Does 12 Step Recovery Work?

by baladmin | July 30, 2014

12 step recovery works when other methods of treatment fail. In fact, for the last 79 years, the 12 step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous has been so successful that many other 12 step programs have been established. The only difference is that alcohol is exchanged for the addiction, i.e.: Cocaine Anonymous aka (CA). Now there are 12 step recovery books and meetings for just about any addiction a person can suffer with.

When Did 12 Step Recovery Begin?

The 12 step recovery program was first established in 1935 by a man named Bill W. People generally identify themselves in 12 step meetings with their first name and last name initial to protect their anonymity, hence anonymous. Prior to the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps, people suffering with alcoholism had no where to turn for help but the family doctor.

The medical profession was completely baffled on how to effectively treat alcoholics, and most serious alcoholics ended up dieing slow and painful deaths. The alcoholics who did not die were locked up in jail or put away in sanitariums. Prior to Alcoholics Anonymous there was little hope of recovery for the alcoholic.

Again, due to its success, the 12 Step program has now been tailored for over 100 other addictions including but not limited to: eating disorders, smoking, narcotics aka (NA), and codependency aka (Ala-non). Some of the most effective addiction treatment centers combine expert clinical therapy with the 12 step model of recovery, .

12 Step Recovery Works

In the first year AA had attracted approximately 100 members to the 12 step program. Today, in the year 2014 – Alcoholics Anonymous has about 2.1 million members. One of the reasons the 12 step program continues to be so successful is because it essentially provides a new way of life to replace the former addictive one. If a person completes a 12 step based inpatient treatment center, they can continue their recovery program by attending 12 step meetings in their community. The beauty of 12 step programs is that no matter where a person is in the world, they can usually find a 12 step meeting to attend.

How AA Works

AA’s recovery program is about much more than just not drinking alcohol. The 12 step goal is designed to bring about a change in the alcoholic’s thinking that will facilitate a spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening is achieved by doing the 12 Steps as outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Doing service work in AA, regular attendance at AA meetings, and regular contact with AA members are all important aspects of the program.

Members are encouraged to find an experienced fellow alcoholic which is called a sponsor to help them understand and follow the 12 step recovery program. The sponsor has experience in the program and an established period of sobriety. It is suggested to have a sponsor who is the same gender, and who refrains from imposing personal views on the sponsored person. Following the helper therapy principle, sponsors in AA benefit as much, if not more, from their relationship with the sponsee. One alcoholic talking to another alcoholic has been the foundation of 12 step recovery success.

A study found a significant association between increased attendance at AA meetings with increased spirituality, and a decrease in the frequency and intensity of alcohol use over time. The research also found that 12 step recovery was effective for agnostics and atheists too.

A 12 Step Way of Life

Since the 12 step recovery programs are comprised of addicts who are working to overcome the same malady, the addict is able to create a strong support group of like minded individuals. These relationships tend to spill over into all other aspects of the addicts life. Hence, it becomes a way of life that replaces the former life of active drinking or using. Accountability among peers in the 12 step program has to this point in time been the best way to achieve and maintain sobriety.