12-Step Program

Benefits of 12-Step Integration Program

Benefits of 12-Step Integration Program

Learn more about what the 12-Step program is, how they work, and how the program may prove beneficial to a person’s recovery.

What is the 12-Step Program?

Most people have probably heard of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. There are a lot of different versions of a 12-Step program, but most of them adhere to a similar set of basic principles and steps – adapted slightly for the differences between different drugs and alcohol and different kinds of people.

12-Step programs are incredibly popular as social support networks that are community-driven, and readily available to almost everyone.
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Here's what you need to know about 12-Step programs, how they work, and their effectiveness.

12-Step Program

History Of The 12-Step Program

12-Step programs started back in the 1930s and have been used ever since. These programs are often used as an addition to formal treatment programs, or to get community support and understanding after treatment.

Alcoholics Anonymous, the first and most well-known 12-Step program, was founded by Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. Smith first helped Wilson overcome his alcohol use disorder, and then they worked together to create a group that could help others.
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Six Phases of Recovery

All 12-Step programs follow the same basic steps, which break down into 6 phases of recovery:

  • Stopping drinking/using/indulging in harmful behaviors
  • Going to meetings for support
  • Asking for help 
  • Getting a sponsor for specific support
  • Joining groups within the program (can be formal groups or informal social circles)
  • Becoming active within the community

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Evolution Of 12 Step Program

You might have noticed that we used condition instead of alcohol use disorder, even though the 12-Step programs were originally created to help people with alcohol use disorder. This is because the same twelve steps have been adapted to help people with a range of conditions, from other substance use disorders to various mental health disorders.

Today, there are 12-Step programs, or programs modeled off the 12-Step framework, for just about every mental health disorder, substance use disorder, or common social problem.

Purpose Of 12 Step Programs

The goal of 12-Step programs is a little more complicated than just helping people overcome addiction or cope with mental health disorders.

Instead, think of 12-Step programs as a framework for developing self-awareness, healthy coping mechanisms, and a supportive social group that understands your experience and can offer situationally appropriate care. Because program participation is voluntary, people are free to come and go as needed. However, many people find that they are most successful, and most able to recover, with ongoing participation.

What Are The 12 Steps? 

Understanding the steps in a 12-Step program and the differences between the 12-Steps and the 12 Traditions is critical to success in 12-Step programs.

The twelve steps of the 12-Step program are:

  • Admitting that you are powerless over your condition. 
  • Believing that a power greater than you can help. 
  • Turning your will/life over to that higher power. 
  • Making a moral inventory of yourself. 
  • Admitting to yourself and your higher power the nature of your wrongs. 
  • Readying yourself for the higher power to remove character flaws. 
  • Asking the higher power to remove your shortcomings. 
  • Making a list of people you have wronged, and to whom you can make amends. 
  • Making amends. 
  • Continuing your personal inventory of morals and admitting when you are wrong. 
  • Asking for knowledge of your higher power’s will and the strength to do it. 
  • Carrying this message to others with your condition. 

Are the 12 Steps Religiously Based?

You might have noticed that a lot of these steps seem religiously affiliated, but they don’t have to be. While religion is a powerful motivator for many people in 12-Step programs, other people's 'higher power' refers to the treatment program itself instead of a God or religious practice.

How Does The Twelve Steps Model Work? 

12-Step programs face a lot of scrutiny, in part because they are informal social support networks and aren't necessarily grounded in the science and practices used by modern therapists and psychologists. However, a recent analysis by the Stanford School of Medicine, suggests that AA might be the most effective intervention for alcohol use disorder we currently have.3

Alcoholics Anonymous themselves report a success rate as high as 70%, and the primary difference seems to be whether you’re looking at everyone who has gone to a meeting versus the people who actually commit to the program and progress through the steps.
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Success Rates of 12 Step Programs

It's clear that there are different analyses of the program, but even AA's harshest critics admit that the program does work for at least some percentage of participants. The success of 12-Step programs is likely due to a combination of social support, providing an accepting space for people's experiences and struggles, and encouraging self-reflection and awareness in participants.

Benefits of 12-Step Programs 

As of December 2021, AA estimated that it had over one million members in the United States alone. Of course, because AA is an anonymous program, it's impossible to get a truly accurate count of membership or to know whether the counted participants are active members or people who are attending a single meeting and may not come back.5

That said, AA and other 12-Step programs are some of the most influential treatment options for people in the United States. They're less impactful in Canada, and even less influential throughout the rest of the world, but that may change in the future.

Because attendance is anonymous, and many people don’t disclose that they are involved in a program, it's difficult to estimate the true impact of 12-Step programs. However, there is a good amount of evidence that AA participation, along with other 12-Step programs, does result in improved outcomes.
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The 12 Steps of Recovery Programs

There are many 12-Step programs out there, almost all of them using the anonymous model. Here is a list of current 12-Step programs you may be able to access:  

  • Anorexics And Bulimics Anonymous
  • Al-Anon
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Eating Disorders Anonymous
  • Family Anonymous
  • Food Addicts Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Nicotine Anonymous
  • Parents Anonymous

Additional Support Opportunities

There are a number of other programs out there besides just these. If you're looking for a specific kind of 12-Step program, chances are there is something out there for you.

Some of these support groups are aimed at the friends and family of addicts or people with mental health disorders – recognizing that the person dealing with a disorder or addiction isn’t the only person who may need specialized support.

12-Step Program

Learn What Ripple Ranch Has To Offer

12-Step programs might be a good option for some people, but many people need more specialized support, either within a 12-Step framework or outside of them.

At Ripple Ranch, we understand that 12-Step programs are exactly what some people need and that some people need something completely different.

We treat a range of addictions, including offering dual diagnosis treatment for people dealing with more than one condition at the same time. Ripple Ranch Recovery Center offers detox programs, along with both intensive outpatient programs and
residential treatment programs.  

Goals and Opportunities for Wellness

Our goal at Ripple Ranch is to offer the kind of treatment that best suits your needs, treatment that caters to your unique situation. Whether you need help understanding your substance use triggers, or need to learn how your mental health and substance use disorders go hand in hand, Ripple Ranch can help.

Reach out to Ripple Ranch for more information about our programs, or to start the intake process, today!  

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