Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has become synonymous with alcohol addiction recovery. Several groups and organizations worldwide adapt their principles–Discovery Point retreat included!
These principles, known as the 12-steps to alcohol recovery, are commonly used to tackle multiple types of addiction whether it’s gambling, drugs, or alcohol.
A Brief History On the 12-Step Program
The 12-steps have been around for many decades. It dates as far back as the 20th century and can be traced to a religious movement called the Oxford Group. Their mission was to improve the concept of self by confessing wrongdoings, making amends, and embracing prayer and meditation. They would then carry the message to others who could benefit from it.
In 1935, Bill Wilson tried the program and documented his experience with and perspective of alcoholism. Wilson focused on the good transpiring while people struggling with alcoholism shared their stories with one another.
After successfully completing the program and becoming sober, he eventually put his thoughts into a book called The Big Book, published in 1939. This is the framework from where the 12-steps evolved.
The 12-step modality has seen exponential growth since then.
Why Is the 12-step Program So Ubiquitous and Does It Actually Work?
Millions of Americans battling alcohol addiction who have undergone the 12-step program, attests to its efficacy in the pursuit of long-term sobriety. The 12-steps are colloquially associated with the treatment of alcohol addiction, a self discovery journey, and a connection (or reconnection) with a higher power.
Many lacking psychoeducation begin their journey to sobriety in the 12-steps. Tackling addiction head-on with only twelve step groups is not evidence based addiction treatment.
However, comprehensive addiction treatment surrounding the 12-step principles, cognitive behavioral therapy, and pharmacology boast impressive rates of recovery.
What Is the Focus of the 12-Step Program?
The 12 steps to alcohol recovery comprise spiritual principles addressing the psychology, values, and spirituality of an individual with alcohol addiction. The premise of the program is that alcoholism is a disease that can be managed when clients adopt the right principles.
Participants reconcile with their past by admitting to past mistakes and seeking the forgiveness of those they’ve hurt where possible. 12-step groups are a safe place for clients and therapists to work together. In a traditional 12-step program members sit in a circle and share their struggles with alcohol addiction.
During recovery treatment clients are afforded a safe space to explore traumatic feelings and experiences who are also battling alcohol addiction. Clients share pains, joy, losses, and wins on the journey to sobriety. One of the strongest aspects of the 12-steps is teaching clients how to bond with others and reacclimate to social interaction.
The 12 steps to alcohol recovery are founded on spiritual principles and the significance of God being at the center of the recovery process. However, over the years, groups have shifted the focus on Christianity and made ‘God’ open to the interpretation of each individual. The aim is to provide a path that leads to long-term sobriety and a healthier lifestyle.
Multiple 12 step programs exist for various purposes. The nuances between these programs address addiction or compulsive behaviors.
The 12 Steps to Alcohol Recovery
Below you’ll find the 12 steps of recovery from alcohol addiction commonly used throughout the world in varied meetings and treatment centers.
- Admit powerlessness over alcohol—that life is unmanageable.
- Believe a power greater than ourselves will restore sanity.
- Made a decision to turn over one’s will and life over to the care of God as he/she is understood
- Commit to a searching and fearless moral inventory of self.
- Admit to God, to oneself, and to another human being the exact nature of wrong doings.
- Readiness to have God remove all character defects..
- Humbly ask God to remove shortcomings.
- Make a list of all persons harmed, and be willing to make amends to them all.
- Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continue taking personal inventory, admitting to wrongs promptly.
- Pray for the will of God as s/he is understood; continually improve conscious contact with God. Actively pray for knowledge of Her/His will for oneself and the power to carry out that destiny.
- Carry these principles to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12-Steps In Action
At our Discovery Point Retreat facility, we combine cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with the spiritual principles of the 12 steps to help clients recover from addiction.
Clients learn the 12-step principles and apply them in the most practical way possible.
For instance, admitting weaknesses to others psychologically prepares clients to regard one’s alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a legitimate disease in need of professional treatment.
Likewise, by making direct amends with people (step nine), one becomes aware of how choices and previous mistakes have negatively affected friends, family members, and others.
Throughout treatment clients surrender to a higher being and commit to living a life free of addiction. By the end of the process, clients find forgiveness, a deeper sense of purpose, and self-love.
Clients often build a circle of support they can turn to during hard times and alcohol cravings. Not only are clients receiving peer support, they also extend helping hands to others who need it.
The 12 steps navigate clients through triggers and stress through transitioning to independent living.
The good news?
Innumerable 12-step programs are available throughout the nation, offering support long after one’s professional treatment is complete.
Sign up for AA!
Do The 12 Steps Actually Work?
A Stanford researcher discovered AA meetings founded on the 12 steps can help more people achieve sobriety than therapy. He came to this conclusion by evaluating 35 studies that comprised the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants.
The 12 steps are effective because of its heavy emphasis on social interaction. Surrounding clients with people who have similar goals – facilitates positive behavior changes and increases one chances of sobriety.
The Benefits of a 12 Steps Alcohol Recovery Plan
- Greater likelihood of abstinence
- Accountability partners
- Better treatment outcomes
- Positive social relationships
- Structured environment
How Do I Know I Need a 12 Step Program?
While binge or heavy drinking isn’t necessarily indicative of an alcohol abuse disorder, one benefits from the 12-steps program to alleviate substance abuse before one develops a full-blown addiction use disorder.
The program helps clients accept that a life of sobriety isn’t something that can be achieved alone.
If you, or a loved one, or client has an alcohol use disorder, the 12-steps are needed.
These programs are suitable for people with an alcohol addiction problem. A received a formal of AUD or noticeable, dramatic changes in one’s alcohol consumption and behavior patterns are an indication of the necessity of professional help for alcohol abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of an Alcohol Use Disorder
When one has an alcohol addiction, multiple telltale signs will begin to surface. Some signs indicating treatment necessity include:
- Consuming alcohol frequently
- Increased tolerance
- Negative effects on career and personal life
- Drinking more than planned
- Not being able to quit drinking
- Hiding alcohol when drinking
- Drinking at inappropriate times
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop
- Spending more time with heavy drinkers
- Continuing to drink despite feeling depressed or anxious
- Getting into legal issues because of drinking
A wide range of phrases relate to alcohol addiction. Some include alcohol abuse, alcoholism, alcohol dependency, and an alcohol abuse disorder. While there are nuances between all of these terminologies, they do not carry the same meanings.
Alcohol abuse is the precursor to alcohol addiction.
When you have AUD, it can become progressively worse if left untreated. Not only do 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, but it can also have detrimental effects on your health. Some potential effects on your body are liver inflammations, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and a weaker immune system.