What is the 12-Step Program and What Can You Expect?

what are the 12 steps

One of the most well-known – and widespread – approaches to addiction recovery is the 12-Step model. If you are researching drug treatment centers, there is no doubt you’ve come across this concept before. Nearly 75 percent of rehab facilities today enact 12-Step programs. And if you haven’t heard of the 12-Steps, you’ve likely heard of the organization that created them – Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

As we discussed in a previous article, one of the most essential first steps in choosing a drug rehab center is understanding their treatment approach. How do they view drug addiction, how do they motivate those in recovery, and which treatment methods do they use and find most successful? Because most treatment centers today rely on the 12-Step model in some form, it’s important to understand what the 12-Step program is, its benefits, as well as what it entails.

Turnbridge – a preeminent, young adult treatment facility that supports the 12-Step model – breaks this all down below.

What are the 12-Steps?

According to the “Big Book” — the central literature of AA – the 12-Steps are a set of guiding principles that, when practiced as a way of life, can reduce or expel a person’s compulsion to drink and use drugs.

12-Step programs consist of regular meetings and support groups, which are driven by discussion and designed to provide those in recovery with an added, sober support system as they work towards abstinence. When a person is “working the 12-Steps,” they are committing to these ongoing meetings. They are also learning how to cope with addiction, how to avoid relapse triggers, and how to live sober.

As the name entails, 12-Step programs outline a specific course of action (hence, steps) for those battling substance addictions. There are three main concepts that dominate the 12-Steps:

  1. Acceptance – Accepting the fact that drug addiction is a chronic disease. A person does not have control over a progressing substance addiction, and willpower alone is not enough to overcome it. To move through the 12-Steps, a person must accept the value of abstinence. Over time, they must also come to accept themselves and the ability to change.
  2. Surrender – Giving oneself over to a higher power (whatever that may be) and accepting the support from that power and from others. Surrender also involves accepting past mistakes, being willing to make amends, and fully following to the 12-Steps.
  3. Active Involvement – Participating and engaging in 12-Step meetings, as well as related activities, to sustain one’s recovery. This principle also involves consistently taking self-inventory, and always being aware of oneself throughout the recovery process.

The 12-Steps are spiritual in nature, as they speak of a “higher power” in some regard. Alcoholics Anonymous also is known to encourage those in recovery to experience a “spiritual awakening.” This is, essentially, their way of describing a turning point, or finding that a change needed to overcome addiction. While the spiritual language of the 12-Steps may deter a few at first, approach them with an open mind. The 12-Step program is fully open to interpretation and different religious beliefs. In fact, many non-religious people have found the 12-Step program extremely helpful and effective.

With a focus on sobriety, spirituality, self-help, and discussion, the 12-Step model enables those in recovery to “become happily and usefully whole.”

What are the Benefits of the 12-Steps?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, self-help and support groups like 12-Step meetings can “complement and extend the effects of professional treatment.” These meetings encourage clients to participate in collaborative, group therapy during – and even after – treatment, offering an added layer of sober, social support for those in recovery.

For young people specifically, the 12-Step program is beneficial in that it connects adolescents and young adults in the recovery community – creating a support network of peers who are similar in age and walking in similar shoes. They can share their stories with one another and form sober relationships to support them throughout their recovery journeys. This added support also helps reinforce abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and bolsters any progress made towards success at work, in school, in family.

What is the 12-Step Program like at Turnbridge?

As a recognized young adult rehab center, it is Turnbridge’s utmost goal to help teenagers and young adults succeed in their recovery and in their lives, without the cloud of drugs. Our addiction treatment programs are all designed to keep residents actively involved and engaged in their recovery journeys. Part of this involvement includes working the 12-Steps.

Turnbridge follows a three-phased program, called “Phased Reintegration,” which residents complete at their own pace and level of readiness. Clients move from structured routines (exercise, meals, and 12-Step meetings) into elective treatment activities over time, gaining more independence and responsibility with each phase. A client cannot “step” into the next phase of treatment until he or she has fully succeeded in the first – similar to the 12-Step approach. There is no set timeline at Turnbridge.

In addition to this phased approach to treatment, Turnbridge also integrates the 12-Step model into our rehab programs for young men and women. Throughout each phase of our drug and alcohol treatment, clients are required to attend 12-Step meetings, to seek a sponsor, and to “work the program.” On top of the direct benefits of the 12-Step program, the process of attending meetings and finding sponsors becomes a learning experience for young adults. They learn how to form solid, sober relationships with sponsors and members of the local recovery community. In the later phases of recovery, clients are also encouraged to arrange their own transportation to/from 12-Step meetings – an added responsibility.

Learn more about Turnbridge’s addiction treatment programs for young men and young women by calling 877-581-1793.