12 Step Programs

Table of Contents

Introduction

12 step programs can often be beneficial when in recovery from addiction. The programs may be the first step when someone is trying to get sober or a 12-step program may be used as a form of aftercare after going through a rehabilitation program. Either way, it can provide a structure and support system to help recover from addiction and maintain sobriety.

What are the Most Common 12 Step Programs?

AA Meetings

AA meetings involve members sharing experiences about their drinking problem and being there to support one another. AA meetings are open to anyone who wants to join and get help. The AA program also involves getting a sponsor to help you along in your process of getting sober. Sobriety milestones are celebrated by handing out chips at meetings based on how long someone has been sober.

NA Meetings

NA meetings are similar to AA meetings. An NA meeting involves people sharing their experiences and being there to support one another in their pursuit of sobriety. NA also has sponsors and milestones for length of sobriety that are celebrated.

What are the 12 steps?

The 12 steps for AA and NA are very similar in many ways, but there are some differences. First, the obvious difference is that AA focuses specifically on an addiction to alcohol, whereas NA focuses on many types of drugs including alcohol. The first step of AA states “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol,” whereas the first step of NA states “we admitted we were powerless over our addiction.”
It’s not a big difference when you first look at it, but AA focuses more on the substance itself whereas NA focuses on the addiction, which is a more internal thing. This often leads people to conclude that NA is more focused on the individual rather than the substance itself.
Here are the 12 steps for each program, they are very similar but there are some noticeable differences.

AA

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  7. Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs

NA

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable
  2. We can believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Programs for Friends and Family

Addiction affects not only the person struggling but also those who are close to them. There are also resources available to those who feel they’ve been affected by a friend or family member who struggled or is struggling with an addiction.

Al-Anon

Al-Anon has their own 12 step program that aims to provide therapeutic benefits to those who have been affected by alcoholism in their family. Al-Anon meetings can be beneficial in being able to share and learn from others who have had similar experiences.

Nar-Anon

Nar-Anon is for people who have loved ones that have struggled with narcotic addiction. Nar-Anon aims to let people know that they aren’t alone and tries to provide a safe space for people to express how these things have affected them.

Alateen

Alateen is similar to Al-Anon, but it’s focused on younger people who have been affected by alcoholism in family members or friends. Watching someone struggle with alcoholism can affect someone who is young greatly and it’s beneficial for them to have a safe space where they can talk about it.

What are the Main Alternatives to 12 Step Programs?

While 12 step programs are very common and well known, some people have complaints about them or don’t like the structure. Some of the complaints include mixed results with 12 step programs, the high presence of faith and other religious aspects, and the fact that some people may feel like they are being forced to attend. Some popular alternatives to 12 step programs include:

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a popular alternative to the traditional 12 step program. The acronym SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery groups focus on self-empowerment and staying motivated after rehab. The main structure of SMART Recovery is based around a four-point program. The four points go as follows:

Point 1 – Build and Maintain Motivation

This point focuses on developing the motivation to maintain sobriety, building a good support system, and determining how you will handle certain situations to overcome impulses.

Point 2 – Cope with Urges

SMART Recovery programs want to help you recognize urges and learn how to deal with them. This includes recognizing situations or things that will be a trigger and creating a plan to cope or avoid those situations.

Point 3 – Manage Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior

This point involves changing your thinking patterns, essentially taking negative thoughts, and replacing them with more positive or uplifting ones.

Point 4 – Live a Balanced Life

This point focuses on developing healthy living habits, as having positive and healthy habits will help maintain sobriety.

Rational Recovery

Rational Recovery is described by its members as the opposite of AA. There are several ways it differs from AA. There aren’t any religious or spiritual elements, the label recovering alcoholic isn’t used, there is less emphasis on recovery groups, and recovery is viewed as an event, not a process. This program uses a technique called AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique). It focuses on recognizing the voice inside your head that drives you to drink and diverting those thoughts to more positive areas and creating better behavioral patterns.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Secular Organizations for Sobriety is a program that is focused on developing self-reliance and self-respect when it comes to recovery. Rather than having to submit to a higher power like in most 12 step programs, this program focuses on making recovery more of a personal decision to improve your life, health, and well-being.

LifeRing Recovery

LifeRing Recovery is a program that tries to focus on the present, not the past. This program wants you to connect with your “sober self” and the positives that sobriety brings rather than focusing on your past actions. LifeRing tries to make their program less structured and instead lets you determine what areas you think you need to focus on to maintain sobriety.

Narconon Controversy

Narconon is a program that is for helping people who have been affected by addiction. However, there are controversial opinions about Narconon because of its affiliation with the Church of Scientology. Narconon has denied that its administrators are directly associated with the Church of Scientology or that its methods are based on the teachings of Scientology in any way.

Conclusion

Overall, 12 step programs can be beneficial for someone struggling with addiction. They can provide support and structure. There are also alternatives to the traditional 12 step program, as well as programs that can help those who have been affected by addiction in loved ones.
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are resources available to get the help you need. You can call Iris Healing to start today.

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