12 Steps Programs: A Comprehensive Guide to Vista Taos Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment

12 steps programs are designed to help individuals maintain lasting recovery. Read on to learn more about the benefits of these programs.

Introduction to 12 Steps Programs

12 steps programs were developed in the 1930s to support recovery from drug, substance, and alcohol addiction. It has been further developed to also help patients with behavioral addictions and, sometimes, mental health conditions.

At Vista Taos Renewal Center, our 12 steps programs encourage our patients to maintain lasting recovery from addiction.
12 steps programs

How Do 12 Steps Programs Work?

Although the 12 steps program is based on spiritual beliefs, the program is still helpful to non-religious individuals. Various support groups have embraced it as a means to guide individuals through a process of acceptance and transformation during recovery.

Addiction to drug and alcohol use poses a serious risk to physical and mental health. If left untreated, it may eventually lead to loss of life. About 28.3 million Americans currently have an alcohol use disorder. Also, over 70,000 deaths occur due to addiction and overdose in the US annually.1

The Core Principles of 12 Steps Programs

These programs are based on a set of core principles and objectives. At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we use these principles to support and assist our patients with recovery.
Yet again, while many of these principles were first created with spirituality in mind, you do not have to adhere to these ideas if you are not religious. Here are the key core principles of 12 steps programs:2

Acknowledgment of Powerlessness

Acknowledging the impact of addiction on one’s life is the first step toward recovery. Individuals who struggle with addiction must first admit that they have become powerless. They must also admit the hold that addiction has over their lives.
Acknowledgment requires the individual to be humble enough to understand the need to surrender control over addiction.

Higher Power or Spiritual Connection

This part encourages individuals to develop a relationship with a higher power. This step does not require the individual to be religious, as the interpretation of a “higher power” is left open to each individual’s understanding.
At Vista Taos, this step is more about acknowledging that there is a power greater than one’s willpower that could aid recovery. The spiritual aspect of this principle provides guidance, support, and a source of strength throughout the journey to recovery.

Turning One’s Will and Life Over to the Care of a Higher Power

The third step of 12 steps programs is about surrendering one’s life to the care of a higher power as the individual understands it. This step towards recovery builds upon the step of acknowledging powerlessness.


This involves introspection and self-examination. It involves taking an inventory of one’s past actions and behaviors. This step is crucial to an individual’s recovery process, as it encourages identifying actions and issues that could have contributed to addiction.
At Vista Taos, we encourage self-reflection and accountability during our patient’s recovery process.

Admitting to Ourselves and Others About Our Wrongdoings

The fifth step of 12 steps programs involves taking a courageous step by sharing the nature of one’s wrongs with another person. This individual is known as a sponsor. This step builds upon the self-reflection and accountability undertaken in the fourth step.

Being Entirely Ready to Let Go of Negative Behaviors

Being unwilling to let go of negative traits and behaviors can deter an individual’s recovery. According to the sixth step in 12 steps programs, individuals must mentally and emotionally prepare to let go of their negative behaviors.
At Vista Taos, we encourage our patients to acknowledge and work through their wrongs. This way, they can develop healthier coping skills

Humbly Asking the Higher Power to Remove Our Shortcomings

The next step requires humbly asking the higher power to remove one’s shortcomings. This step stems from the willingness expressed in step six to have these character flaws removed. It also recognizes that change often requires assistance and support from others.

Being Willing to Make Amends With Those We Have Hurt

Another step towards recovery from addiction is taking responsibility for the harm we have caused people around us. It starts by creating a list of those individuals and being open to asking for their forgiveness.
At Vista Taos, we help our patients take responsibility and initiate the process of repairing relationships.

Making Direct Amends to Individuals When Possible

This requires direct action to make amends with the individuals we have harmed. However, direct amends should only be made where it is feasible and won’t cause further harm. This step is essential as it focuses on repairing relationships, forgiveness, and correcting past wrongs.

Taking Personal Inventory and Promptly Admitting Wrong

By regularly examining one’s thoughts and actions, taking accountability and making amends becomes easier. This emphasizes the importance of accountability and addressing any emerging issues before they escalate.

Praying and Meditating to Improve Healing

This step encourages strengthening one’s connection with a higher power through meditation. This step is essential for maintaining emotional well-being and personal growth. We holistic care, such as meditation, at Vista Taos, as it helps cultivate a sense of mindfulness and serenity.

Helping Others with Addiction

The final part of 12 steps programs represents a full-circle transformation from addiction to a life of purpose. Individuals who have improved due to these programs are motivated to help others. This step emphasizes living a balanced life while maintaining the program’s core principles.

How the 12-Steps Programs Have Evolved

Since its creation in the 1930s with the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the concept of the 12 steps programs has evolved. It has also been adapted to address various addiction and behavioral issues.
While the fundamental principles of 12 steps programs remain consistent, its evolution addresses broader challenges and individual differences.
These other adaptations include organizations such as:3
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Heroin Anonymous (HA)
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA)
  • Dual Diagnosis Anonymous (DDA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

How 12 Steps Programs Fosters a Sense of Community Among Individuals in Recovery

12 steps programs fosters support and provides a platform for individuals in recovery to connect and support each other. This sense of community helps individuals navigate the challenges of recovery and their journey to healing and sobriety.
These programs develop community by providing:

Structured Meetings

Regular group meetings provide a safe space for individuals to share their stories, struggles, and successes. It offers a sense of routine and reassurance for people in recovery. At Vista Taos, we have support groups to encourage ongoing recovery.

Open Sharing

Support meetings allow individuals to share their personal experiences, challenges, and achievements. This open sharing promotes vulnerability and authenticity, fostering a sense of belonging.


Committing to attending meetings, sharing progress, and working through individual challenges encourages accountability. It also helps individuals stay focused on their recovery goals. Having a sponsor who provides guidance and a listening ear also encourages accountability.


Support groups also provide an avenue to help other people on their recovery journey. Helping others and receiving help reinforce that recovery is a shared journey.

How Adaptable Are 12 Steps Programs to Addiction?

12 steps programs are known for their adaptability and flexibility in addressing various types of addiction. The principles of the 12 steps programs have been applied to a wide range of addictive behaviors.
Here’s how these programs are adaptable to different types of addiction:

Specialized Fellowships

Over the years, specialized 12 steps fellowships have emerged to address specific addictions beyond alcohol addiction. These fellowships tailor the 12-step approach to the unique challenges of each addiction and individual.
Depending on your needs, you can utilize 12 steps programs for your symptoms as well. At Vista Taos, we will curate a plan specific to your needs and the kind of support you require.

Individual Interpretation of Higher Power

The concept of a higher power under 12 steps programs is subject to individual interpretation. At Vista Taos, we encourage our patients to interpret a higher power in a way meaningful to them.
This flexibility allows people with different spiritual beliefs or no religious affiliation to participate and find value in the programs.

Personal Reflections and Amends

The steps involving self-reflection, making amends, and seeking personal growth apply to various addictive behaviors. This encourages individuals to take responsibility for their actions and make positive changes. At Vista Taos, we guide our patients in making amends and restoring relationships.

Potential Criticisms of 12 Steps Programs

While these programs have been widely embraced and have helped many individuals achieve and maintain sobriety, they are not without criticism.
There have been varying opinions as to the effectiveness and appropriateness of these programs. Some common criticisms of 12 step programs include:4

Emphasis on Spirituality

The spiritual emphasis in the steps can be off-putting for individuals who do not identify with or practice a traditional concept of spirituality or a higher power. 
Some critics argue that this emphasis may exclude or alienate those with different belief systems, even though the system has been modified to include those who are not religious.

Lack of Scientific Basis

Critics argue that the 12-steps programs need a stronger scientific foundation to support their effectiveness. Some believe the spiritual and faith-based aspects must be more consistent with evidence-based treatment approaches.

One-Size-Fits-All Approach

Critics argue that 12 steps programs follow an approach that may not meet the unique needs of every individual. They also believe that the program needs to be more in touch with an emerging science-based approach toward a disease that affects the brain.

Relapse and Failure

It has been argued that the programs may inadvertently stigmatize individuals who relapse or struggle with maintaining sobriety. Critics believe that emphasizing “one day at a time” may not adequately prepare individuals for potential setbacks.

How Do 12 Steps Programs Complement Other Forms of Addiction Treatment?

12 step programs can complement other forms of addiction treatment by providing a framework that reinforces the principles and strategies necessary for recovery. Integrating these programs with other treatment approaches can create a comprehensive and well-rounded recovery plan.
Here’s how the 12 steps programs can complement various forms of addiction treatment:
  • It provides a supportive community that can enhance other treatment methods
  • It can serve as aftercare to help individuals maintain their progress and prevent relapse
  • It complements structured treatment programs, such as therapy
  • It addresses the emotional and psychological aspects of recovery
  • It helps individuals develop coping skills and stress management techniques

Factors Individuals Should Consider When Choosing the Right Approach for Their Recovery

Choosing the right approach for recovery is a personal and important decision. Therefore, it is essential to consider various factors to ensure that the approach aligns with your needs and circumstances.
Here are some factors that are important to consider when selecting the right approach for addiction recovery:
  • Type of addiction
  • Severity of addiction
  • Other mental health conditions
  • Personal beliefs and values
  • Support network
  • Personal goals
  • Accessibility
  • Financial consideration
  • Sustainability
  • Aftercare and continued support
12 steps programs

How Can Vista Taos Renewal Center Help with Addiction Recovery and Support?

Are you struggling with drug and alcohol use? Are you ready to take charge of your life and embark on a path of recovery and renewal? Look no further – our 12 steps programs at Vista Taos Renewal Center are here for you.

Our program provides a safe and supportive approach to treating addiction. We offer a holistic approach to healing and address the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of addiction.

Our individualized 12-step program is here to help you develop the skills and strategies you need to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.

What Do We Offer?

Beyond 12 steps programs, we also provide evidence-based therapies, medical detox, and extended care. This is to ensure that you get the support you need during healing.
Our treatment providers will work with you to create the best plan for your symptoms. This may include a variety of treatments, such as 12 steps programs.

Get in Touch With Us

Contact us today to begin your healing journey. We will be with you every step of the way.

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Ready to Renew Your Life and Well-Being?

Reach out to Vista Taos Renewal Center today and let us guide you toward sustainable recovery. We will help you heal from the addictions and substance use challenges that hinder you from leading your most fulfilled life through personalized, whole-person treatment.