If you are suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs, you may be at the point where you are ready to try anything to break free from the seemingly endless cycle of substance abuse.
One of the oldest and most effective ways to treat addiction is by using a 12-step program. These programs not only help you restore sanity and sobriety to your life; they also offer the added bonus of providing a network of peers who can support you through tough times.
The best part is that these programs are available everywhere, including in the Denver, Colorado area. Many recovery centers such as Denver Recovery Center also offer 12-step principles in their evidence-based treatment programs.
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What is a 12-Step Program?
A 12-step program is one that is based on the set of principles that were originally created by Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith in 1935 when they founded the group Alcoholics Anonymous. Both suffered from a seemingly incurable addiction to alcohol. It wasn’t until they met each other in 1935 and started sharing their thoughts, struggles, and ideas, that they realized that alcoholism was truly a disease, or a malady of mind, emotions, and body.
After achieving their own sobriety, they decided to start helping others. They published their book Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939 and made it their life’s mission to help others break free from the powerful addiction to alcohol. Their method involved following 12 basic stages in order, with the help of someone who had already completed the process, known as a sponsor.
There are currently over 200 different types of 12-step fellowships around the world. From Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous, if you are struggling with an issue, there is likely a group that can help you recover. The beautiful thing about this program is the fact that although it was originally designed to help people who abused alcohol, you can substitute just about any substance or bad habit in alcohol’s place and you will see similar results. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the 12-step model has proven so effective that approximately 75% of all treatment centers in the United States use this methodology in their practices.
What Are the 12 Steps?
The steps are the guiding principles that should be followed in programs for treatment. If followed correctly and in order, they should guide you through the very difficult process of breaking free from an addiction. The following are the original twelve steps that were published by Alcoholics Anonymous:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Them.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Them to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Them, praying only for knowledge of Their will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step 12: 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.
Each of these is a critical part of the overall process. They must be done in order and should be done with a sponsor. As you work through each one, you will see that the entire process can be broken down into three major parts: seeking help from a higher power, acknowledging the mistakes you have made in life and trying to make them right, and continuing the process moving forward. Here are a few more details on each of those:
Acknowledgement (Steps 1-3)
The first step involves admitting the fact that you have a problem. Addiction has taken over your life and you must acknowledge that you have no control over it. You will also begin to realize just how much your life has fallen apart during this phase.
Step 2 requires you to identify your higher power and acknowledge the fact that this higher power has the ability to help you get your life back to normal. Many people identify their higher power as God. If you are not a religious person, you can work through the process by choosing a higher power that makes the most sense for you; perhaps it is mother nature or something similar. It simply needs to be the ultimate power or force in your life.
When you have acknowledged the fact that you have lost control over your life because of your addiction and identified the fact that there is a power greater than you, you are ready for step 3. This involves preparing yourself mentally to trust in that higher power and eventually turning over your unmanageable life to that higher power. This is necessary so that sanity can once again be achieved in your life.
Doing the work (Steps 4-9)
The next set involves taking a personal inventory of your life and listing all of the wrongs you have done to others and yourself. In step 4, you will work with your sponsor to really dig into the details of your past and identify the times where you made poor decisions or compromised your moral beliefs. Once these items have been listed out, step 5 involves admitting each of them to your higher power and another person (usually your sponsor). Admitting the things you have done wrong may be difficult to do with another person, but you will likely find that it feels like a weight has been lifted off your conscience.
In step 6 you will prepare yourself to hand over to your higher power all of those mistakes from your past and the flaws in your character that have developed over the course of your addiction. In step 7 you hand the mistakes over and allow yourself to be free from the weight that those bad choices have been placing on your life.
In step 8, you will look at your list from step 4 and identify all of the people you have done wrong over the course of your addiction. Step 9 has you review this list of people and make amends to each and every one of them, if possible.
Moving forward (Steps 10-12)
The final stages teach you how to move forward with your life. Step 10 instructs you to constantly take inventory of your life, ensuring that the decisions you make and actions you take are good ones. It also forces you to be accountable for the poor choices that are made.
Step 11 involves improving your relationship with your higher power. Through prayer and meditation, you will seek to have clear and honest communication with your higher power, asking it to guide you toward good decisions in all of your life’s affairs.
Finally, step 12 encourages you to take what you have learned from this process and pass it along to others who may be struggling with addiction issues of their own.
Are These Programs Available for Non-Religious People?
One of the benefits of this model is that it allows people of all religions, or no religion at all, to utilize the process. While the majority of the program literature may reference God, it does not define who that God is. Because of this, each individual can insert the God of their choosing.
If you are not religious or do not have a belief in any God, you can also practice the procedures. The only difference for you will be that you need to replace any reference to God with the higher power of your understanding. For example, if you do not believe in God but instead believe that nature is the supreme divine being amongst us, you would simply replace God with nature in your program.
How Effective Are These Types of Programs?
To measure the effectiveness of any type of treatment, you first must define success. For example, if measuring effectiveness means counting the percentage of people who complete treatment and then never return to using again, the number may be low. If you count the number of people who complete a program and then manage to get their lives back on track (even with a brief relapse), the number will be higher. If you measure success by the number of people who complete a program and learn life-changing lessons from that experience, the numbers are significantly higher.
Perhaps the best program to look at in terms of success is Alcoholics Anonymous because they are the group responsible for all other 12-step program models. There are currently over 2 million active members in AA groups across the world today, with 1.3 million residing in the United States. In 2007, the average length of sobriety for their members was 8 years. They also reported that 31% of their members had been sober for less than one year, 24% were sober for 1-5 years, 12% were sober for 5-10 years, and the remaining 33% were celebrating 10 or more years of sobriety.
The effectiveness and success rates of any program will ultimately rely on the individual who is seeking treatment. Every person is unique, and what works for some will certainly not work for all. The most important thing is seeking treatment in the first place. If you know you have a problem, reach out and get help today.
How Can These Programs Help After Rehab?
One of the biggest benefits of these programs is that they offer an incredible support network. Many people complete a rehab program and go out into life thinking they are okay. But let’s face it – life happens! Difficult times and challenging moments are going to pop up, and without the support of peers who are also trying to maintain sobriety, it can be extremely difficult to succeed. Without the support of the people who understand best what you are going through, a relapse could occur. Rehab programs, by nature, set you up to meet a support network of others who are overcoming addiction.
The great thing about these programs is that they are everywhere and for just about any type of addiction. Meetings are held virtually around the clock, every day of the week. When life suddenly throws you a curveball, you can always attend a meeting near you where you can find help and support for whatever issue you are facing.
Where Can I Attend Meetings in Denver?
You can find a number of 12-step meetings in Denver, Colorado by going online and searching for the type of meeting you are looking for. Here are a couple of links to specific groups:
Denver Recovery Center also offers these programs as part of our rehabilitation program. For many people, beginning recovery with rehab is the best way to achieve sobriety. Our personalized rehab programs take the underlying theme of 12-step programs, which is developing positive mental health strategies, and allow you to just focus on them for a period of time without the distractions of everyday life. This development can help you throughout your recovery journey, providing you with the valuable tools you need to handle stress and triggers without resorting to drug or alcohol use.
Call Denver Recovery Center Now to Start Your Recovery.
The first step of any recovery is reaching out and looking for help. Denver Recovery Center is here to help you start your journey towards a healthy and happy life in sobriety. Call us today at (844) 602-3175 to speak with an admissions counselor and learn more about our program.
We are proud to offer a holistic approach to treatment that treats the mind, body, and soul. We understand that no two people are alike, and neither are any two addictions. That’s why we customize an individual treatment plan for each of our clients. Our staff is devoted to the success and future of each of our patients.
Don’t wait another day. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, call Denver Recovery Center right now. Don’t wait another moment to start your journey to sobriety.