What is a 12-Step Program and Why Is It Part of Drug Rehab?

What Is a “12 Step” Program?

Many initially agree to go to drug rehab under the false pretense that a 1-3 month stint in an inpatient facility will cure even the most sick and suffering drug addict of his or her addiction. As a matter of fact, the role of drug rehab is not to rid the addict of his or her addiction, or even to put the disease into remission. In most instances, the role that drug rehab plays is simply one of initiation – an introduction to the overall healing process and to the lifelong progression of addiction recovery. Inpatient treatment is important in equipping patients with a set of tools that will prove necessary in maintaining sobriety, as well as a therapeutic (and in most instances, a holistic) approach to uncovering, addressing, and treating underlying factors and causes of addiction. One of the most important roles drug rehab plays, however, is the introduction to a 12-step method of recovery. The 12-step program, as proven time and time again, is what will work to keep individuals sober, happy, and free long after drug rehab concludes.

The vast majority of drug rehabilitation centers across the country will expose patients to several 12-step fellowships, the most common being Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Many inpatient facilities will provide clients with the AA literature and transport them to outside meetings several times per week. In many cases, 12-step meeting are also brought directly to the residence. Alcoholics Anonymous and all other 12-step fellowships consist of a group of men and women (or exclusively men or exclusively women) that join together and help one another to overcome alcoholism and other potentially lethal forms of addiction. So what exactly is a 12-step program?

Alcoholics Anonymous is One of The Most Popular and Well-Known 12-Step Programs

Let’s use AA as an example, seeing as it is potentially the most widely known of all the 12-step fellowships. An individual who has a desire to stop drinking will typically find an AA meeting in their local area. Most meetings can be found online, and most big cities have ‘clubhouses’ where meetings are held multiple times a day. This individual will identify him or herself as an alcoholic at the meeting, and begin actively looking for a sponsor – a man or women who has been taken through the 12-steps and is now qualified to take others through the steps. Essentially, the steps are an outline for better living – a simple set of tasks that when completed honestly and thoroughly are promised to result in a spiritual awakening and an overall improved life. While drug rehab is an important part of the foundation setting for sobriety, Alcoholics Anonymous will begin the true spiritual shift necessary to overcoming addiction for years to come.

What Does A Typical 12-Step Meeting Look Like?

Stepping into anything unknown can be both scary and unsettling. No matter how prepared you are educationally, attending your first 12-step meeting may be frightening – but there is truly no reason to be afraid! You will never be forced to do anything you do not want to do, and if you choose to you can simply sit in the back of the room and listen your first few times. Most meetings will have a ‘chairperson’, a man or a woman who leads the meeting and either asks a sober individual to speak (sharing his or her experience, strength, and hope) or leads the meeting with a topic of discussion. Other alcoholics in the meeting will raise their hands and share on the topic. Basically, a meeting is a group of like-minded individuals coming together to discuss how they are doing, and to share their personal experiences with alcoholism with others. Working the steps is essential to continued and fulfilled recovery, and one of the main jobs of drug rehabs nationwide is to introduce clients to this life-saving program.

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