12 steps to recovery, freedom, and life without alcohol, drugs, gambling, overeating or other dependencies. 12 steps to finding a power outside yourself that will guide you through choices without the use of drugs and alcohol. 12 steps to follow when the process feels overwhelming and nearly impossible.
The 12 Steps, originally created and used by the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship, are a collection of ways to successfully move through the recovery process. In 1934, two alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, created the program as a way to keep themselves sober, and to help others do the same. The 12 Steps have been embraced by recovery communities and hundreds of support groups since its creation as a means of conquering alcoholism, drug addiction, and several other disorders (eating disorders, codependency, and various behavioral addictions, to name a few.)
The 12 Steps are used as a model in many drug and alcohol treatment facilities. With a disease model of addiction that believes that the continued use of psychoactive, addictive drugs will progress to abuse and onto addiction (leading to a disease that needs treatment) rehab centers utilize the 12 Steps as a set of tools to navigate recovery from the disease.
The 12 steps are an ongoing process that help sustain abstinence from alcohol and other drugs when committed to and constantly put into practice. The steps help identify the roots of substance abuse, and propose a method to begin healing. The causes of one’s addiction are identified, and alternative coping skills, without drugs and alcohol, are presented. 12 step recovery programs encourage an addicted person to take action toward a solution by taking action, examining past behavioral choices, and choosing to live a better life each day.
What are the 12 Steps?
The 12 Steps, listed below, are designed to be done in order. The steps can be done over and over again, and there is not a preset timeline for completion.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (and/or drugs) - 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.
The first four steps can establish a tremendous foundation for recovery.
The first step is about identifying the true problem that led to chemical dependence, breaking through denial, and being really honest with oneself. Members of the 12 Step Fellowship often believe that half the battle against addiction is admitting the problem: a powerlessness over substance use. The ability to be honest allows for a return to integrity, and to finding a solution to living without drugs and alcohol. Facing reality is so important after years of drug and alcohol abuse, often paired with other high-risk compulsive behaviors, in which time was spent running away from reality. By being truthful, many choices appear and a set of real solutions to the problem can be found and implemented.
The second step deals with finding a source of inspiration and guidance outside of oneself. Creating faith in a solution and believing that recovery is possible is vitally important to stop using substances indefinitely. Once the truth of complete powerlessness is realized, understood, and accepted, the 12 Steps steer an individual toward trust and faith in something greater than him or herself. Addicts and alcoholics try exerting self-discipline and willpower during active substance use many times, but always failed because drugs and alcohol had control. Working through the second step allows the person to regain lost control, with the help of a higher power.
Step three is about giving up control of a disease that cannot be controlled and surrendering one’s own self will to a power greater than yourself.
Step four is an important step that includes self examination and soul searching that facilitates the beginning of a clearer, more accurate, worldview.
The remaining 12 Steps focus on using that power that is greater than ourselves. Through various methods, an addicted person can make it through any day without abusing drugs and alcohol with Steps 2 through 12. With the help of one’s higher power, plus a team of trained professionals in a formal treatment program, a group of peers who are going through the process together, and a continued commitment to changing, recovery is beyond possible and it is happening every day.
Recovery Now TV has been working with 12 step recovery programs for over a decade and has successfully introduced thousands of clients to the process that helps achieve a life without drugs and alcohol. By calling Recovery Now TV today at 800-281-4731, you can access more information about 12 Step recovery programs, and can determine which program is right for you, or for someone you love.
Benefits of 12 Step Involvement
Drug abuse cost the United States an estimated $161 billion in the year 2000. The individuals who progressed to the point of abuse and addiction, and who created these high costs, were unable to stop using without help. The 12 Steps are a way to stay on a path toward recovery, one step at a time. A study from the research team at UCLA yielded results that individuals who attended a 12 step program on a regular basis were less likely to return to abusing alcohol and drugs.
Disease Model of Addiction
Addiction is a disease of the mind and body that goes beyond the physical abuse of mind-altering substances.
In 1939, William D. Silkworth, M.D. contributed to the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, by saying, “All these [alcoholics], and many others, have one symptom in common: they cannot start drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving. This phenomenon, as we have suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people and sets them apart as a distinct entity. It has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated. The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.”
The idea behind complete abstinence, meaning not using any mind-altering substances, is that the brain and body of someone with the disease of addiction cannot use in moderation. An alcoholic cannot use another psychoactive drug because the craving and desire for an escape or an ability to numb pain, will then become satisfied by prescription drugs, for example, even when alcohol is the drug of choice. The same goes for a heroin addict. The 12 Steps suggest that a heroin addict cannot take a single drink because the effects of alcohol will replace those of heroin, and increase the chance of that user returning to his or her drug of choice.
Unwavering Support System
The 12 Steps are a concrete way, with proven effectiveness, to stay committed to recovery. If one day is exceptionally hard for a person to stay substance-free, adhering to the current step and attending an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting is always available. When utilized, the 12 Step fellowship provides safety, camaraderie, understanding, and constant support.
A 54-year-old recovering alcoholic shares his story of recovery with the 12 Step Fellowship:
When I went to my first meeting, a 30-year-old beautician was running her story about how her drinking started, the pain she suffered because of it, and what happened to change her. I was a 49-year-old male with my own business, and yet her story was my story. Her reaction to alcohol was the same as mine. Her helplessness after the first drink was mine. Her denial was mine. Her divorce was mine. Her reactions to life’s problems were mine. The familiarity and the sheer power of her running her story have kept me in the group for five and a half years. In AA they say, ‘We only have our stories and all we can do is tell what worked for us to stay sober.’
How You Can Include the 12 Steps in Your Recovery
To become involved in your local 12 Step fellowship, or to enroll in a treatment program that incorporates the 12 Steps, call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731. Our team will pair you with the best rehab program for your healing, or the healing of your loved on. Call now!
Since its inception in the 1930s, 12 Step based programs have become available for every type of dependency. Not only are groups for alcoholics and drug addicts happening in every part of the United States, and of the world, but so are groups for overeaters, for people suffering from an anorexia and bulimia, for people addicted to others people (codependency), and for people addicted to behaviors like sex, gambling, watching pornography, and shopping.
Additionally, groups for those who have been affected by another person’s addiction are prevalent. Al-Anon is for family members of alcoholics and drug addicts, ACA is for Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Alateen is for teenagers with alcohol addicted relatives. Each uses a 12 step process to grieve the past, and to take steps toward one’s own healing.
A Fellowship for Everyone
Each substance and behavior has a separate fellowship, and set of meetings, to allow for greater understanding and support among members. The list below shows the options available to those seeking 12 Step involvement:
- AA - Alcoholics Anonymous
- ACA - Adult Children of Alcoholics
- Al-Anon/Alateen (for friends and families of alcoholics)
- CA - Cocaine Anonymous
- CLA - Clutterers Anonymous
- CMA - Crystal Meth Anonymous
- Co-Anon (for friends and family of addicts)
- CoDA - Co-Dependents Anonymous (for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and develop functional and healthy relationships)
- COSA - Codependents of Sex Addicts
- COSLAA - CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- DA - Debtors Anonymous
- EA - Emotions Anonymous (for recovery from mental and emotional illness)
- FA - Families Anonymous, for relatives and friends of addicts
- FA - Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
- FAA - Food Addicts Anonymous
- GA - Gamblers Anonymous
- Gam-Anon/Gam-A-Teen (for friends and family members of problem gamblers)
- HA - Heroin Anonymous
- MA - Marijuana Anonymous
- NA - Narcotics Anonymous
- NAIL - Neurotics Anonymous (for recovery from mental and emotional illness)
- Nar-Anon, for friends and family members of addicts
- NicA - Nicotine Anonymous
- OA - Overeaters Anonymous
- OLGA - Online Gamers Anonymous
- PA - Pills Anonymous (for recovery from prescription pill addiction)
- SA - Sexaholics Anonymous
- SA - Smokers Anonymous
- SAA - Sex Addicts Anonymous
- SCA - Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
- SIA - Survivors of Incest Anonymous
- SLAA - Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- UA - Underearners Anonymous
- WA - Workaholics Anonymous
While there is a fellowship for each substance and behavior, each model branches off from the 12 Steps originally created to treat alcoholics.
AA was established in 1935 and since that time the AA fellowship has helped millions of people around the world get and stay sober. AA has grown tremendously since its creation because the program “works if you work it,” an AA mantra. Along with the serenity prayer, and the 12 Steps themselves, Alcoholics Anonymous’ timeless success is based on its people. The structure of AA, where men and women come together in meetings, allows open sharing of problems, difficulties, vulnerabilities, and the ability to give and receive support. The purpose of personal sharing is to help each participant process his or her life, and to help others see that they are not alone.
For two decades before the American Medical Association identified alcoholism as a disease, Alcoholics Anonymous was treating it as such. By recognizing the progressive deterioration of the mind and body, the growing dependence upon a mind-altering substance, the withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption stopped, and the comparability to the criteria for other diseases, AA was one of the first to classify and treat alcoholism as a disease. Subsequently, Alcoholics Anonymous was the first program to bring treatment for alcoholism to the masses so that anyone seeking help could find it.
Decades later, the 12 Step model of Alcoholics Anonymous is consistently used in professional treatment centers. The Big Book is found at every meeting, and can be referenced at any point in recovery for appropriate guidance.
Whatever your situation, understand that recovery is simple, not easy. Recovery Now TV works with treatment centers designed to successfully establish a new life of abstinence from alcohol and drugs, and to help new clients ease into a new life.
Recovery Now TV for Addiction Treatment
Recovery Now TV works with fully-staffed treatment centers who employ medical doctors, psychologists, and certified addiction counselors that treat each client as an individual person with a need for healing of the mind, body or soul.
The first portion of recovery is participation in a detoxification program. With constant medical monitoring and medication management, the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms are alleviated. The goal is to rid the body of all mind-altering chemicals and toxins left from repeated substance abuse.
Following successful detox, a client can enter a formal treatment program aimed at teaching new coping skills. Through individual and group therapy, feelings of inadequacy, necessary isolation, and distrust can be attended to with support and accountability.
Recovery Now TV works toward an ongoing goal of helping each client move through the 12 Steps as completely and authentically as possible to secure a strong foundation of recovery. With years of experience pairing addicts and alcoholics with the proper treatment centers, Recovery Now TV is the best resource for you to utilize for yourself, or for someone you care about who cannot stop abusing drugs and alcohol alone.
Call Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731 to find out more. Break the cycle of addiction and save a life now!