What is 12-Step Recovery?
It’s challenging to break a habit that’s as tough to overcome as drug or alcohol addiction. You need a professionally developed plan for recovery administered by highly trained addiction specialists who can offer you a variety of modalities that will best suit your physical, psychological and emotional needs.
In addition to a well-structured treatment plan, you’ll also find that having the support of others as you work toward your recovery goals and throughout your life of sobriety helps immensely.
There are various types of 12-Step Recovery programs that help people overcome addiction and other compulsions and work toward their goals. Each program works a bit differently, with the main objectives being to lend support, compassion and assistance to people who share similar experiences with addictive disorders.
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What are the 12 Steps?
- We admitted we were powerless over our addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
- We 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.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We 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 addicts/alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
How Does 12-Step Recovery Work?
All of the 12-Step Recovery Programs currently available are based on the first such program, Alcoholics Anonymous, which was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith to help people with alcoholism find sobriety. The program was inspired by spiritual ideals, but not every 12-Step program has a religious component to it.
One of the traditions of 12-Step Programs is that the members remain somewhat anonymous. Only first names are typically used to introduce yourself at meetings. People come together at meetings to share their personal experiences as they work on completing the steps.
The 12 steps are principles of recovery that outline each program and help foster positive change in yourself and your beliefs. Working through the 12 steps of recovery helps members become stronger and find the support needed to conquer cravings, it also provides accountability for your past and present actions.
When you enter a 12-Step Recovery program, you are expected to follow the steps completely and in the correct sequential order. Some steps may be more difficult to follow than others, but they are all vital to your long-term recovery.
You can achieve each step at your own speed, with the help of a sponsor, another member of the support group who is there for you, one-on-one, when you require his or her personal support at any time.
There are 12 steps in each recovery program. When put all together, the steps help you to publicly acknowledge your addiction, become more aware and process your experiences along with the group and to move ahead forging new healthier patterns of living.
These recovery programs help you:
- Surrender to the fact that you have an addiction
- Find guidance with the help of others
- Become much more aware of your behaviors related to addiction
- Build self-esteem
- Practice self-restraint
- Accept yourself and your ability to change
- Have compassion for others struggling with addiction
- Learn how to live in recovery throughout your life
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Benefits of 12-Step Programs
Recovery programs that involve the 12 Steps have been in existence for decades now, and these groups have helped a countless number of people achieve and maintain their sobriety.
Even when you enter an addiction treatment program that provides evidence-based therapeutic treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavioral therapy, group therapy, medications and other holistic modalities, it’s still to your advantage to participate in a 12-Step Recovery Program.
Some of the benefits you’ll obtain from being in a 12-Step Program include:
Being part of a sober community.
- Knowing that everyone participating in the program is there for the same reason, to remain sober, provides you with a strong sober network of people who can support one another in recovery.
- It’s possible that your friends from the past are still abusing substances, so it’s dangerous to continue socializing with them as it may set your recovery back. It’s also hard to meet new people, and you can’t be sure you’ll make new friends with people who are sober, yet the participants in a 12-Step group are there for the same reasons you are.
- It will feel good to be socially active with people who share your recovery goals and can help you when you feel a temptation to use again.
There’s a 12-Step meeting just about everywhere you go.
- It’s usually pretty easy to find a meeting to attend, even if you’re out of town in a strange city. Most 12-Step programs have meetings in every town, often more than one going on at different times of the day or night. It’s convenient and you can fit a meeting in whenever and wherever you need to.
Meetings help you remain committed to your recovery.
- Attending meetings on a regular basis is a great way to remind yourself of your commitment to sobriety, the tough lessons you’ve learned along the way and why holding onto your sober lifestyle is so important.
Structure keeps you on the recovery track.
- When you’re in recovery, especially just after completing a rehab program, having unstructured time on your hands can be a recipe for disaster. You can start to have cravings for substances when you become bored or isolated. It’s important to know you have to be somewhere on a certain day, at a particular time, to be with others who support you and keep you grounded.
Helping other people feels good.
- It’s about you, and yet it’s not all about you. Participating in a 12-Step Recovery Program gives you a chance to help yourself while you help other people. As you focus on others’ problems with addiction, you will think less about your own issues and reach out to be of service to your peers.
12-Step Recovery vs. SMART Recovery
The SMART acronym in SMART Recovery stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. It’s a recovery program that supports people by helping them control their behaviors related to addiction.
SMART Recovery is a newer alternative to 12-Step programs that takes a different approach to recovery. It is a group program that’s run by volunteers. They help participants use the latest evidence-based findings and treatments to overcome addiction.
12-Step Recovery Programs promote abstinence from substance use by encouraging participants to follow the 12 guiding principles of the program that often have ties to a higher power and promote a fellowship of support, all of which will guide you towards continued sobriety.
SMART Recovery Programs take a four-point approach to helping people reach their goals, teaching participants how to:
1. Remain motivated to stay sober
2. Deal with urges and cravings
3. Manage negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors
4. Balance the temporary and lasting satisfaction that goes along with living life in recovery
Here are some of the other main differences between the two types of programs:
12-Steps: Focuses on acceptance and guidance from an external higher power
SMART: Focuses on self-empowerment, courage, guidance from within
12-Steps: Based on spiritually based principles and 12 step models
SMART: Is evidence-based, using a wide range of interventions
12-Steps: Characterizes addiction as a chronic disease needing ongoing treatment
SMART: Believes that addiction is behavior that can be changed and overcome
12-Steps: Finding a personal sponsor to help you maintain sobriety is vital
SMART: Instead of a sponsor, it’s more important to take part in every aspect of the program publically. It’s also recommended that you get individual psychotherapy or also attend 12-Step meetings if you think a sponsor will be helpful to you.
12-Steps: Sharing your stories and struggles with others, one at a time, is part of the process
SMART: Meetings are conducted as group discussions
12-Steps: Acknowledging your addiction and putting a label on your status is important, i.e., “Hi, my name is John and I’m an alcoholic.”
SMART: Labeling oneself places an undesirable stigma on yourself and is not allowed.
12-Steps: Recovery and participation in the 12 steps lasts a lifetime.
SMART: It’s believed that a person, once enough progress is made, leaves SMART Recovery and is recovered for life.
12-Step Recovery at Resurgence Behavioral Health
At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we offer both 12-Step Recovery Programs and SMART Recovery support. The community and support you’ll need and which one is right for you can be determined while you’re undergoing rehab treatment with us.
We are here to guide you and help you make the best choice for your continued recovery.