When it comes to creating long-term sobriety beyond addiction detox and treatment, the oldest and probably most well-known 12-step program is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson, AA has been the dominant support group of alcoholics for over eight decades. In fact, most addiction treatment centers integrate at least some form of the 12-steps into their addiction treatment programs. In this way, addicts can (at the very least) find daily support for their recovery in almost every city/town in America.
AA is a faith-based 12-step program. individuals are directed to admit their lack of control over both alcohol / drugs and turn themselves over to a God (of your understanding). While the roots of AA are based in Christianity, the program is intended to be nonspecific regarding religious conviction and more a focus on a spiritual emergence.
Like many things in life, addiction recovery is not a “one-size-fits-all” process, the same is valid for addiction support groups. AA has been found to not be nearly as effective as people may think but it’s tough to get trustworthy data since Alcoholics Anonymous is a completely anonymous support group. We go by first names only and respect the anonymity of each other.
Do 12-Step Programs Really Work?
I’ve gone to Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and the short answer is I don’t know. What I do know is that is has been working for me for the last 7 years and the large number of folks who I have met in the program. AA is largely untouched since its start. Also, it is a simple program for complicated people (I happened to be one of them). For example, drug addiction and alcoholism create fear and uncertainty. At the very same time, AA and the 12-steps will stabilize you and allow you to find peace and happiness in your daily life. With this in mind, the 12-steps shows us how our lives became unmanageable as a result of our drinking or drug use.
The individuals who attend 12-step meetings come from all walks of life. There are the newly sober, those coming back into recovery after relapse, the long-time veterans, and everything in-between. But the one thing they all share is they can't cope with their own lives if they are drinking and using. Perhaps most importantly, they want to help the newcomer to achieve what they have – long-term sobriety!
Are There Any Other Supports Groups Beyond 12-Steps?
Following 12-step programs, probably the largest recovery support program is SMART Recovery. SMART is an acronym for Self-Management and Recovery Training. SMART Recovery is an abstinence-based, not-for-profit program with a practical self-help ideology for people having issues with alcohol and drug abuse. Basically, SMART Recovery teaches common sense self-help practices designed to encourage you to abstain and to develop a more constructive lifestyle. While not the same as AA, there are many common aspects. SMART Recovery has gained steam over the last five years with meetings popping up everywhere. According to their website, they are now international.
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is probable the biggest large-scale addition to addiction care. As a medical protocol, MAT is supported by behavioral therapy and addiction supports. MAT has been the fastest growing addiction treatment modality in the wake of growing overdose deaths. It is largely viewed as harm reduction It is also known as Suboxone (buprenorphine) treatment, which is used as a modality to abate dangerous cravings and withdrawals. This allows the individual to focus on their therapy without symptom distraction.
Addiction Recovery is Not One-Size-Fits-All
There is always hope and recovery is viable for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be AA or another 12-step program. The bottom line is if a program helps you get sober, and stay sober, then go with it. Sobriety is not a competition, nor should the way someone gets sober be assessed by their peers. It is as individual as you are! Studies have indicated that those who remain clean for at least five years have a relapse rate of less than 15 percent, and support programs are a big part of what makes that possible.
Simple Path Recovery is a beach side, boutique addiction treatment center located in Pompano Beach, FL. Recognized as an intimate Florida Drug & Alcohol Rehab, Simple Path is committed to individualized care, 12-step integration, and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Their addiction helpline is available 24/7 at 855-467-3625.
About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Website Design and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida. His sober date is June 10, 2013.