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The 12-Step Program Defined

Probably the most common approach to dealing with addiction is the twelve step program. This has been made popular by people seeking help for alcohol addiction however a great many addictions are also treated in the same way. The success rate varies depending on what you are addicted to, it works well for alcoholics but not so well for users of illegal drugs. Therefore it is important to understand how the program works so that you can decide if it is right for you.

A twelve step program is based on the idea that as addicts you need to take responsibility for your getting over your addiction. The steps basically involve a self assessment and then taking responsibility for the things that you have done. The success rate of these programs has been good in some areas but not so good in others and as a result these programs have become somewhat controversial. Nevertheless a large number of people have been helped by these types of programs and that is the most important thing so it may be worthwhile to look into one of these programs.

Far and away the most successful of the twelve step programs has been Alcoholics Anonymous. The reason for this seems to be that alcohol addiction is one where the physiological effects can be overcome by will power. Twelve step programs have been far less successful with things like addiction to illegal drugs. The reason is that it takes a lot more than will power to get over your addiction because of the physical dependence. That being said a twelve step program can be useful if it is used in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

The reason that twelve step programs work probably has more to do with the support that you get from other members than it does from the steps themselves. Certainly some people benefit from the steps but the support does seem to be far more important. A big part of this is that new members of the group are given a sponsor to help them through the program, this person is important in most people's progress. Knowing that there are other people going through the same thing as you is a huge help for many people and this is probably the more useful part of the program.

The biggest criticism that has been leveled at most twelve step programs is the religious aspect that they include. Obviously this is going to make the program less likely to work for people who are not religious. There is also something of a mixed message in that the steps require that you acknowledge that you can't control your addiction on your own because you need the help of god and the other steps that say that you are responsible for your own actions. This aspect of the program does turn a lot of people off.