12 Step Rehabilitation Programs
In 1934 a stockbroker and alcoholic name Bill Wilson had an awakening about sobriety. He met another alcoholic, Dr. Bob Smith, in Akron, Ohio and the two discussed their addiction. The men became so inspired by their talks with one another that they quit drinking for good.
Over the next few years, the men recruited fellow alcoholics to their homes to have the same inspiring talks. They found that taking the addiction one day at time was the best approach. Looking at it for a lifetime seemed too hard.
Bill wrote about these experiences in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) published in 1939. He also drew from the writings of philosopher and psychologist William James.
Today, many addiction and behavioral groups have adopted the 12 steps program foundation. Groups that include Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Debtors Anonymous (DA), Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and many others.
The 12 Steps
- Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Step 10- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Groups will modify the wording to address their particular addiction or compulsion.
Purpose of 12-Step Programs
Twelve-step programs are designed to get you clean and keep you clean. By following the 12 steps, you’re changing your behavior, changing your perception, identifying what’s important, and ultimately getting your life back in balance. The 12 steps are specific behaviors and activities designed to get your life centered.
Some people are uncomfortable with the religious wording of the steps. But these references can be substituted for any higher power or spirituality as you understand these concepts.
People meet to listen to each other’s experiences in a non-judgmental environment. These meetings often seem like a mirror. You’re hearing experiences that sound similar to your own. And though you come from different backgrounds, the struggles with addiction are parallel.
You’re also supporting one another. Support is important because you’re trying to give up the center (drugs, alcohol, etc.) of your life. And that is stressful, scary and lonely for many.
At the same time you’re going to meetings, you’re applying the 12 steps in your own life. You’re building a new foundation.
Meetings are free. No records are kept. You don’t even need to give your name. You can go and just listen. But to get the most out of the program, you should share your experiences. Sharing is part of the 12-step (step 5) program.
Twelve-step programs are not for everyone. But many people have benefitted from the programs for years. The meetings are everywhere and are filled with non-judgmental peers. Try attending one.