History and overview of 12-Step Addiction Treatment

Originally proposed and established in 1935 by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) as a recovery technique, the 12 Step Addiction Treatment program now encompasses the issues of dependency and substance abuse/addiction as well.  Addictions come in all shapes and sizes.  It’s not just about alcohol and drugs anymore because certain behaviors are also considered to be addictions, such as gambling and pornography.  Regardless of the type of addiction that is being addressed, one is no less significant than another.

After several years, the 12-Step Program was adopted by other noteworthy organizations that made it the foundation of their different treatment and recovery programs.  These include well-known organizations such as:

  • Co-Dependents Anonymous
  • Debtors Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Marijuana Anonymous
  • Opiates Anonymous
  • Gambler Anonymous

The 12-Step process, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), has been summarized as involving the following and being the core of the 12-Step philosophy:

  • admitting that you cannot control your addictions or compulsions
  • enlisting the help of a sponsor (experienced member) to examine your past bad decisions and behavior
  • helping others who are suffering from the same addictions or compulsions
  • learning a new code of behavior to live your new life by
  • making amends for your bad decisions and behavior
  • recognizing that you can gain strength from a greater power

The function of the 12-Step Program

The 12 Step addiction treatment program is just as the name implies.  There are 12 steps involved in the treatment and recovery process, no matter what the addiction is.  For all practical purposes it is a set of guidelines or guiding principles which outline courses of action for the recovery from:

  • addiction
  • compulsive behavior
  • other types of behavioral issues

In addition to the 12 steps of the program, there is a coinciding 12 traditions, which is a set of guidelines that focus on the governing of oneself and one’s behavior.  They were also developed by AA in conjunction with the 12-Step Program to help resolve internal conflict, especially where finances, publicity, and religion are concerned.  Most of the 12-step fellowships out there have adopted these in order to govern their structure.

The structure of the human being is represented symbolically on a 3-dimension basis – mental, physical, and spiritual.  The problems of the group members are addressed because they are eventually manifested on all three levels when there is an addiction issue present.  No matter which level we are dealing with, there is an illness that is in place that the addicted individual needs to be treated for and recover from.  In most rehab programs, the 12 Step addiction treatment program has played a critical role as the primary therapy employed during the recovery process.