Since the 1930’s Alcohol Anonymous has been helping people live their lives clean from alcohol all over the United States. There has since been much debate over the effectiveness of 12 step programs like AA as a reliable option for recovery. According to the AA website, they have over 115 thousand groups that meet regularly with an estimation of over 2 million worldwide members. With this many groups and members, something has to be working.
12 step programs should be seen as support groups and not actual treatment. These programs are operated by addicts in recovery and are available to anyone who wants to quit using drugs or alcohol. For some, 12 step programs are the reason they are still alive today, and for others it doesn’t work out, or is simply not a good fit for them. AA and other 12 step support groups are usually free to join, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
At the very least, 12 step programs:
- Promote sobriety
- Provide a place for addicts to meet and discuss their addiction, and recovery
- Provide a safe haven for addicts when they feel an urge to use
- Shows addicts a template for their recovery (the steps).
12 step programs like AA, were made to help addicts accept their addiction and the consequences of their addiction, and to help addicts work on becoming a better person. AA and other 12 step programs are a great resource for any addict who wants to stay clean.
How the 12 step programs work
The 12 steps were founded by the AA creators and have transcended time as they are still relevant today and for other addictions besides alcohol as well. Each step is to be carefully completed before moving to the next.
Here is a list of the 12 steps
12 Steps of Recovery
*It is important to know that the word high power does not mean any type of God. A well ran 12 step program should not force you to believe in any type of religion. They should promote being open minded to letting anyone view their higher power as whatever it may be to them.
What is a Sponsor, is it Important?
Yes, especially in early recovery! A sponsor is someone who has been in the program for a while and can help you work the steps and live sober. Even in early recovery it is important to have a sponsor as someone you can call if you really need to. They call this a temporary sponsor until you have been around the program long enough to who would make a good fit as your sponsor.
When deciding on the right sponsor you should:
- Be sure that he or she has established clean time.
- Have they sponsored somebody before?
- Make sure he is an active member in the program.
- Sponsor should be of the same sex.
- Will they be available to you (sponsoring too many people).
Once you feel you have found a good sponsor and are comfortable in your meetings you can begin the journey of working your steps. When eventually completed, you restart and do them again. It can take multiple years to finish the steps and a lot can change in that time period. There are many great organizations that specialize in helping people find sponsors and live sober.
12 Step Programs Available to you
In early recovery if you have an urge to use then any meeting will do. When you are new to living sober and have a craving to use, the best place to go is a meeting where you can vent your frustration, listen to others and be around like-minded people. Fortunately, more 12 step programs have been created to address other addictions. They have even created drug specific 12 steps programs as well.
Here is a list of other 12 step programs that are available:
- Narcotics Anonymous
- Cocaine Anonymous
- Heroin Anonymous
- Nicotine Anonymous
- Spenders Anonymous – Shopping addictions
- Codependent Anonymous – For those living with addicts
- Food Addicts Anonymous
- Gamblers Anonymous
12 Step Programs in Treatment
Since these support groups have been helpful in the past, a lot of drug and alcohol treatment facilities will hold meetings for their patients during their rehab stay. The idea of this is to get them familiar with how meetings are ran, what will be discussed, and to show the patients how helpful meetings can be.