After you go through detox from a drug, it is helpful to engage in counseling and to be a part of a 12-step drug rehab program to help you stay abstinent from the drug. Otherwise, if you don’t learn new coping skills and have a source of social support, it is often easier to relapse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that 12-step programs follow the belief that there is no cure to addiction and that it is an ongoing and recurring disorder. Because of this, the Institute notes that ongoing recovery is needed. Twelve-step groups can help with that, especially after treatment and counseling has ended.
These 12-step drug rehab programs are considered self-help groups. They include a set of 12 guidelines a person can follow on their own, as well as a support group for the members to help each other overcome addiction and facilitate recovery. The steps are based on complete abstinence from the drug.
The 12 steps were started by the Alcoholics Anonymous group in 1935 as a way to combat alcoholism. As the name suggests, this groups focuses on alcohol; although people on other drugs had similar experiences, they didn’t quite fit into Alcoholics Anonymous. If you have an addiction to cocaine or narcotics, it wouldn’t really help you to hear about alcohol, or to not be able to share your own experiences.
These groups give those overcoming addictions support systems to help them through the process. They include other people who are going through or have gone through the same type of experiences, so they can help each other. This type of program is often beneficial during the recovery process.
Most of the Anonymous groups prefer to focus on one specific drug, which is why there are so many separate groups. However, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) welcomes people with any type of drug addiction, which is beneficial because many people have dependency problems with more than one specific type of drug. Because of this, this group has higher attendance than the other drug-specific groups.
The 12 Steps
The original 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous are basically 12 ideas to follow to help you abstain from alcohol. The main ideas include:
- Realizing that alcohol has taken control of your life
- Realizing your wrongs, taking responsibility for them and trying to change them and apologize for them
- Trying to find help in God, which can mean whatever you believe God to be
- Having faith that God can help you change, and allowing that change to take place
- Spreading these ideas to every part of your life and sharing them with others
Although the 12 steps include God, they are not actually a part of any church, and you do not have to join a church to practice them. If you would prefer to practice the 12 steps through a church, some churches have adapted them. Nonetheless, you can also find groups that practice them at non-religious places.
For 12-step groups aside from Alcoholics Anonymous, these steps basically stay the same. They are simply adapted to fit the specific drug or other problem associated with each group. For example, the steps are changed to replace alcohol with cocaine, crystal meth or another drug or problem.
Do 12-Step Programs Work?
A couple of studies have supported the idea that 12-step programs have some benefit:
A 2008 article in Recent Developments in Alcoholism found that many people drop out of these programs, although many also return. The researchers thought this pattern might coincide with treatment sessions in revolving door treatment. The study found that when a 12-step program was located in outpatient treatment, more people attended and continued with the program. Those who continued to attend the program were more likely to stay abstinent.
A June 2004 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that 12-step programs were beneficial for people who had both an addiction and a psychiatric disorder. This was a long-term study that found that ongoing participation in these groups showed the best results. This is especially true because it can be easy to relapse, especially from certain triggers, so it’s helpful to have a support group to depend on during these difficult times. The study explains that many dual diagnosis patients have more trouble creating effective coping abilities to get over addiction, so they might need this type of group even more to help them cope. Even the companionship of the group can help, since loneliness can be a trigger for going back to alcohol or drug use.
Is a 12-Step Program a Good Choice for Me?
If you or a loved one is looking into a 12-step program to help you with a drug or alcohol addiction, asking a few questions can help you decide:
- Am I looking for treatment or help with recovery?
- Do I need some support from others to help me with my addiction?
- Have I ever relapsed and gone back to my addiction?
- Have I kept using drugs even though they cause negative problems in my life, such as work problems, health issues and family issues?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, a 12-step program might be beneficial for you. If you are looking for more information on this type of program, need help finding one in your area, or need assistance deciding if this is the right choice for you, contact us today.
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