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History of 12-Step Program for Addiction Recovery

Originated by Alcoholics Anonymous, The 12 steps are the spiritual base for personal recovery from alcoholism, now referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD). The 12 steps are also used in recovery programs for other addictions. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is the program for individuals trying to overcome drug addictions and Al-Anon Family Groups offer support for friends and family members of addicts. For those interested in the 12 step programs and are searching online for a “12 step program near me”, we are giving you some of the history of 12 step program along with general important information on 12 step programs for addiction recovery. 

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What Is A 12-Step Program?

A 12 step program is a mutual support organization that’s organized for the purpose of recovery from:

  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Behavioral addictions
  • Substance use disorders (SUDs)
  • Compulsions

First developed in the 1930s, AA was the first 12-step program. Since then, dozens of other programs have evolved from their approach to address various other problems. All 12-step programs use a version of AA’s suggested 12 steps.

What Are The 12 Steps?

Although the original 12 Steps of AA have been modified over time, the basis for each step stays the same for all recovery programs that use a 12-step model. By thoroughly examining the steps and seeing how others have applied the principles to their lives, you can use them to: 

  • gain an understanding of your own experiences 
  • build strength to persevere 
  • gain hope for your own recovery

The steps and their principles are:

  1. Admitting to a lack of power over alcohol and that our lives are unmanageable. 

Honesty: After years of denial, recovery can start with simply admitting to being powerless over alcohol or any other drug.

  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Faith: Before a higher power can be effective, you have to first believe that it can be. 

  1. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Surrender: You can change your behavior by realizing that you can’t recover alone, without the help of your higher power.

  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Soul searching: You need to identify your problems and get a clear understanding of how your behaviors affect yourself and others.

  1. Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Integrity: You must admit your wrongs in front of your higher power and another person.

Additional 12 Steps and Principles

  1. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

Acceptance: The idea of Step 6 is to accept the defects in your character as they are.

2.Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

 Humility: The focus of Step 7 is asking a higher power to do something that can’t be done by mere determination or self-will.

  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

 Willingness: Make a list of those people you harmed before starting recovery.

  1. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Forgiveness: If you’re serious about recovery, making amends can be a great way to heal relationships throughout the rest of your life.

  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Maintenance: It is necessary to admit you were wrong to maintain your spiritual progress.

  1. 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.

Making contact: The purpose of Step 11 is to discover the plan your higher power has for you.

7.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.

Service: You must carry the message to others and use the principles of the program in every area of life each and every day.

How Do The 12 Steps Help People Overcome Addictions?

The 12 steps offer a suggested recovery program that has worked for the early members of AA and has continued to work for many years, regardless of the type of addiction. It was created for alcohol or drugs addicts to help them learn how to cope with sobriety in a way that gives direction, structure, and support.

The 12-step meetings are the “fellowship” part of the AA mutual support groups. During the meetings, people come together to share their experiences and offer support to the other members. Generally, the purpose of a support group is to help individuals realize that they can’t do it alone. 

Based on a design, the 12 steps are like a framework for personal change. Having an addiction can restrict a person from making the necessary changes in his or her life. However, by talking to others who have the same experiences, and have shared similar experiences in their lives, a way to make these changes takes place. 

According to Psychology Today, “the 12 Steps program provides shelter for addicts who are adjusting to a new lifestyle.” They replace their old destructive lifestyles with new, healthier ones.

Encouraging Awareness

A 12-Step program also encourages awareness by:

  • Making people have an awareness of themselves. In other words, knowing your shortcomings and using them to improve yourself.
  • By providing a sponsor or therapist that makes sure that support is offered to members of the group.
  • Understanding the addictions and compulsive behaviors that lead to the harm of people’s health.
  • Providing knowledge of a more productive way to act, think, and live.

History of 12-Step Program

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, as the result of a meeting between Bill W., a stockbroker from New York, and Dr. Bob S., a surgeon in Akron. Both men had been helpless alcoholics. Before meeting one another, both were in contact with the Oxford Group. 

The Oxford Group emphasized universal spiritual values in daily living. This spiritual influence and the help of a long-term friend helped Bill get sober. But before meeting Dr. Bob, none of the other alcoholics around him had actually recovered. Simultaneously, Dr. Bob’s membership in the Oxford Group had not helped him achieve sobriety. 

Bill learned from Dr. William Silkworth of Towns Hospital in New York that alcoholism was a sickness of the mind, body, and emotions. Prior to this, Dr. Bob had not known alcoholism to be a disease. As a result of Bill’s ideas, Dr. Bob got sober and never drank again. 

Dr. Bob and Bill W. immediately started to work with alcoholics at Akron’s City Hospital. One person achieved sobriety quickly and these three men made up the core of the first AA group.

The 12 steps were developed after the creation of AA by a few years and they didn’t appear all at once but came together in a very short period of time while co-founder Bill Wilson was writing the Big Book in 1938. That’s the general history of 12 step program.

How Have The 12 Steps Changed?

Even though the 12 steps being used today are based on the history of 12 step program, written by the founders of AA in the 1930s, the understanding of the term “God” has expanded to refer to God “as we understand Him.” Thus, God can be any “higher power” that an individual believes in. Regardless, believing in a higher power may help someone find meaning in life outside of addiction.

As a result of the spiritual nature of the 12 step program, a person may join a spiritual or religious group and find a stronger sense of community. A person might also take part in meditation and prayer. These can all be healthy coping methods that a person can turn to as he or she progresses in recovery.

Since the 12-Steps were first developed, they have been adopted by many organizations to deal with everything from narcotics addictions to emotional disorders and more. Typically each organization adjusts the steps slightly, just enough to indicate the relevant substance or affliction. Generally, but not always, these additional 12 step programs have the approval of AA.

Finding a 12-Step Program Near Me

Many treatment centers include 12-step programs or 12-step facilitation therapy in their services. Twelve-step groups are used in formal treatment programs such as residential treatment or outpatient treatment programs. Often, 12-step programs are used in continuing care or as a requirement for sober living residences. 

12-step facilitation therapy helps encourage individuals to take part in mutual support groups by providing safe places to become familiar with the steps without the group setting. Programs organized in a treatment facility might use an individualgroup, or combination approach. 

If you’re stepping down from formal treatment, it’s helpful to talk to your treatment team about which recovery support groups would be the most beneficial for you. Other things to consider when new to recovery include finding a recovery, support program that specializes in your specific addiction. 

Some of the most common 12 step groups are:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
  • Overeaters Anonymous (OA)

Finding a local “12-step program near me” that isn’t part of formal treatment is easy. Each group has a website and a search tool to help you find local and online meetings.

12 Step Program Near Me at Harmony Place

If the history of 12 step program  got you thinking about finding help for an addiction, a comprehensive addiction treatment program should be your first step. Harmony Place Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles can provide you or a loved one, all of the services necessary to design a personalized recovery program. From an initial medically monitored detox to alumni and aftercare programs, our addiction specialists are experienced in the treatment of a range of substance use disorders and the mental issues that may co-exist. 

You will have a treatment team to help you on your road to recovery. We know it’s a difficult path and are determined to provide you with everything you need to succeed. 

Recovery from addiction is a complicated process. Just quitting is only the first step. Contact us today. Find out what we can do for you.