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Understanding the 12-Step Program for Addiction Treatment


Published: July 7, 2022

The 12-step program is a set of guiding principles designed to help people recover from addiction. From alcohol and drugs to gambling and sex addictions, this spiritual program can be used to overcome any type of addiction. Understanding the 12-step program can help you or a loved one save a life. 

Importance of Seeking Treatment for Addiction

There are numerous reasons why an addict needs to seek treatment. One of the most prominent reasons is that addiction can be deadly, with over 100,000 drug overdose deaths annually. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. As a result, without proper treatment, an addict is likely to keep using drugs or alcohol even if it leads to negative repercussions like job loss, financial ruin, or physical harm. 

Another reason why treatment is crucial is that addiction can be extremely difficult to overcome on one’s own. In fact, treatment is frequently ineffective if the person does not want it or is not ready for it, which means addicts often relapse if they are unwilling to commit to overcoming their addiction.

What are the 12 Steps for Addiction Treatment?

The 12-step program was created in the 1930s by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, and since then, millions of people have used it to overcome addiction and live healthy lives. 

Step 1

The program’s first step is admitting that you have a problem and need help. This stage of acceptance can be a challenging step for many people as it requires confessing you are powerless over your addiction. However, it is a critical step that sets the foundation for recovery.

Step 2

The second step is to believe that there is a power greater than yourself that can help you overcome your addiction. This power may be God, or it could be something else you believe in, such as: 

  • Karma 
  • Laws of nature 
  • Laws of the universe 
  • Power in humanity 

Step 3

The third step is one of action and involves the decision to turn your life over to this higher power. This decision does not mean all control is in the hands of what you believe in, as each individual in recovery must recognize what’s in their own control. 

Step 4

Step four is often a time of reflection. During this time, recovering addicts are asked to take personal inventory of their life. By taking time to do this, you can take stock of your strengths and weaknesses and analyze the role addiction has played in your life. Step four can help you determine what aspects of your life need to change. 

Step 5

Once your negative behaviors have been identified, you can honestly admit to yourself, a higher power, and another person about your wrongdoings. This step requires you to be truthful about the hurt you’ve caused yourself and others due to your addiction.

Step 6

Step six is to be ready to change and release adverse behaviors. This stage means you are willing to do whatever it takes to recover from your addiction. 

Step 7 

Step seven involves asking for help from your higher power, enabling you to stay humble. This humility ensures you do not minimize the impact your harmful behavior had on others and reminds you that you don’t have willpower over your disease.

Step 8 

Step eight is to make a list of all the people you have harmed due to your addiction and become willing to make amends with them. 

Step 9

Step nine includes taking action and making direct amends to repair your social offenses. This stage may involve apologizing to someone you hurt or making financial restitution. The eighth and ninth steps are crucial to averting past destructive behaviors.

Step 10

The tenth step is to continue taking personal inventory and admitting when you are wrong. The purpose of this stage is to maintain your newfound ethics and values.

Step 11

Like step ten, the eleventh step reinforces past stages by encouraging you to seek growth in your spiritual journey. This stage will look different based on what higher power you believe in and may involve: 

  • Going to church 
  • Connecting with nature 
  • Reading religious or philosophical texts 
  • Meditation and reflection practices
  • Connecting and growing your interpersonal relationships 
  • Speaking and listening with intention
  • Praying 

The fundamental purpose of this element of recovery is to remain humble and understand that the universe and your higher power can help you where your willpower fails. 

Step 12

The twelfth and final step involves carrying the message of recovery to other addicts. This stage reinforces your own internal values and growth by holding you accountable as you externally guide others on the same path of self-improvement. You can practice step twelve by speaking at meetings or sponsoring a newly recovered addict to help them through the steps. Carrying the message that there is hope out there to other addicted individuals can help save someone’s life. 

The 12-Step Program at Rockland Treatment Center 

The 12-step program is an individual, spiritual journey that an addict must entirely commit to. This commitment can be difficult to adhere to, but millions of people have used it to overcome addiction and live healthy lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, it’s impossible to do it alone. Seek help from Rockland Treatment Center, where we can provide the tools you need to recover and support you through every step of the process. 

If you think the 12-step program may be right for you or a loved one, contact Rockland Treatment Center today. Our all-encompassing treatment involving new and traditional methods can help restore your mental and physical health.

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