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Are 12-Step Programs Just Replacing Addiction With Religion?

Confronting substance abuse is an overwhelming task, especially when faced with the prospect of doing it alone. Treatment facilities like The Guest House can be the best method of fighting substance abuse and stepping onto the path of recovery.

Many facilities use 12-Step meetings as a treatment method in addition to their numerous other therapeutic modalities. But those who have never experienced a 12-Step program in person may be misled by rumors that 12-Step programs require strict religious beliefs or practices. As a result, they could be dissuaded from experiencing them with an open mind because of this perception. However, studies show that participating in a 12-Step program in recovery leads to a higher rate of success.

What Is a 12-Step Program?

The Twelve Steps originated when Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), began writing the book in 1938 that is now called the “Big Book.” The steps were meant as a literal and spiritual set of practices that would allow people to hold themselves and each other accountable on the path to recovery. The main message of the steps is: to admit that we have a problem we can’t control and that we need help beyond just ourselves; to live an honest and intentional life; and to help others when we are able. This is a very abbreviated summary of the steps, but their message is that simple.

Do I Have to Be Religious to Be in a 12-Step Program?

Absolutely not. The only reference to spirituality in the steps is the notion of a higher power. Originally, the most common conception of a higher power was understood to be the God of the most popular religion of the region and time. But in modern times, the notion of a higher power is entirely up to the participant. A higher power could be the support of others, the idea of a better you, or even a deity you choose to believe in and look to for support. No one in the program should tell you who or what your higher power is. That is a personal choice that only you can make.

After that, the steps are practical approaches to life that do not mandate religious beliefs. They are a step-by-step guide on how to begin to clean up the messes we may have made while under the influence of substances, advice on how to live a life without making further messes, and finally, a guide for holding each other accountable and helping each other through life’s challenges.

The Twelve Steps are not a mandate or requirement for recovery. Many people have shown tremendous success in their healing through the use of a 12-Step program and the support that comes with it. Whether or not it is for you is entirely up to you. You owe yourself and your recovery every advantage out there, so exploring all the methods that have been proven to work are the first steps you should take.

There are many opinions out there on how and why we should start a life of recovery. If you have considered seeking treatment for substance abuse, you have no doubt discovered that there are a lot of different opinions. It is essential to seek the advice of mental health care professionals above all others. They can help you along the path of recovery and support you with every step. If you or someone you love struggles with substance abuse and would like to learn more, The Guest House can help. Call (855) 483-7800 for more information.