an effective option for treating most forms of addiction. Traditional Programs provide an excellent foundation for people who want to be drug-free and appreciate the support of a recovery group. But some people may struggle with the structure or nature of the Twelve-Step method, so it’s important to know that other options exist.

  • Are there alternatives to twelve-step programs?

    There are several modern alternatives to Twelve-Step treatment programs. These include holistic treatment, Medication Assisted Treatment, faith-based programs, and several more. The most important aspect of choosing a program is finding an approach the patient agrees with yet may find challenging. Choosing the quickest or easiest route for addiction treatment is usually risky and can lead to continued substance abuse.

  • What's next after completing a twelve-step program?

    After completing a Twelve-Step treatment program, the usual course of action is to return home and begin outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment is usually a step down from the traditional Twelve-Step inpatient program. During and after outpatient treatment, the person is encouraged to attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. These support groups all draw from the Twelve-Step process to aid recovery.

  • What is twelve-step program in the modern day?

    The 12-step method helps recovering addicts become sober and maintain sobriety by carefully applying the 12-step philosophy. Also, it is the process of sharing experiences with others who have suffered similar issues with drugs and alcohol. Most participants, whether attending a treatment program or a 12-step meeting, find another member that serves as a sponsor that provides guidance and help. The sharing and group support approach, whether done at an inpatient or outpatient facility, or as part of aftercare recovery, has benefited countless addicts and helped them achieve long-lasting sobriety. The main barrier with 12-step approaches is garnering participation, yet this could be said with any approach to substance use rehabilitation.

    However, when compared to cognitive-behavioral therapies or non-traditional approaches, 12-step approaches and counseling are not as successful. According to an article, Attitudes and Beliefs About 12-Step Groups Among Addiction Treatment Clients and Clinicians: Toward Identifying Obstacles to Participation, “The effectiveness of 12-step groups may be somewhat limited by a high attrition rate. Moreover, a large minority of substance users never attend 12-step meetings (introduction).” However, when someone is introduced to the 12-step process during treatment, there does tend to be a higher rate of attendance with meetings during aftercare. Yet, maintaining regular attendance and applying the methodology depends on the willingness of the individual, which would contribute to success.

  • The 12-step method helps recovering addicts become sober and maintain sobriety by carefully applying the 12-step philosophy. Also, it is the process of sharing experiences with others who have suffered similar issues with drugs and alcohol. Most participants, whether attending a treatment program or a 12-step meeting, find another member that serves as a sponsor that provides guidance and help. The sharing and group support approach, whether done at an inpatient or outpatient facility, or as part of aftercare recovery, has benefited countless addicts and helped them achieve long-lasting sobriety. The main barrier with 12-step approaches is garnering participation, yet this could be said with any approach to substance use rehabilitation.

    However, when compared to cognitive-behavioral therapies or non-traditional approaches, 12-step approaches and counseling are not as successful. According to an article, Attitudes and Beliefs About 12-Step Groups Among Addiction Treatment Clients and Clinicians: Toward Identifying Obstacles to Participation, “The effectiveness of 12-step groups may be somewhat limited by a high attrition rate. Moreover, a large minority of substance users never attend 12-step meetings (introduction).” However, when someone is introduced to the 12-step process during treatment, there does tend to be a higher rate of attendance with meetings during aftercare. Yet, maintaining regular attendance and applying the methodology depends on the willingness of the individual, which would contribute to success.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from Addicted.org’s “Learn from our Experts” are answered by Michael Leach, CCMA. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at mike@addicted.org.

Common Terminology Surrounding 12-Step Drug Rehabilitation

Term
Definition
Peer Support
this is a supportive relationship between people who have a lived experience in common.
AA Group Meetings
a set of meetings that happen regularly.
The Big Book
this is the book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which describes the 12-steps, the program, and how one can recoverin from addiction.
The 12-Steps
this is the spiritual program that is guided by the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous; the steps are to help individuals recover from their addiction and restore a manageable life.
Alcoholics Anonymous
is a fellowship of men and women who are sharing their experience, strength, and hope with each other to solve their common problem and help each other recover from alcoholism.
Fellowship
a term used for the society or fraternity of Alcoholics Anonymous.
12 Traditions
these are the general guidelines for healthy relationships between the group, members, and other groups.
12 Concepts
these are the principles to help ensure that various elements of the service structure for each meeting remain responsive and responsible to those they help.
Sponsors
these are members who serve as a mentor to anyone new in the program or meeting. Typically, a sponsor helps a new member work the 12-steps and stay on the recovery track.
Chips
members of 12-step groups receive coins to mark milestones such as 30 days, 60, or 90 days and one year, etc.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Author

AUTHOR

More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Reviewer

MEDICAL REVIEWER

More Information

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.