An Overview of Twelve Step Programs Integrated in Addiction Treatment

12 step calendar

Over the course of the development of alcohol or drug addiction, individuals experience a comprehensive decline. In terms of health, habitual substance abuse makes individuals negligent of their bodies’ needs; this often causes addicts to look unhealthy, whether due to sudden and excessive weight loss or the result of letting serious health conditions go untreated. However, some of the most profound effects of substance abuse disorders are to one’s behavior and psychology. After developing a physical and psychological dependency on alcohol or drugs, individuals become desperate to sustain their unsustainable habits. Over time, any substance can become a major financial drain, requiring virtually all of an individual’s income to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

On an increasing basis, addicts resort to dishonesty or even criminal behavior in order to feed the unrelenting hunger of addiction, which frequently results in legal trouble and has been the reason that a number of addicts have ended up in prison. Due to the varied and profound effects that occur as a result of alcohol and drug addiction, recovery from this disease requires a variety of treatments and therapies, which are combined in the form of addiction treatment programs. The treatments that make of recovery programming address the individual symptoms of addiction and have the cumulative effect of helping addicts to overcome the disease of addiction. Since there’s not a single avenue of recovery that yields optimal results for everyone, there are a variety of treatment options available in an effort to account for a wide variety of needs.

Moreover, many individuals have had much success in recovery as a result of participating in twelve step programs, which are recovery fellowships comprised of individuals in varying stages of recovery who offer support and encouragement to one another while on the journey toward lasting recovery. As such, a number of drug rehabs are offering programming that incorporates components of the twelve step methodology. The following serves as an overview of such twelve-step-based addiction treatment, including defining what makes this type of programming unique and the ways in which it is beneficial or effective.

The Twelve Step Method

Alcoholics Anonymous is the original twelve step program and was born in 1935 of the efforts of Bill Wilson to assist a colleague in achieving sobriety while working toward achieving lasting sobriety on his own. Within just a few years, Wilson’s recovery fellowship had seen immense growth and become an essential tool for countless alcoholics who sought a way to remain sober. Wilson’s Alcoholics Anonymous was notable in that it was a fellowship that didn’t view its members as being innately bad people like many of the alternative fellowships of the time, but rather as individuals who were powerless to alcoholism. Additionally, Wilson purported that alcoholism was an individual’s search for meaning at the bottom of a bottle rather than from within, which led to the spiritual components of his twelve step methodology.

Wilson created the Twelve Steps as a sort of blueprint or road map to sobriety. Beginning with an admission of powerless to alcohol, individuals were to progress through each of the twelve sequential steps, which also saw them taking a personal moral inventory, identifying and admitting defects of character, appealing to a higher power for the ability to heal, making amends to those who were wronged over the course of an individual’s alcoholism, and helping others through the process of working the Twelve Steps. As such, Alcoholics Anonymous was created as a means of achieving physical recovery through spiritual recovery and the support of the fellowship. In the years since it’s created, the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been adapted for virtually every other addiction—drug and narcotics addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, codependency, and many others—and remained a vital part of the recovery process for many.

Incorporating the Twelve Steps Into Addiction Treatment

Traditionally, formal addiction treatment programs and twelve step programs were seen as being so methodically different as to be almost irreconcilable; while clinical treatment programs offered evidence-based therapies to overcome addiction, recovery support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and its numerous sister groups were seen as being merely a viable supplement or aftercare tool. However, the sheer numbers of individuals who suffered from addiction only until completing the Twelve Steps suggest that there’s something about the twelve step method that’s been very effective. As such, many addiction treatment programs have incorporated twelve step programming into more clinical treatment programming as a way to offer the best of both worlds.

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 How Twelve Step-Based Addiction Treatment is Beneficial

In order to understand what makes twelve-step-based addiction treatment programs an ideal combination of the two methodologies, one must be aware of how the two approaches are combined. It’s often said that the greatest benefits of participating in twelve-step programs are the strong support network they can offer and as well as the inherent attention to individuals’ spiritual needs. Twelve step programs bring together groups of individuals with similar backgrounds and common goals, which are to remain sober through abstinence and to help other addicts to achieve the same thing. Clinical recovery programs offer the counseling and psychotherapy that’s essential in understanding the variables that lead to an individual’s development of alcohol or drug addiction; meanwhile, the program helps him or her to learn ways of remaining sober through relapse prevention and participation in various supplemental and complementary treatments. In short, incorporating the twelve step method into clinical programming affords the best of both worlds.

It’s often suggested that individuals participate in twelve step groups as a means of sustaining their sobriety after completing a treatment program. However, by incorporating components of twelve step programs—meetings, spiritual healing, the Twelve Steps—into an addiction treatment program, individuals become more likely to continue those practices after completing the program. Moreover, recovery programs that integrate the twelve step method tend to have a much greater focus on self-acceptance and fostering an understanding of one’s powerlessness to the disease of addiction. These programs also have a stronger spiritual component, which can entail the strengthening of one’s faith or even just becoming more committed to the concept of fellowship and supporting other addicts in their recoveries. According to preliminary findings, individuals who have received treatment in programs that integrate the twelve step method have felt that this type of programming can offer a more comprehensive recovery than programs that don’t incorporate the twelve step method.

Explore Your Recovery Options with Recovery Hub

Since there are many ways to become addicted to alcohol and drugs, it would follow that there are many ways to overcome that addiction. Addiction treatment programs that incorporate aspects of twelve step programming are just one type of treatment that’s shown to be effective for many individuals. If you or someone you know if suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about recovery, call Recovery Hub today at 888-220-4352. We have a team of experienced recovery specialists available to help you or your loved one find the programming that will yield a life of sobriety, health, and fulfillment.

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