12 Step Programs
12 Step programming originated in 1938 when founder Bill Wilson developed the model for the group Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill Wilson wrote out and developed a design for living and a plan of action to help others be able to live a healthy, sober life; after experiencing his own battles with alcohol addiction. The 12 steps and other teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous are compiled in what has become known as the Big Book. The book is referenced and studied within 12 step communities as its teachings are a combination of concepts from other spiritual and religious teachings.
The basic concept of the 12 step model is that individuals can help one another maintain and achieve abstinence from substances and behaviors they are addicted to. They can do this by being a part of meetings and sharing their experience, strength, and hope to receive and give support to one another to maintain abstinence. Abstinence practices can account for high levels of increased positive change in mental health and long-term recovery.
What Are The 12 Steps?
According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 steps are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is the original 12 step program. AA helps people struggling with alcohol abuse. The organization is worldwide and can be found in hospitals, treatment facilities, and prisons. Like all 12 step programs, the organization is associated with Christianity. However, one does not have to be religious to benefit from the group.
Narcotics Anonymous, or NA, is a 12 step program designed to help people who abuse drugs. The program follows a list of steps adapted from AA’s list, with minor changes made to more accurately take into account the variety of drugs used by members of NA. Narcotics Anonymous is an open group that can help regardless of the substance a person is struggling with. Although AA specializes in alcohol addiction, many alcoholics choose to participate in Narcotics Anonymous, as NA is designed to support any addiction.
Other 12 Step Groups
Over time, groups have used the 12 steps to help people experiencing a variety of issues beyond addiction. Examples of other 12 step programs include:
- Al-anon, for families and friends of alcoholics
- Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA)
- Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA)
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
- Love Addicts Anonymous (LAA)
- Nicotine Anonymous (NicA)
- Workaholics Anonymous (WA)
- Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
- Heroin Anonymous (HA)
12 Step Alternative Programs
While 12 step programs have proven beneficial to many people throughout history, they may not be the best option for everyone. Some people may feel uncomfortable with the religious themes of a 12 step program, although you do not need to be religious to take part in them. Others just may not feel the 12 steps are set up to benefit them. Part of treatment and recovery is doing whatever is possible to find the best possible option to fit the needs of the individual, and choosing a support group is no different.
SMART Recovery is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people overcome their addiction and substance abuse. Unlike 12 step programs, SMART recovery has no religious affiliation and accepts any who feels they need help with substance use. SMART Recovery focuses on using scientifically proven methods to help people change their lifestyle and encourage positive behavior.
SMART Recovery avoids using terms like “addict” because of the negative connotation. Instead, they focus on using coping methods to improve their members’ self-esteem and aid them in adapting to a sober lifestyle.
Refuge Recovery is an organization designed to help people in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. The foundational teachings of Refuge Recovery are based on Buddhist principles, although a person does not have to be a practicing Buddhist in order to join meetings. Major aspects of Refuge Recovery include learning coping mechanisms, meditation, and self-reflection. Refuge Recovery focuses on overcoming the urges associated with addiction, whether it be alcoholism, drug abuse, or impulse control issues.
Let Us Help You With Addiction Treatment
At Warner Park Recovery, we’re here to help individuals and families by providing exceptional addiction treatment options. We’re a dual diagnosis (mental health combined with substance abuse treatment) program that offers partial day, intensive outpatient, and traditional outpatient levels of care. We regularly treat patients from the Woodland Hills, Calabasas, Topanga Canyon, The Valley, and Thousand Oaks areas. If you are looking for help with addiction treatment, please give us a call to learn more about our professional services!