The 12 Steps are a famous system founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. The intention of their 12 Step group, Alcoholics Anonymous or AA, was to help people who struggled with alcohol addiction to live a healthy, alcohol-free life. The system and the community they established have spread all over the world and helped millions of people.
Many alcohol treatment centers use the 12 Steps as part of their program, and many others don’t. Whether or not the alcohol treatment center you choose uses the 12 Steps, here are some important facts you need to know.
- AA truly helps. Alcoholics Anonymous helps countless numbers of people. It’s not the only structure for recovery, but over 75 years it has proven to be a very effective one. There are websites full of testimonials from people whose lives have been transformed through AA.
- AA is accessible. It’s pretty easy to find and attend an AA meeting. Chances are good that there are several in your town and probably one right around the corner. Inconvenience is almost never a good reason for not attending AA.
- AA is about what happens after rehab. The alcohol addiction treatment you’ll experience in any inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment center isn’t usually based on AA. Rather, AA is there for you when you leave an official treatment plan and begin life on your own. Many alcohol treatment centers establish AA groups or refer their clients to those groups as part of their relapse prevention programs. Recovery is a lifelong process, and AA is one very effective way to get the support you need to stay on the path.
- AA won’t keep you from relapsing. Some people who attend AA go back to drinking. AA only offers one day without drinking—today. But that’s all anyone can do. Recovery is a step by step process, and AA will help you take today’s step. AA is essentially a group of recovering addicts helping each other get through one more day—and if one of them fails, the others help that person start over again, with a new series of one-more-days.
- AA is only one part of recovery. Recovery begins the moment you pick up the phone and call an alcohol treatment center. It includes researching programs, talking to your family, going through supervised medical detox, intensive individual, group, and family counseling, and planning for a life without drinking. AA members can give you the help you need when living out the mental and emotional resources you will gain through these other methods, but AA alone is usually not enough.
- There are alternatives to AA. AA isn’t a perfect system for recovery. Some people object to its “higher power” centered philosophy, and feel that such a spiritual basis is unnecessary for the recovery process. Other do not feel that total lifelong abstinence from alcohol is always necessary; learning moderation and control of drinking is a more desirable goal. AA isn’t the only recovery support group available, and you might choose something different to support you in your recovery.
- You need AA…or something. The most important thing is to find ongoing support to assist you from day to day. AA groups are easy to find and very well known, but no matter what group you choose, your ongoing recovery requires that you have support and help when you need it. And many people find it important and meaningful to help others with their recovery as well. Whatever you choose, choose to get the support you need to stay sober and healthy.