Why Are 12-Step Programs Such a Good Choice for Recovery?

woman laying head on shoulder of other woman with man watchingMany patients at The Lakes Treatment Center participate in 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as a part of their ongoing recovery process. These programs can be traced back to the founding of A.A. in 1935, and they've become quite popular over the past few decades. Why are 12-step programs such a common, effective choice for ongoing recovery? Here's a look.

12-Step Programs Create a Sense of Community
One of the biggest challenges that addicts face in recovery is leaving behind old groups of friends who are still using. Addicts who are able to form new relationships and develop a new sense of community are less likely to return to previous friends who were bad influences.

A.A. and other 12-step programs create a sense of community early on. Participants tell their stories openly, which makes it easy for them to relate to others and get to know one another authentically. As the saying goes, "you are the company you keep." Recovering addicts who surround themselves with others who are dedicated to recovery have an easier time avoiding relapses.

12-Step Programs Are Easily Accessed
A.A. and N.A. meetings take place in community buildings, churches, and other facilities across the country. There are often multiple meetings in each city every night. This makes it easy for recovering addicts to reach out for support whenever and wherever they need it.

If someone is traveling and feeling an urge to use, they can easily find a 12-step meeting and seek the support they need. If one group does not feel quite right, they can find another nearby. The only requirement to join A.A. or N.A. is the desire to recover, so a recovering addict can resume attending even years after initially getting clean with no barriers to entry.

12-Step Programs Use an Incremental Process
Recovery is not easy, and trying to completely rebuild one's life after years of drug or alcohol abuse can seem like an insurmountable task. Breaking any tough process into small, incremental tasks makes it easier to tackle, and this is exactly what 12-step programs do.

The first step in A.A. is to just admit that the addict was powerless over their use of alcohol and that their use of the substance made their life unmanageable. Subsequent steps build on this base, first aiming to re-build the participant themselves before then working to re-establish relationships and a position in society.

12-Step Programs Create a Non-Judgmental Atmosphere
Addicts are so used to being judged and shamed for their addiction. It can be hard for them to be honest with friends and family members who pass judgment. A.A. and other 12-step programs create a non-judgmental atmosphere where participants feel comfortable being open and honest with their struggles with others who understand where they are coming from. Talking about the problem makes it easier to deal with.

12-Step Programs Heal the Whole Person
Addicts can sometimes feel like those assisting them are only interested in treating their addiction and not in helping them rebuild themselves as a person. Addiction affects every aspect of life, from personal relationships to education. It becomes integrated into who a person is and how they experience the world.

To successfully treat addiction, a program really needs to treat the whole person, seeking to reform their relationships, feelings of self-worth, and position in society. A.A. and other 12-step programs do this. Step 9, for example, is making direct amends with people the member has harmed. Step 12 is to help carry the message of recovery to others, which continues to establish a sense of community and honesty.

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, a 12-step program may be an important element of their recovery process. Reach out to The Lakes Treatment Center to learn more about our therapy programs and how we integrate 12-step programs into our approach.

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