Many methods are used by those treating people for addiction to substances such as drugs and alcohol. Most rehabilitation clinics use a variety of counselling and therapy sessions, but many also incorporate an element of 12 step therapy, which can be very effective at helping individuals to recover from drug or alcohol addiction.

What is 12 Step Therapy?

The 12 steps form the basis for a number of fellowship support groups, notably Alcoholics Anonymous, which was where the 12 steps originated. AA was founded in the 1930s by Dr Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. The idea was that those affected by alcoholism could come together to help inspire and motivate each other to get sober and stay sober.

AA was so successful that many other fellowship groups were created to help people struggling with other types of addiction. They all follow the same principles and the same 12 steps.

What Are the 12 Steps?

The 12 steps are split into three categories: the first three steps are known as the ‘decision steps’ and are based on the process of admitting that alcohol or drugs have become a problem. It is essential for anybody with addiction to be able to recognise the problem and accept that he or she needs help.

Steps four to nine are called the ‘action steps’ and while working on these steps, recovering addicts get involved in the process of recovery and work hard to get sober while learning how to live a drug- or alcohol-free life going forward. The action steps require the recovering addict to be able to take a good look at his or her life and substance abuse and to accept the wrongs that he or she has done to loved ones. It is necessary during these steps to make an effort to make amends with those who have been wronged.

After the action steps have been completed, the recovering addict is then ready to move on to steps ten to twelve, also known as the ‘maintenance steps’. At this point of the recovery process, the individual is working hard to stay sober and should also be doing all he or she can to help other addicts to get into treatment.

The Benefits of 12 Step Therapy

Twelve step therapy is so successful that many rehabilitation clinics use it as part of their treatment programmes in conjunction with other therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy, contingency management and individual counselling.

If you are an affected individual, then 12 step therapy is based around the idea that you should take responsibility for your own recovery. Counsellors, therapists and sponsors will all help to guide you through the process, but they will not recover for you. Taking ownership for your recovery will help to ensure you work harder and are motivated to stay sober.

Another benefit of introducing 12-step therapy into your recovery plan is the fact that you are likely to meet a host of new people who could become lifelong friends. Surrounding yourself with other recovering addicts who will never judge you or criticise your decisions can help with the recovery process. You will also have someone to call whenever things get tough.

By attending regular fellowship support meetings, you will be able to get tips on how to manage temptations and triggers from those who may be further along in the process than you are. You will also be inspired when you hear stories from other recovering addicts. You will probably find that a lot of the stories are things that you can relate to because you have experienced something similar.

Many of the stories will be funny and emotional and may inspire you to want to continue working hard.

What are Fellowship Meetings Like?

Upon leaving your rehabilitation programme, you will probably be advised to join a fellowship support meeting local to you at which there will always be that added support network that you can rely on when it’s needed. For many people, this is an important part of the recovery process, but most individuals are apprehensive about what to expect.

The thoughts of going to the first meeting can be scary, but it really doesn’t need to be. The important thing to remember is that you do not have to do or say anything that you are not comfortable with. You can be as involved as you want to be. You will probably find, however, that after a few weeks, you want to speak up and share your own experiences with other members; most people do.

A fellowship support meeting is similar to any other informal social gathering where people just sit and talk to each other. There is no pressure to admit to anything and no judgement, no matter what you say.

Why You Should Consider 12 Step Therapy

Fellowship support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have helped millions of people around the world to maintain their sobriety, and that is one of the main reasons 12 step therapy continues to be such a huge part of rehabilitation programmes for drug and alcohol addiction.