The 12 step programme has been helping alcoholics and addicts to recover for over 75 years. Very much an experiential programme, Steps 1 through to 12 of the programme are designed to bring about total acceptance of the illness, then offer a permanent solution to alcoholism and addiction. The programme is spiritual not religious – that is to say that recovery is built on spiritual principles such as honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. It also requires the individual to take responsibility for themselves through a commitment to taking action to overcome their alcoholism or addiction on a daily basis.
The 12 step programme is often described as an ego-reduction programme, with individuals being encouraged to look at their part in life situations, rather than investing time in blaming other people for example. Once the individual realises that they must look primarily at their own behaviour, they start to discover new skills and resources for dealing with life’s problems. They realise they have choices which were not apparent to them before, due to the chaos of drinking and using drugs.
The programme provides a safe structure for individuals to process potentially destructive emotions such as fear, resentment, false pride, anger, as well as manage emotions such as happiness and excitement which can present their own challenges.
Here is a quick breakdown of what each step is about…
Step 1: Taking an honest look at the past to break denial around the illness, in order to gain full acceptance that drinking or using is no longer an option.