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FAQs About 12 Step Programs

by Ellen Hollinton

The 12 step program is a treatment for dealing with alcoholism, substance abuse, or other addictions. It involves 12 steps and concepts to help someone change their habits and views. Here are some frequently asked questions about the 12 step program:

What Is the 12 Step Program?

The 12 step program is a program based on steps an individual must take to create a big change in their life; specifically, conquering an addiction. 12 step programs often include peer support groups that seek to help members to recover from addiction. Members of the group help each other adhere to 12 step processes for recovering from drugs, alcohol, or other dependencies, such as compulsive shopping and gambling. The path outlined by the 12 steps includes spiritual progress via a series of actions to achieve a complete emotional, mental, and spiritual shift. This can be a critical element for long-term recovery programs.

What Is the Origin of the 12 Step Program?

The 12 step program is the brainchild of Bill Wilson. A former member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Wilson created the program in 1938 in an attempt to discover his Higher Power and maintain sobriety. The steps combine ideas and tips regarding sobriety, personal accountability, and Christian inspiration.

What Are the 12 Traditions?

The 12 traditions are concepts used alongside the 12 steps for enhancing the program’s intentions. It focuses on major values like self-support, anonymity, authority, and autonomy. Applying the 12 traditions in group programs may solidify the teachings. Group members may also use the traditions to govern their specific meetings to create a uniform and balanced program. 

Are 12 Step Programs Religious? 

Although the 12 steps focus on spiritual ideas, the program itself is not religious. Members are not required to be religious to attend these meetings. The principles focus on the ideas of faith, humility, honesty, and repentance, which are considered spiritual. If spirituality or the religious aspect of the program does not feel right for you, search for specific meetings for agnostics and atheists. 

Can I Fail Out of a 12 Step Program? 

The requirement to join a 12 step program is the desire to deal with addiction and achieve sobriety. The program doesn’t put limitations on who attends meetings or for how long. Participation in the meetings is voluntary. Some members continue attending meetings to avoid relapse.

How Often Do I Have To Attend Meetings? 

Experts recommend that anyone struggling with addiction or fresh out of recovery should attend meetings consistently and frequently. Working with a group can help you get support from others in your journey toward sobriety. Attending meetings often may prevent relapse even after maintaining abstinence for a significant period and feeling stable in your sobriety.

Addiction has no cure. Look for ways to manage it daily and consistently by attending meetings to find support and achieve the benefits of the 12 steps. 

How Long Do I Have To Work on the 12 Steps?

There is no set amount of time for someone to go through the 12 step program. The average length of attending the 12 steps varies depending on the individual’s situation. You can attend as many meetings as you need to stay clean and sober. The time you commit to the program should be enough for a successful recovery.

What Is a Mutual-help Group (MHG)?

Mutual-help groups include two or more people with a common issue who work together to get solutions by supporting each other. Although not all MHGs are 12-step-based, many 12 step programs are designed as mutual help groups. Interacting with others with the same issues and goals may be the best way to achieve sobriety.

Are 12 Step Programs Expensive?

12 step programs are free and available in most countries and cities. There is usually no formal process to join. The free treatment program is available to anyone lacking the means to access expensive programs.

How Can I Find a Meeting Near Me?

Searching for 12 steps meetings online is a simple way to find the groups near you. You can also contact other regional treatment programs to check if they host meetings or recommend locations you can attend. With enough research and recommendations from family and friends, you can find meetings incorporating the 12 step program.

Is the 12 Step Program Right for Me?

Anyone considering joining a 12 step program should think about their needs and whether the meetings will meet these needs. Try attending a few meetings to feel the atmosphere and understand how the program works and how it coincides with other recovery treatments. Get to know other members and participate in the activities of the group. Look for groups that make you feel comfortable and worthy.

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