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Addiction Recovery and Treatment

12 Step Programs Overview

One of the most commonly used programs to treat addiction is the 12 Step Program. It started in the 1930s when Alcoholics Anonymous—the well-known group that continues to help those with alcohol addiction— utilized the 12 steps in order to free members from the grip of alcoholism. Now, the 12 Step Program is used not only for those dealing with alcohol addiction but for those suffering from drug addiction and other dysfunctional behaviors as well.

As you may have guessed, the 12 Step Program aimed to rehabilitate those dealing with addiction following 12 steps. These steps are as follows:


Step 1: The person admits that he is powerless over his addiction and that his life had become unmanageable because of it.

Step 2: The person came to believe that a Power greater than himself could restore him to sanity.

Step 3: The person made a decision to turn his will and his life over to the care of God as he understood God.

Step 4: The person made a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself.

Step 5: The person admitted to God, to himself and to another human being the exact nature of his wrongs.

Step 6: The person becomes entirely ready to let God remove all these character defects.

Step 7: The person humbly asked God to remove his shortcomings.

Step 8: The person made a list of all persons he had harmed and became willing to make amends with them.

Step 9: The person made direct amends to the people they had hurt when possible unless doing so would hurt them or others.

Step 10: The person continued to take personal inventory and when he was wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: The person sought through prayer and meditation to improve his conscious contact with God as he understood God, praying to know what God’s will is for him and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: The person is having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps and will try to bring the message to other addicts while practicing these principles in his affairs.


In addition to the 12 steps, the Alcoholics Anonymous program was also guided by 12 Traditions. It basically details the rules that the group will abide by. One of the traditions is that for anyone to become a member, the only requirement is the desire to stop drinking. The tradition also guarantees anonymity for all members even at the level of press, radio and films. Anonymity also enables AA members to become humble, to put principles before personalities and to be thankful to God.

In drug rehabilitation programs offered at residential treatment centers, the 12 Step Program typically follows a schedule that starts with breakfast followed by a 12 Step meeting. The individual counseling sessions usually follow before lunch is served. After lunch, an addiction and recovery speaker takes the floor. When the session is done, the participants are allowed some study time. Dinner follows and afterwards, the evening 12 Step meeting is held. They are given some free time after the meeting before the facility calls lights out.

The length of time that one has been in a 12 Step Program will matter on what the results achieved are. Those who participate in the program for less than 28 days have a higher chance of going into relapse than those who entered the program for a minimum of three months. The best results were seen in those who went into long-term treatment lasting three months to one year with the 12 Step Program.

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