12 Step Programs - Drug Addiction Treatment
The 12-step program is one of the most widely used recovery therapies for drug addicts in the western world.
It originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), back in 1935, when founders Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith established a dozen ways of describing how the earliest members of the group felt. These were eventually matched with a set of 12 guidelines acting as a constitution for the AA. Since then many other groups have bastardised the original program to suit their own purposes and various versions are now being used to combat all kinds of addictions ranging from hard drugs and gambling to smoking and sex.
The AA 12-step program has its roots firmly in religion and there is a heavy emphasis on a "higher power." Admitting to God the nature of the problem asking him to "remove shortcomings" and "defects of character" and making amends to everyone that has been harmed through the problem are the basis of the 12 steps.
The program's founders believe that all the steps can be found at some point in the bible, and as with the bible, the 12 step process can be interpreted in countless ways. Some people interpret the steps literally while others use them as a guide.
Some critics are uncomfortable about the religious emphasis, particularly its suggestion that you give up on will power and self reliance and instead rely on the "higher power." Some find it offensive and inapplicable to atheists. To others the spiritual emphasis can be a plus and a comfort - you'll hear many recovering alcoholics say they've have "found God."
The most universally familiar characteristic of the program is that AA members must start by admitting they have a problem: "Hello, my name's John and I'm an alcoholic."
AA Meetings and 12 Step Program
Members meet on a regular basis to share their hopes, fears, successes and downfalls and they primarily provide support for each other. They usually have a "buddy" - someone who has either been through the program or a friend or family member who can be around to provide support and reassurance.
At each meeting or support group they recite the 12 steps as a mantra and a variety of literature is available which all reinforce the 12-step ethos.
As part of Step 12, after "having a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps", a recovering alcoholic is required to pass on their story to someone else with a drink problem, revealing how the AA has helped him or her find peace and sobriety. That person will then be invited to come along and be part of the group. And so on it goes.
The basics of the recovery program are now popular with other groups, being used in support centers, rehab clinics and in a large number of self help books and on internet sites. Some place less emphasis on the spiritual side - the focus is on an admission of the problem and a belief that you can become a stronger person and overcome it.