The 12-Step Process Provides a Solid Foundation for Healing from Addiction

posted in Recovery, Treatment

The 12-step philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is used by many treatment centers for addiction. The reason the program works is it provides a structure and community for abstinence from substances. Healing only comes from relying on a higher power, taught by AA, which forces many people with addiction to take accountability for their actions. With a 12-step process, they learn how to take things one step at a time, day by day, and work together with others in the same situation to reclaim their life. One of the most well-known types of recovery support is the 12-step model. Learn why people use the 12-steps and how it provides foundational healing from addiction. 

Origins of 12-Steps

The 12-step process came from Christian inspiration to seek help from a higher power, including peers who suffer from addiction. The model was built around fellowship and was adopted as a model for a wide range of peer-support and self-help programs designed to support overall change. Various groups now exist beyond AA, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). These groups use a 12-step process to help people cope in recovery from addiction using the principles of AA. 

How it Works

The way the 12-step process works is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from substances or behaviors they are addicted to. They do this through meetings where they share experiences they are addicted to. They share experiences with one another and support them through abstaining from substance use. Abstinence practices can account for high levels of flourishing, which is positive mental health. This contributes to better long-term recovery. Those who abstain altogether have better mental health outcomes than those who don’t. Mental and emotional transformation happens when someone decides to give up substances and seek treatment for their addiction. Once they recognize it, they must surrender to the fact addiction wants to control and observe their behaviors to promote self-restraint and practice this in daily recovery. 

Rehab and 12-Steps

Residential rehab programs offer a place to stay while people cope with their addictions. Residential programs are offered away from triggers and temptations. Programs start with medical detox and require people to remain on-site for the program, up to 90 days. Residential rehab may include medical care, workshops, nutritional support, mental health services, and training on nutrition and health. Outpatient treatment programs can be held at any time of day or night but are not held as a residential program. People come in for the treatment program but leave to go home every day. Programs can last for several months yet allow people to continue going to work, school, and deal with family responsibilities in between. Support groups and therapy are all part of this experience, as well. 

Funding Rehab

Many people struggle with the cost of financing rehab. The cost of letting addiction keep going and take over a person’s life can be deadly, compared with seeking help in a professional rehab environment. The government sometimes helps fund people, as well, providing eligible veterans a chance to participate in alcohol dependence rehab programs offered at VA medical centers and clinics. These programs are free of charge but some people may want to try private rehab centers that focus on veteran care. 


Residential treatment programs and outpatient programs that focus on the 12-steps help people find hope in recovery. Whether the program includes 12-steps or is based on this concept, it is an alternative to the original model of treatment that provides customized care for each person in recovery. What people in recovery need most is to find their way back to themselves. Addiction makes people feel lost and like they are not sure who they are anymore. The 12-step process helps people find their way back along a winding path. The journey is difficult at first, but important to start for those still addicted to substances. This might also include lots of other aspects of recovery:

  • Sober companion or mentor
  • Holistic support
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Finding new hobbies
  • Moving or finding community support

Healing Power of Recovery

Everyone in a recovery group is there for different reasons, but they all want to be sober. Some are more further along in the journey but 12-step processes are not a guarantee anyone can stay sober. They have to want to do it and find hope in the process that recovery is possible. The more a person fights against themselves, the harder the recovery will be. With community support and friends, people who fight against addiction often find hope in numbers. That is the power of going to 12-step groups and finding others who struggle with the same challenges. Moving on from addiction is not easy. It takes courage and perseverance. The 12-steps are not a linear process. Some people step back into earlier steps to work through things they missed or came up later. The truth is they are able to make their journey their own as long as they are willing to notice the need for help and pursue it each day with friends and family supporting them every step of the way. The more a person puts into it the more they will get out of it. The goal is to persevere in the face of adversity and not give up when it is hard. That is how the community in the 12-step process can come alongside people who struggle and lift them up. That is the power of recovery. 

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