In light of and despite of the exponential growth of information and applying new ingenious interventions in residential addiction treatment programs, 12 Step Recovery remains the foundation which appears to save more lives than any other approach. The number of research papers that show the efficacy of providing 12 step involvements during addiction treatment and successful results (i.e. abstinence) months out of treatment can fill up a 50 bed residential treatment center.
Whether the addiction is to alcohol, narcotics, food binging, starving, gambling, shopping, sexing or working, there’s a 12 step program for it. The simple reason for the popularity of 12 step programs is that this process works. And, now that 12 step programs can take the brunt of jokes from TV talk shows and in movies, it means that this form of therapy has worked its way into the modern psyche and lexicon.
The stigma of addiction certainly exists but to a lesser degree than in decades past. A person can’t go to any foreign country without being able to find a 12 step meeting. Who would have thought that 7 decades ago a broken down drunk of a businessman and a surgeon with a reputation for alcoholic tremors could have created a simple program that has helped more folks achieve sobriety than anyone else ever thought of.
The disease of addiction can be cunning, baffling and powerful. And while so many professionals have dedicated their careers to finding ways to improve and enhance treatment outcomes, 12 step recovery just can’t be left out of the programmatic mix. We can add holistic therapies, cognitive behavioral therapies such as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), we can add expressive art therapies and we can toss in experiential therapies such as wilderness challenges and ropes courses, yet we still rely on the Steps and principles from AA to see ‘success’ rates climb.
In recovery we enter into paradox: admit powerlessness to acquire strength, embrace hope when we’re agnostic, surrender to achieve victory. This quite a challenge for the sober let alone a person waking up engulfed in despair! 12 Step Recovery shouldn’t work as well as it does; it’s a miracle we have this program to build on.
From times past when the aphorism was 12 step recovery isn’t for everyone, it’s now more common to hear that there’s a 12 step program for everyone. It works when we work it.