The Importance of 12-Step Groups to Relapse Prevention

Many rehab facilities introduce patients to 12-Step groups to give them the chance to share their journey with substance abuse. 12-Step groups help patients create healthy relationships and connections with others who have shared experiences. Patients also gain the support of a community, learn to overcome temptations, and form a team who will hold them accountable and assist with relapse prevention.

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The 12-Step Model

12-Step programs are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the world’s oldest and largest alcoholism support group. Individuals in recovery meet in groups with others in recovery to bond and share stories. 12-Step groups typically incorporate spiritual themes for healing. Patients approach sobriety by following 12 distinct steps, usually based on those found in the Big Book used in Alcoholics Anonymous. Developed by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12-Steps groups encourage principles of humility, willingness, hope, honesty, brotherhood, and perseverance in overcoming addiction.

Common examples of steps include:

  • Admitting powerlessness over addiction
  • Belief in a higher power that can restore sanity
  • Deciding to turn the will of patients in recovery to a higher power
  • Making a moral inventory of life
  • Admitting wrongdoing to a higher power, self, and others
  • Asking a higher power to remove character flaws
  • Humbly asking a higher power to remove shortcomings
  • Making lists of people harmed with the intent to make amends
  • Making amends to harmed people, except when to do so would harm them.
  • Taking personal inventory
  • Praying and meditating to sustain connection with a higher power
  • Spiritual awakening

Alcoholics Anonymous also includes 12 traditions, which provide loose rules for the governance and practices of AA as an organization. These have been emulated by many other 12-Step programs. Some of the 12 traditions include:

  • The common welfare of the group comes first
  • Recognizing a loving higher power in the group conscience
  • The only requirement for participation is a desire to stop alcohol abuse
  • Each group remains autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or the organization as a whole
  • Each group has one main purpose, to carry its message to suffering addicts
  • Never endorsing, financing, or lending AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise
  • Every group is fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions
  • Groups should never be organized except for service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve
  • The group as a whole has no opinions on outside issues and does not get involved in public controversy
  • Public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion
  • Unity of the organization’s community
  • Anonymity is a spiritual foundation

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12-Step-Based Groups

One Of The Primary Goals Of 12-Step Groups Is Relapse PreventionAlcoholics Anonymous has helped millions struggling with alcoholism to seek peace and transform their lives. Over the past decades, dozens of other 12-Step groups have formed to help others experiencing a variety of addictions. The largest of these is probably Narcotics Anonymous, which helps individuals struggling with a variety of drug addictions. Other 12-Step groups include:

  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Heroin Anonymous
  • Pills Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Crystal meth Anonymous
  • Marijuana Anonymous

Relapse Prevention and 12-Step Groups

12-Step models provide people in recovery with the community and support necessary to reinforce healing. When patients in recovery are in group settings, they have the ability to ask for help from their peers without shame and judgement. Studies reveal a link between a patient’s active role in support groups and long-term recovery, as regular attendance is the best way to begin and maintain healing. Having a sponsor and reading 12-step related content are additional tips that can with relapse prevention.

The spiritual focus of 12-Step groups greatly assists in creating feelings of hope and connection with patients in recovery. Since addiction is considered a disease of the spirit, healing the spirit body via 12-step programs while including other self-help techniques tapers feelings of guilt and provides a renewed life outlook. When patients in recovery can become aware of the impact addiction has played in their lives and the lives of others, they can begin to become more honest and focused on achieving core change.

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Ready to Find the Right 12-Step Program for You?

Addiction recovery requires support and connection, and it is most likely to succeed when patients are treated in a treatment facility. If you or a loved one are looking to get sober before finding the right 12-step program for your needs, your chances of doing so will be greatest if you attend a treatment facility. Contact a treatment expert today to get admitted.

Last Edited: April 23, 2018

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