If you’re looking into rehab and addiction recovery treatment, you’ll quickly find that most options use 12 Step to one extent or another. In fact, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 65% of all rehab centers use 12 Step as part of their programs. That popularity means that almost any center you go to will likely offer some form of 12 Step recovery.
Understanding what that means and what it means for your recovery can help you to make good choices for your recovery. For example, if you want to attend a rehab center using the 12 Step model. In addition, it can give you better insight into what treatment is like and what you can expect as you move through treatment.
What is 12 Step About
12 Step is a recovery method designed around finding a spiritual higher power, personal acceptance, personal growth, external and social motivation, and building social bonds. All of the steps center around recognizing a higher power to oneself and therefore being able to step outside of one’s own ego to acknowledge your life, habits, and how you impact your life and that of those around you – and to work on building a life you want.
The original 12 Step program was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and there are now many 12 step variations for different addictions, like NA for drugs and GA for gambling. 12 Step focuses on this through social motivation and accountability, through mentorship, and through spirituality. However, the spiritual aspect should not be religious, but personal. The primary goal is to share with your peers and receive and give support in efforts of maintaining abstinence.
The 12 Steps
The 12 Steps include:
- Admitting you are powerless in the face of addiction
- Acceptance that a higher power can help
- Turning control over to that higher power
- Self-awareness or personal inventory
- Admitting wrongs, you have done to every relevant party or person, including yourself
- Preparing yourself to correct problems or behavior problems
- Asking for help in removing or fixing those problems
- Making a list of wrongs done to others and making amends for them
- Contacting people, you’ve hurt where doing so does not cause more hurt
- Continuing to practice self-awareness and admit when you’re wrong
- Seeking enlightenment or connection with the higher power
- Helping others in need
In a few rehab centers, the higher power is based on Christianity. And some 12 step groups focus on different religions, such as Judaism, Buddhism, or Islam. But most practice a more agnostic approach, seeing the higher power as an expression of whatever spirituality the individual believes in. For this reason, not all groups are consistent, and many don’t recognize the same higher power between members.
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How 12 Step Works in Rehab
Al most every 12 Step focused rehab center integrates the 12 steps into their overall treatment program. This means that you’ll receive 12 step treatment alongside evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, substance abuse counseling, cognitive management and motivational therapy, motivational interviewing, anger management, trauma-related counseling, and other therapies.
Here, 12 Step will often be included as a daily or weekly meeting, where you can join with your peers and share. In some cases, this will mean spending an hour or more of your day, every day, with a 12 Step group. In other cases, 12 Step will take up much less of the total amount of treatment.
However, in every 12-step oriented treatment, you’ll begin to follow the 12 steps. Often, you won’t move beyond the first few steps while in treatment. However, in some long-term treatment, you may move through a significantly larger portion of the steps. Most of the steps are ongoing and long-term. Once you get to them, you should never really stop doing them.
Here, you’ll often start on:
- Recognizing that you are experiencing addiction and cannot control yourself
- Surrendering to that fact and asking for help
- Becoming aware of your behaviors and aspects of yourself that contributed to addiction and that maintain addiction
- Recognizing behaviors that promote self-restraint and recovery
- Working to improve and encourage behaviors that lead you to where you want to be
- Changing behavior
- Compassion for yourself and for others
12 Step also offers access to tools to help you achieve those goals. That will tie into your therapy and counseling because it will mean that you have things to work on. For example, you may get assignments, you may have to find and list behaviors, and you can work on those with your counselor and your therapist. That means you’ll have more help with 12 Step than if you would just be going into it after treatment.
Aftercare and Long-Term Support
While 12 Step fits into many addiction treatment programs, it’s also used as aftercare. Here, your rehab center will help you to move into a local 12 Step group, where you can meet new people, get support from that group, and continue your 12 Step journey. Having already experienced 12 Step as part of your rehab journey can help you to better integrate into a new group outside of care, so that the group can offer support for your ongoing recovery – rather than something new for you to overcome.
In addition, having that aftercare and long-term support can help you to stay in recovery by providing ongoing social accountability, a place to share, and a place to set goals, to help others, and to get help from your Sponsor and from others.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, getting help is important. Drugs and alcohol cause physical and behavioral addictions. While most of us can put down physical addiction and power through a few days or weeks of withdrawal, behavioral addiction requires self-introspection, tools to change yourself, and ongoing support in that. It’s also the behavioral addiction that normally causes relapse, because you’ll continue to experience cravings and behavioral problems for years after you stop drinking or using.
This means that the most important thing you can do is get help, make sure it includes evidence-based treatment, and try to prioritize options that offer aftercare and long-term support.
If you or a loved one would like more information about drug rehab, alcohol rehab, dual diagnosis rehab, or detox please contact us to speak in complete confidence with one of our experienced treatment advisors today.