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Reasons Behind the Success of 12-Step Recovery Groups

One of the most widely recognized treatment methods for substance abuse recovery is the 12-Step model. It’s likely one of the first treatment methods mentioned by addiction specialists, beyond the more immediate medical help. With a long history of practice within the United States and beyond, 12-Step programs help thousands of people every year make meaningful connections in their community and overcome the effects of addiction.

At Enlightened Solutions, we take an open-minded approach to the 12-Step model while still holding to the philosophy’s central purpose: Namely, that the issue of addiction can become too much for one person to tackle on their own. With any treatment method provided at our facility, clients will learn about the 12-Step model and philosophy.

What the Twelve Steps Accomplish in Recovery

The Twelve Steps serve as guidelines for understanding the reasons behind addiction and understanding the limited power to control it on your own. The Twelve Steps encourage asking for help and relying on a community in order to get well. They also encourage reliance on a higher power that is not specific to any particular religion, which is the type of spirituality that Enlightened Recovery promotes.

Twelve Steps Teachings

Just what do these highly successful Twelve Steps teach, exactly? Let’s examine the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

#1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

This is one of the hardest steps to admit, either silently or out loud. However, if addiction were within our control, we wouldn’t be present at treatment in the first place.

#2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In addition to requiring community in order to get sober, this step goes further and suggests that a higher power is needed in addition to other humans.

#3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Part of getting well means recognizing human limitations and putting our trust in that higher power.

#4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Self-awareness is another vital part of recovery. This can be taught in a group setting as well as individually with a counselor guiding the process of reflection.

#5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

In order to repair and rebuild our relationship with ourselves and with others, we must acknowledge the ways we caused harm, directly or indirectly.

#6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

We can let go of the pressure to overcome our struggles on our own and let a higher power guide us.

#7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings

To be human is to be valued, but also flawed. Belief in a higher power enables us to become the best possible version of ourselves – our sober, recovered selves.

#8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

As we come to terms with the extent of addiction, we begin to understand that our actions have consequences. We can’t control whether others forgive us, but we can take the necessary steps to salvage the relationships that we can.

#9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.

With this step, it’s important to acknowledge that not every relationship can be restored. In some situations, it may be best not to initiate contact with certain people from our past. The therapy setting can help us figure out when that may be necessary.

#10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Regularly “checking in” with ourselves helps us remain accountable and faithful to the goals we make in recovery.

#11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Living with addiction can make us feel aimless and lost. As we move forward in recovery, we develop a stronger purpose in life.

#12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

This final step is an invitation to go out and live in recovery, sharing the lessons you learned with others.

What Makes 12-Step Programs So Successful

While the 12-Step model may not be ideal for everyone, it nonetheless enjoys a high success rate among people struggling with addiction. Part of this success is owed to the no-holds-barred approach to “inconvenient truths” – that people cannot conquer addiction on their own, and that they must do some work to improve their lives. These are not popular messages, but when shared in a therapeutic setting, they become helpful “game changers” that motivate rather than tear down.

People struggling with addiction do not need to be chastised for the choices that brought them to treatment in the first place; they do enough of that on their own. But recognizing their limitations is the first stage toward making steps in the right direction. The 12-Step model prioritizes community, abstinence, acceptance, and a commitment to self-improvement. The steps are organized in bite-sized pieces so that this improvement does not feel terribly overwhelming, and are completed with a like-minded group to encourage and support along the way.

Admitting you need help is one of the hardest parts of addiction recovery. But with the right support and encouragement, it can only get better from there. Enlightened Solutions offers holistic treatment methods, including 12-Step programs, to help people overcome the effects of substance abuse and go on to live full, healthy lives. We have had the privilege of helping many people do just that, and you can be one of them. If you’re struggling with substance abuse addiction, it’s okay to admit you can’t do it on your own. Call Enlightened Solutions today at (833) 801-LIVE and speak with a member of our staff to learn which treatment method is right for you. 

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