If you’re working on overcoming an addiction, a 12-step program can be a key resource on your recovery journey. These programs have helped millions of individuals recover from an addiction and maintain their sobriety. Most of us are familiar with the idea of 12-step programs, but not everyone knows exactly how they work. Here we go into more detail about the benefits of 12-step programs.
What is a 12-Step Program?
A 12-step program is a type of recovery program created to help people suffering from substance abuse. Although Alcoholics Anonymous is the original and most well-known of the 12-step groups, there are similar programs that focus on other types of substance abuse, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous.
In a 12-step program, members follow a specific set of steps to achieve abstinence from their substance of abuse and maintain their sobriety. Members of these groups often rely on a sponsor to guide them through the process of working the steps. The 12-step approach has a spiritual basis that hinges on a belief in a higher power, although members are free to define the higher power in their own terms.
Benefits of 12-Step Programs
Participating in a 12-step program can help members in many ways. Some of the most important benefits include:
- Affordability: Becoming a member of a 12-step program is usually free; the only requirement is a desire to overcome your addiction.
- Availability: You don’t have to live in a major metropolitan area to find a local 12-step meeting. Chances are there’s a meeting taking place near you no matter where you live.
- Sense of belonging: When you suffer from an addiction, your first instinct may be to try to handle it on your own. In a 12-step program, you’ll belong to a group of people who are facing the same challenges. You’ll have the opportunity to ask for help and receive the support you need.
- Safe haven: Meetings are a safe place to go when you’re having trouble maintaining your sobriety. If you’ve had a tough day, you can go to a meeting and know that you won’t be able to drink or use for a couple of hours. By the time the meeting ends, you’re likely to feel stronger and ready to get back to your recovery efforts.
Men, Women and the 12 Steps
Every person in recovery can benefit from joining a 12-step program, but studies have shown that men and women seem to derive different benefits from participation. One study surveyed nearly 2,000 members of Alcoholics Anonymous, asking them to cite the most powerful benefit of the program.
For male participants, the ability to deal with high-risk social situations and build a recovery-oriented social network were the most important benefits; female participants primarily cited the ability to abstain from drinking when feeling depressed or sad.
Overcoming an addiction is never easy, but the right support and recovery resources can make the process go more smoothly. A 12-step program can be an important part of your recovery plan: The structured set of steps, spiritual approach to recovery and social support have helped millions of people stay sober. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help and healing are available.