Why The Twelve Steps Work When Other Programs Fail
Few rehabilitation methods can compare to the success of 12-Step programs. Research has shown that a 12-Step approach offers significant benefits for people recovering from substance use disorder (SUD). According to Social Work in Public Health, “[Alcoholics Anonymous] and [Narcotics Anonymous] participation is associated with a greater likelihood of abstinence, often for prolonged periods up to 16 years, improved psychosocial functioning, and greater levels of self-efficacy.” Spero Recovery is a 12-Step-based program that ensures participants have access to all the tools they need to recover from SUD.
The 12-Step Philosophy Encourages Growth
We all know that you cannot resolve an issue by avoiding it. Recovery from substance misuse involves accepting responsibility and the consequences of personal actions. People in treatment must identify the underlying causes that allow maladaptive behaviors like substance misuse to thrive.
A 12-Step approach to treatment encourages us to accept all parts of ourselves. In addition, it helps us learn to identify how thoughts and feelings impact behaviors. Many other programs focus solely on the disease of addiction instead of the affected person. Twelve-Step programs provide a road map to sobriety that incorporates self-acceptance and accountability.
Most 12-Step programs encourage personal growth by helping people do the following:
- Accept people, places, thoughts, or ideas instead of rejecting or avoiding them
- Practice healthy values like honesty, integrity, and reliability
- Willingly accept responsibility for previous actions and practice self-forgiveness
Many people going through treatment programs experience moments of ambivalence where they no longer feel sure about their recovery. The twelve steps act as an anchor to keep people from sliding back into maladaptive behaviors.
Being of Service Improves Overall Wellness
Serving others has always been a primary tenet of 12-Step programs. Research has shown that selflessness and generosity can decrease stress and increase a person’s sense of well-being. According to Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, “Twelve-Step involvement…having a sponsor, doing service, reading recovery literature and contacting other 12-Step members outside of meetings, was predictive of continuously sustained abstinence.” Active participation and a willingness to follow through with selfless activities support long-term recovery.
Some people choose to serve others within the sober community by doing the following:
- Sponsoring peers in early recovery
- Providing practical support, including offering transportation or teaching a skill
- Outreach and advocating for sober peers within the community
Being of service looks different for everyone. Don’t let yourself feel embarrassed or ashamed if you don’t have the resources to give back in a traditional way. Every positive action counts, and we all have things we can do to help the people around us. Even a smile or a quick word of encouragement can save someone’s life or protect their sobriety.
4 Unique Features of 12-Step Programs
12-Step programs have unique features not seen in other recovery programs. Below are a few examples of what sets the twelve steps apart from other recovery methods.
1. Anyone Can Benefit From a 12-Step Program
You don’t need to have specific beliefs or adhere to any traditions to benefit from attending a 12-Step program. Some recovery treatment programs don’t work well for people who have no experience engaging in their form of recovery. However, the universal values and guidance shared within 12-Steps programs can engage anyone seeking sobriety.
2. Sponsorship and Building a Support System
Many people in recovery don’t have a reliable support system to help them remain accountable or provide emotional support. Twelve-Step programs offer an essential tool for people struggling to cope with the changes in their lives. Sponsors and mentors are people within the 12-Step community who have been sober for a certain period, and who feel confident providing emotional and practical support to peers in early recovery. 12-Step programs offer hope, friendship, and community.
3. Highly Structured Programs and Meetings
The highly structured nature of the 12-Step program provides support and guidance for people in early recovery. Consistency also helps people maintain sobriety long-term. In addition, they are highly accessible, with most cities hosting multiple 12-Step groups throughout the week and weekend. Other programs do not provide this same level of accessibility.
4. Values That Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
A 12-Step program or lifestyle encourages people to make positive and lasting changes that improve their mental health and how they interact with others. Every day is an opportunity to grow and explore what it means to live through your values. The principles of behavior expressed within the 12-Step philosophy include:
The 12-Step Program Encourages Accountability and Self-Efficacy
12-Step programs offer fellowship, accountability, and a greater sense of purpose for many people. Most other programs don’t give participants that level of engagement. Spero Recovery uses the twelve steps to help people connect with their recovery on a deeper level. You can use the twelve steps to work through your recovery and build a healthier future. Few other programs offer a similar sense of belonging and purpose.
The 12-Step approach works when other programs fail because they focus on the wrong aspects of treatment and recovery. The twelve steps provide a holistic guide for positive change and insight into long-term recovery. Other programs focus on the disease of addiction and how motivations or trauma may play a role in recovery. The limited scope of other programs prevents people from getting the full range of support they need to heal from substance misuse. Spero Recovery is a 12-Step program that offers skill development, opportunities for personal growth, and a compassionate approach to recovery. To learn more about our programs and services, call our office today at (303) 351-7888.