The 12 steps are used in many rehab centres as an effective addiction treatment. In drug rehab, the approach is popular in guiding clients to recovery, but there are often misconceptions about its application. The 12 steps were initially created as a treatment method in Alcoholics Anonymous groups. However, its success led to the approach being used in recovery for many other forms of addiction. Instead of just treating alcohol addiction, the 12 steps are now used to treat addictions to drugs including ecstasy, ketamine, cannabis and heroin. Successful recovery from these substances requires detox, abstinence and lifestyle change which are both found using the 12 steps. You can find out how this approach benefits drug rehab treatment below.
*If you are detoxing from heroin or other drugs that require medical intervention, always seek the help of a professional, it can be life threatening if not treated properly.
What are the 12 steps?
As the name suggests, there are 12 steps that a client must overcome in this recovery approach, reaching a place of sobriety and fulfilment. Each step takes the client on a journey combatting emotional and spiritual issues that may have caused their addiction. You can think of the steps as levels, so you would only progress to the next step once you have mastered the previous one. Each client may have a different experience with each step depending on their own circumstances but will be supported to confront challenging issues. The steps include principles of honesty, acceptance, faith and forgiveness to encourage a healthier lifestyle and eventually support others through their own recovery.
What the 12 steps teach
Clients will learn a series of lessons as they master each step in the treatment plan – taking ownership and resolving their mistakes. You can see that the focus of the approach is to overcome emotional or spiritual issues that may contribute to addiction. Clients will be supported through a variety of group therapy sessions where they can explore past experiences, gain insight into themselves, and learn from others. By doing so, clients will learn how to utilise discipline in their life, make positive choices, and understand how to care for emotional and spiritual needs. This discipline is an essential part of drug addiction recovery, as it supports the willpower to refrain from repeating negative behaviour.
Why the 12 steps help drug recovery
We have highlighted that the 12 steps have a spiritual element, and this can often deter people from the treatment. However, religion is a misconception of the 12 steps. The only requirement to embark on the treatment is the desire to stop taking drugs. Initially, the 12-step approach was built on the foundations of religion, but as it has grown in popularity, this has been replaced with a belief in any higher power, be it spiritual or literal. The idea of a higher power is key as it supports many of the steps (such as faith, integrity and acceptance). It helps clients to build lifelong values and supports the commitment to change, which is an essential part of drug rehab. If you have never considered your spiritual beliefs, you can still be supported by this recovery approach, as the higher power can be anything that you can resonate with.
How to use the 12 steps
The emotional and spiritual aspects of the 12 steps stand out from other treatment methods, as they instil a sense of belonging and a belief structure that can be followed in daily life. However, this approach alone cannot provide you with a full recovery, as it neglects the physical aspect of addiction. Addiction to harmful substances, such as heroin, can require detox medication to safely remove the substance from your body. Trying to abstain without additional treatment presents significant risks to your health. The 12-step approach is used in combination with other treatments to build a holistic treatment programme that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual nature of addiction.
The 12-step approach isn’t the only form of drug addiction treatment. There are other therapies that are offered in drug rehab (such as CBT and family therapy), and some people may prefer alternative treatment methods. Jason Shiers Certified Psychotherapist and Transformative Coach says “There is a place in everyone, beyond beliefs and concepts, that is innately healthy” this is a completely different approach to addiction. The 12-step approach is a widely acknowledged method of drug addiction treatment because so many aspects of the approach are essential to recovery in drug rehab. Addiction to drugs consumes your whole life, and even when the physical drug-taking is treated, it is your emotional and spiritual issues can often lead to a relapse. The discipline, commitment, and belonging that is taught by the 12 steps offers the long-term element of recovery that is attributed to its success.