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With more than 75 years of history and tens of millions of alcoholics and addicts helped, 12 steps programs display some pretty impressive statistics of recovery.

The overwhelming majority of drug and alcohol rehabs in America use 12 steps group meetings as a part of their recovery programming. They use them because they work, because nothing else has helped as many people, and because studies show that people who stick with a 12 steps program for the first years after rehab have a far better than average chance at staying free from addiction.

The Basic Principles of 12 Steps Based Recovery

The 12 steps don’t work unless you believe in them, work them honestly and work them with commitment. You can’t fake it, and if they don’t work for you or if you can’t believe what they’re telling you, don’t waste your time trying, the 12 steps are not going to help you.

  • You are an addict or an alcoholic for life. You can get into recovery, you never have to drink or use again, but nothing will change what you are, and you will never be able to use with moderation again.
  • You can’t do it on your own. 12 steps based recovery methods are fundamentally spiritual in nature. They may be non denominational, but to work the 12 steps you must believe in some form of higher power, must pray to this higher power to remove your weaknesses and pray for strength and guidance down the road of recovery. You don’t have to believe in a traditional "God" but you have to believe in something greater than yourself.
  • You have to make amends for your past. To work the steps you have to admit to the harms of the past, and try to make things right. No one but you will know if you do this completely, but lingering guilt and shame over past wrongs pull you back into abuse, and unless you do all in your power to make amends, the 12 steps are not going to work for you.
  • You have to believe it, and you have to spread the word. A big part of 12 steps recovery is helping others achieve sobriety after you have. You may want to become a sponsor, or you may want to help in other ways, but to work the last of the 12 steps you need to give for the rest of your life at helping others to see the light of sobriety.

12 Steps are not for Everyone

A lot of people can’t get past the spiritual tones of the message, some people find the organization vaguely cultish, and others resent being told that they are an addict or an alcoholic, and that they lack the power to control their actions for all time.

There is no point in beating a dead horse, and if it's not working for you, try something else. There are alternatives, and you have to find something that works, that resonates, and that will keep you sober when nothing else will.

But because the 12 steps of programs like AA and NA have helped so many, because they have been successful for so long and because studies show that people that get actively involved in 12 steps groups have a far better chance of long term sobriety, 12 steps recovery methods are very worth a try.

Get out to a meeting, they're free, they're everywhere and all are welcome. If you don’t like it, there is nothing forcing you to continue, but you might just find that the strength and solace of the 12 steps that have helped so many millions before you, gives you what you need to stay sober.

One day at a time, you can do it.

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Page last updated Sep 01, 2015

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