Twelve-step programs have been an integral part of addiction treatment since the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in the 1930s. Today, 12-step groups like AA, NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and Al-Anon meet throughout the world in public buildings, churches, homes, outpatient clinics, hospitals, schools and other locations. In many inpatient treatment centers, 12-step classes and meetings have become a vital component of the recovery process. The principles of 12-step recovery have helped millions of addicts and alcoholics regain their dignity, heal broken relationships and escape the deadly trap of substance abuse.
If you decide to enter inpatient treatment for alcoholism or drug abuse, you’ll have the option to choose a treatment plan that incorporates the 12 steps. While not every facility draws from this tradition, some of the most successful rehab programs are based on these guiding principles. Whether you’re already familiar with the 12-step philosophy or you’re new to this approach to recovery, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about this tradition and draw support from this fellowship in meetings and classes.
Getting to Know the 12 Steps
A significant number of addicts are introduced to the 12 steps for the first time at inpatient rehab facilities. While inpatient programs may last from 30 to 90 days, completing all 12 of the steps may require months of intensive work with a sponsor. In order to introduce recovering addicts to these principles, many programs include 12-step facilitation classes. According to the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, 12-step facilitation therapy serves a number of important functions for people in early recovery:
- It provides an introduction to the concepts and beliefs of 12-step fellowships.
- It encourages class members to accept the idea that they must abstain from drugs and alcohol in order to recover from the disease of addiction.
- It promotes the 12-step philosophy as a way to achieve and sustain sobriety.
- It teaches participants how to utilize fellowship resources when they’re at risk of a relapse.
Classes are usually offered in 12 to 15 sessions and facilitated by counselors or therapists who actively support the program. Participants may read from 12-step literature, discuss coping strategies and attend meetings as part of their treatment plan.
When you’re in rehab, building a strong support network is a crucial part of the program. This network will continue to help you maintain your sobriety after you graduate from rehab and re-enter the community. The counselors and peers you meet in 12-step rehab meetings may continue to give you emotional and moral support long after you leave the facility.
Meetings are held as part of the daily schedule at an inpatient treatment facility. A typical day might begin with chores or meditation, then continue with breakfast, followed by individual psychotherapy, family counseling or a 12-step meeting. Meetings may be open only to rehab clients and their therapists, or they may be open to family members, partners and spouses. The 12-step fellowship offers support for the loved ones of addicts in the form of Al-Anon.
Some inpatient rehab programs hold meetings that are open to the general public. These participants serve as a source of strength and inspiration by acting as models of sobriety in the community.
Studies show that participation in a 12-step program can improve your chances of remaining sober in the years after you graduate from rehab. A study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence indicated that adolescents who attended 12-step meetings as part of an inpatient rehab program were more likely to avoid relapse and remain abstinent during the five years after they completed treatment.
One of the primary goals of 12-step therapy in an inpatient setting is to encourage recovering addicts to continue to attend meetings and rely on the fellowship when they’re back in the community. Twelve-step groups extend help to their members in many ways:
- By providing practical, sober coping skills to deal with the triggers and stressors of daily life
- By connecting newcomers with seasoned members who can offer help, guidance and hope
- By helping new members find sponsors who can work with them as they complete the 12 steps
- By offering a source of spiritual strength and healing
The 12-step philosophy serves as a basis for recovery groups and treatment programs around the globe. Twelve-step groups are widely available in larger communities. In isolated areas where few meetings are held, newcomers can seek help through online meetings or telephone support lines.
At Axis, the 12 steps act as a foundation for our philosophy of care. We believe that addiction is an incurable disease that can nevertheless be managed through self-awareness, fellowship with others, behavioral modification and spiritual growth. To learn more about how these principles can help you create a happier, healthier life, call our intake number at any time.