Founded in the 1930s, the program first started as an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Since then, it has grown and been accepted globally as the 12-step program. The program, like the SMART Recovery Program, is community-based.
If you’re tired of going back and forth between sobriety and constant relapse, this program’s for you. It’s ideal for those seeking to take their lives back from the clutches of addiction. With a group of people going through the same addiction to support you, recovery is more than effective.
For most people, any type of addiction recovery program often conjures up certain images. For some, they might picture a group of people holding hands singing kumbaya. For others, it might involve long hours of uncomfortable stares and forced confessions.
Yet, this program is anything but. Everyone in the group is working towards a common goal: recovery. This means that any room for judgment is nonexistent. So, if you’ve been considering joining a 12- step program, there are a few things you should know.
What are the 12- Step Programs?
The keyword to defining such programs is that they are support groups. The program brings a group of people struggling with substance abuse together where they share their struggles, mistakes and strengths. The interactions should encourage users and reinforce positive thoughts and emotions.
The program earns its name because it uses 12 principles that the attendees are supposed to adopt. The 12 principles or steps are geared towards helping members break their addictions. Not only will the individuals learn how to manage their addictions, but also lead an addiction free life.
What Are the Types of the 12-Step Programs?
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
- Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
- Smokers Anonymous (SA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
- Heroin Anonymous (HA)
What Are the Principles of the 12-Steps?
The12 principles include:
Step 1. Honesty
Step 2. Hope
Step 3. Faith
Step 4. Courage
Step 5. Integrity
Step 6. Willingness
Step 7. Humility
Step 8. Love
Step 9. Discipline
Step 10. Perseverance
Step 11. Spirituality
Step 12. Service
How Does it Work?
This program has the individuals meet up in a group and share their experiences. Of course, the program has to make the individuals feel safe and supported. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that the information provided and the identity of the members are kept private.
This way, every member of the group can trust each other and work together towards recovery. The meetings can take place in a church, school or any other public facility.
One should keep in mind that this treatment method encourages people to admit their powerlessness. This is where subscribing to a higher power comes in. Once this has occurred, members are also encouraged to acknowledge their mistakes and how to amend them.
With every minute spent in a meeting, the members not only learn the 12 principles but forge a bond.
Do I Have to Be Religious to Attend?
No, you do not have to be religious. The program does encourage spiritual fulfilment through subscribing to a higher power. This higher power, according to a former secretary of a certain AA program, can be anything.
What Happens During a Meeting?
Meetings usually differ in terms of who can access them. Some meetings allow people other than the participants to attend. Others are usually closed off to the public, remaining private to the participants only. The leader of a meeting is someone the participants can relate with; a person in recovery.
In every meeting, they share their recent failures and successes. Sessions should also include a look into the 12 principles and meditation. After the meeting is over, members cannot talk about another person’s story with someone that is not a part of the group.
Can I bring Family or A Friend to the Meeting?
This depends on whether the meeting is closed off to the public. If it isn’t, then you are allowed to bring a friend or family member to the meetings. Always make sure you ask before you do first.
What Is A Sponsor?
Sponsors act as guides for newcomers looking to recover and stay sober. They help others learn the 12 steps and how to understand and learn from their past mistakes. These sponsors are people in recovery that get to share their experiences, knowledge on remaining sober.
How Long Does It Take?
Attendance differs from person to person. During the initial stages of recovery, one may be encouraged to attend several times a week. It can take weeks, months or even years depending on the individual’s willingness and consistency.
Other factors also come into play, which includes: your level of addiction, your support group, your commitment, and motivation. It all depends on you and how much you want to live a sober life.
What are the Benefits of the Program?
This program is known to be effective and very beneficial to those willing to recover. The entire program is based on evidence as numerous participants have led many to recovery. Many come out with a willingness to abstain from their addictions.
Other benefits include:
- Several studies found that having an early start to such programs can help reduce any form of substance use
- The members develop healthier habits
- Long term relationships and bonds are formed
- The impact experienced from such programs is said to be long term