Nobody ever intends to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. Despite knowing the risks involved in alcohol and drug, a growing number of people are turning to substance abuse while assuming that they’ll be able to control their consumption. In effect, they tell themselves that being knowledgeable of the possibility of addiction will allow them to remain in control of themselves, able to stop their consumption before it turns into full-fledged addiction. However, it’s clear that many people are unable to distinguish the point at which their addictions begin. 12 step programs help people admit that they are addicted and help them along a path of lifetime recovery.
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12 Step Programs – Recovery Resources
Today, it’s estimated that approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population over the age of twelve is addicted to a mind-altering, chemical substance. That is one in every ten people, which may not seem a lot when you consider that the remaining 90 percent aren’t chemically dependent; however, in 2014 it was determined that there were approximately 319 million people living in the U.S. and estimates of the number of addicts are between 24 million and up to 30 million. These are staggering figures. Worse yet is the fact that only about one in ten addicts is receiving any sort of treatment or help. This might cause some to assume that the reason there aren’t more people seeking treatment is because there aren’t a diverse enough selection of recovery resources that can appeal to a wide range of recovery needs, but there are more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities in the U.S.
12 Step Programs an Alternative to Clinical Addiction Rehabilitation
The alternative to traditional, clinical addiction rehabilitation is often considered to be support groups. Although one might think that support groups are ineffective compared to the recovery resources offered by alcohol and drug rehabs, millions upon millions of people have achieved lasting sobriety after joining twelve-step programs. Therefore, the following will discuss some of the many strengths of so-called anonymous support groups, explaining how they’ve worked for millions of people and how they could work for you, too.
What Exactly are The 12 Step Programs Methods?
First thing’s first: What are 12 Step Programs? The twelve-step program is the methodology used by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the many derivative groups that exist today. The first and original twelve-step support group Alcoholics Anonymous, created by Bill Wilson of Akron, Ohio, in 1935. Inspired by some of the faith-based and religious recovery fellowships that existed at the time—the Oxford Group, in particular—Wilson wanted to create a method that put spirituality at the forefront of the recovery process while group members would support, encourage, and share with each other throughout the recovery process.
The twelve-step method consists of Wilson’s renowned Twelve Steps, which were intended to serve as a sort of blueprint to the recovery process. Granted, Wilson’s recovery fellowship still offered addicts a means of achieving physical and psychological recovery, but the Twelve Steps put a major emphasis on spirituality. Moreover, Wilson’s methodology didn’t cater to one faith over the others; instead, the Twelve Steps were designed to be easily and readily used with any form of religious belief a person might have. Some of the “steps” include admitting one’s addiction to him or herself, taking a moral inventory of character defects, appealing to the higher power of one’s understanding for the strength to overcome those defects, and making amends to those that one has previously wronged.
Anonymous Support Groups Vs. Clinical Rehabilitation
Historically, programs offered at alcohol and drug rehabs and twelve-step or anonymous support groups were considered to be opposites, existing on opposite ends of the recovery spectrum and irreconcilably different. This was largely because of the spiritual emphasis of most support groups, particularly the anonymous groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, while programs offered at rehabs were based on multidisciplinary principles of psychotherapy, sociology, neurology, and some others.
Although rehabs have always shown to have better and more accurate results—partly because rehabs have more data from which researchers can make inferences—the various twelve-step programs have always had a major following with millions and millions of people attributing their success in recovery to the twelve-step method. The most concise way to describe the difference between these two approaches, at least from a patient/addict perspective, is to say that rehabs predominantly offer psychotherapy while twelve-step and anonymous support groups help recovering addicts source their dedication and conviction from their spirituality and faith.
Evidence In Support Of Twelve-Step Support Groups
Scientific analysis of the efficacy of anonymous support groups has been minimal due to the promise of anonymity to members of these groups; however, recently there’s been initiatives to quantify the level of benefit that support groups offer and there have been a number of parallels discovered between the twelve-step method and cognitive behavioral therapy. According to the results of these studies, support group members benefit from a number of things that these groups offer with one particular example being the benefits of “storytelling”, which allows people to vent some of their experiences, solicit advice if desired, and relate to others. There’s also evidence to suggest relaying one’s experiences to others encourages them to see their experiences from a fresh perspective, affording them new insight into these prior events.
Another major characteristic of support groups is a behavioral phenomenon called modeling that is believed to be why the sponsor-sponsee relationship is so beneficial to newer support group members who are still in the earlier stages of their recoveries. Modeling occurs when one person is able to model his or her behavior off the behavior of another person. In support groups, the sponsor provides the behavior—sustained, long-term sobriety—that the sponsee can adopt through observation. Modeling isn’t a make-or-break component of recovery, but it’s proven to be one of the greatest benefits of anonymous support groups.
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