12 Step Program

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Addiction has existed since the beginning of time. One of the most common drinks in medieval times was mead and all ages drank it with every meal. It’s an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with a variety of fruits, grains, and whatever was on hand. Every drug was legal at one point, and the majority of them were made illegal because of political or racial reasons. Cocaine was an ingredient in soda, MDMA has shown beneficial properties in helping with PTSD, research has proven that marijuana helps over 50 medical conditions, opium helped colicky babies in the last century, and the list goes on. Regardless of their benefits, drugs have also caused an immeasurable amount of damage throughout history, resulting in death, harmful addictions, and the devastation of millions of live.

Due to the fact that drugs cause a change to the chemistry of the brain, not many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have the ability to stop using on their own. The 12-step program is one of the oldest treatment programs and offers adaptations that conform to a host of personalities and addictions, from gambling to cocaine. It has been used as a standard of drug and alcohol rehabilitation and recovery in programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) and NA (Narcotics Anonymous). We are going to delve into what makes up the 12-steps and how they are effective.

What is a 12 step program?

AA founders created the 12-step program in the late 1930s with the goal being to create a supportive environment in which people who are struggling with addiction can share their experiences without judgment. This helps them recover from addiction and maintain their sobriety. With the creation of the 12-step recovery program, many groups realized the benefits that following this process can give so they have adopted and adapted the steps to fit specific situations. They gives emphasis to the presence of God in each person’s life but can be interpreted into many religious beliefs, as well as acclimated to more secular viewpoints. Just like the process outlined for grief, the steps can be used as each addict finds necessary and in whichever order benefits them best. Each person follows them as he sees fit, but they are only beneficial if truly ingrained into one’s behaviors throughout their life.

What are the 12 steps of the program?

While the initial program was created as a standard based on Christian beliefs, a more generic form can be used for the recovery of any dysfunctional or addictive behavior. Where God is referred to, those who believe in other higher powers, energies, or their own efforts should not let Christian prejudices deter them from a powerful and effective treatment that could save their life.

What are the 12 traditions?

Unlike the individual’s journey of the 12 steps, the 12 traditions are focused on the group. As the meetings grew in popularity across the country, the process that AA used was analyzed, determining what worked and what did not work in their efforts to help people maintain sobriety.

You will hear people who promote the use of a 12-step program say that “it works if you work it”. It not only takes personal reflection, writing thoughts and emotions down, and analyzing them, but it also takes the accountability, fellowship, and encouragement found in group settings. Many drug and alcohol rehab facilities base their treatment on a combination of medication, individual psychotherapy, and group therapy with a 12-step process. Over 80 years of successful testimonials stress its effectiveness, but there is no magic wand to wave when someone decides that they want to live a sober life. It takes dedication and work, and the goal of the 12-step program is to enable those who want their happy lives back to achieve that goal a little quicker.