The Importance of a 12-Step Program

The Importance of a 12-Step Program

How meetings help battle substance abuse disorder and addiction:

Until an addict seeks treatment, it is a solitary life. Every day is filled with drug seeking, taking, craving and seeking some more. It is a lonely existence. Starting treatment ends that solitary lifestyle and begins a path filled with support that typically includes a 12-step program. Participation in such programs has psychological, emotional and spiritual benefits in the following areas.


A 12-step program encourages those who have been in recovery for at least a year, to mentor those who are new to the program using sponsors. A sponsor is a person the addict turns to for advice and guidance, not only in relation to recovery but often for other life questions such as parenting, budgeting, friendships. This mentorship allows the addict to reach out to the sponsor for support any time the desire to use comes into the picture. Knowing that there is someone who will hold the addict accountable can provide a deterrent to relapse.

Social Outlet

Early recovery typically involves staying away from old friends and old hangouts. Attending meetings provides a social environment filled with like-minded individuals. Many members of such groups take part in things outside of the meeting, such as sharing meals, hikes, sports and other healthy-minded activities. This can help a person with substance use disorder begin new friendships and bonding experiences.


Part of the success rate for those who have avoided relapse for years, is the accountability in 12-step programs. Substance use disorder depends on isolation. Attending several meetings a week keeps recovery at the forefront of that person’s mind just knowing he or she will be facing peers in recovery every day or two. Accountability is a key factor to 12-step success.


Addiction leads to chaos. Recovery leads to structure and productivity. Committing to and attending meetings helps structure the week, which in turn feels productive. Consistent behaviors are important for those in recovery. It shows while reading the literature out loud during meetings and closing with the Serenity Prayer. Research has shown those who are most successful in long-term recovery are those who continue to attend 12-step meetings several times per week.


The concept of 12-step programs is based on a “higher power”. Program literature stresses that the higher power does not have to be the same for every member. Instead, each person turns the addiction over to the higher power as that person understands it. In addition, each member is expected to work the 12-steps. These are designed to take the member through acceptance of powerlessness, an inventory of those he or she has hurt, an effort to make amends when able and other important “steps” to emotional, spiritual and psychological repair.

Utah has the 7th highest overdose rate in the nation. The first step to recovery is reaching out for help. If you or someone you love suffers from substance use disorder, contact The Haven, located in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tags: recovery, 12-step , sponsorship

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