As indicated by the name, 12-step programs include 12 unique steps. This philosophy takes into account that addiction is a very complex brain disorder that affects all aspects of the afflicted individuals. . It affects them physically, emotionally, socially, financially, behaviorally, and personally. This program also recognizes that addiction affects the loved ones of the user.
Participants are encouraged to work their way through each step. Once abusers successfully complete each of the 12 steps, their goal is to maintain a lifetime of sobriety. The steps are intended to offer a spiritual awakening, of sorts. Those who complete them are then encouraged to support others who are afflicted.
The 12 steps in the program have been the same since AA was first introduced. They are:
- The admission that an addict has no power of his or her addiction and that his or her life has become impossible to manage because of addiction.
- The acceptance of a power that is greater than oneself, and that the acceptance of a higher power will help the addict restore sanity in his or her life.
- The agreement to turn life over to the higher power that has been accepted.
- Taking a moral inventory of oneself, which is meant to be fearless, searching, and comprehensive
- The admission of wrongdoings to oneself and to a higher power
- Giving the higher power the permission to remove defects of character that have resulted in addiction
- Pleading with a higher power to remove his or her shortcomings
- Determining who the addict has done wrong by because of his or her addiction and become willing to make amends with those individuals
- Making direct amends with those who the addict has committed wrongdoings against; but, only when it is harmless to make such amends
- The continuation of completing personal inventories; seeking accountability for one’s actions on a daily basis. The idea is that recovery is a lifelong process and addicts must continue to examine how their actions, thoughts, words, and behaviors impact their lives and the lives of others on a daily basis.
- Developing a greater connection with a higher power through prayer and meditation
- The experience of a spiritual awakening and carrying out the message of this awakening and sobriety to others who are also afflicted.
Those who use a 12-step treatment guide each other through the process. Newcomers to treatment are “sponsored” by other members that are farther along in the 12-step journey. The road to sobriety can be challenging; particularly in the beginning stages. Sponsors are committed to helping those they are sponsoring make their way through the 12 steps.
The 12-step treatment program also introduces another element known as Traditions. Traditions are the rules that govern a group and help them to resolve any conflicts that may arise within it. For example, an individual’s recovery is reliant on the connection of the group, as well as with his or her connection with God as the supreme authority.
The only obligations necessary for someone to take part in AA or NA are to have the desire to stop abusing alcohol or drugs, and become sober. Those who take part in a 12-step program have the right to remain completely anonymous.