Three Reasons 12-Step Programmes Work

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    Aug 05, 2014
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Three Reasons 12-Step Programmes Work Photo by Colin Armstrong

When the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous developed their 12-step programme back in the 1930s they probably had no idea how popular their unique approach to alcoholism would become. Within just a few short years alcohol rehab clinics all over the US began implementing the 12-step strategy. By the 1950s, the programme was being used for drug addiction as well.

Today the 12-step approach is a mainstay of alcohol and drug rehab clinics around the world. Moreover, while the approach does not work for everyone, it does work well for large numbers of recovering addicts. Here are the top three reasons this recovery programme works so well for so many people:

1. It Addresses the Spiritual Component

Whether or not we agree that the spiritual side of man includes the necessity of religion, most of us would agree that man is a being with three parts: body, mind, and spirit. The original Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step strategy was built around the idea that recovering alcoholics need to address spiritual side of man just as much as the physical and mental. Proponents of the 12-step programme still believe that today.

Some rehab centers approach the spiritual component in terms of a specific religious influence. Others are more generic in that they allow recovering addicts to address the spiritual in whatever way they know how. The point here is that addressing the spiritual component facilitates treating the whole individual, not just the mind and body.

2. It Demands Personal Responsibility

The biggest failure of progressive drug and alcohol treatment methodologies is that they do not demand personal responsibility from recovering addicts. That is a mistake. The truth is that no addict can ever fully recover until he is willing to take ownership of his own thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Demanding personal responsibility is one of the strengths of the 12-step strategy. No participant is able to blame external circumstances or other people for the condition he finds himself in. The individual must take responsibility for his choices; he must take responsibility for his recovery.

3. It Takes Advantage of the Group Dynamic

A staple of the 12-step recovery programme is the support group. Decades of alcohol and drug treatment have shown that the group dynamic is a very powerful motivator toward recovery. Support group participation provides mutual encouragement, goal setting and, most importantly, accountability. Even rehab programmes not integrating 12-step work in their recovery strategy still use group counselling and support for treatment purposes.

As previously mentioned, 12-step recovery does not work for everyone. And that's fine. There are other drug and alcohol treatment strategies better suited to those individuals. However, among recovering addicts that do benefit, the 12-step recovery programme might be the key to completely and permanently overcoming substance abuse or addiction.

Author's Profile

As an organisation providing counselling and referral services, seeks to connect addicts and their families with alcohol and drug rehab clinics. They can provide referrals to rehab centers in the UK and abroad and, when necessary, help with admission arrangements.

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