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Truths and Myths About 12 Step


Many people question the effectiveness of 12-step treatment.

Although there are a lot of reasons to embrace the 12-step program at Banyan Massachusetts and all around the globe, there are also a lot of rumors and misconceptions about these programs that muddy the principles they stand for. We’ve identified a few basic truths and myths about 12-step programs to clear up any confusion.


Brief History of The 12 Steps

The original 12-step program was created in the 1930s by a group called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an organization that’s well-known for the global support it offers to people in recovery from addiction. Their 12-step treatment approach was originally intended for alcoholics but was eventually expanded to help individuals struggling with all types of substance use disorders in their recovery. Although this program has a long and established history of helping millions of people in their fight against addiction, others still struggle to understand its principles. Many people believe in certain misconceptions about the 12-step program and find it difficult to understand how the program works and why it’s beneficial.


What Are the 12 Steps In a 12-Step Program?

In order to tackle any 12-step stigmas, we must first know what these 12 steps are:1

Some cognitive dissonance theory examples in everyday life include:

      • 1.Admitting you’re powerless over alcohol (or drugs) and that your life has become unmanageable
      • 2.Coming to believe in a higher power that could restore you to sanity
      • 3.Deciding to turn your will and life over to God as you understand Him
      • 4.Making an honest and fearless moral inventory of yourself
      • 5.Admitting to God, yourself, and to another person the nature of your wrongdoings
      • 6.Being entirely ready for God to remove these defects
      • 7.Humbly asking God to remove your shortcomings
      • 8.Making a list of all the people you’ve harmed and being willing to reconcile with them
      • 9.Making direct amends with the people on your list in any way possible, except if it causes harm to you, them, or others
      • 10.Taking personal inventory and admitting when you’re wrong
      • 11.Seeking to improve your relationship with God (as you understand Him) through meditation and praying only for the understanding of His will for you and the power to carry that out
      • 12.Experiencing a spiritual awakening because of these steps, carrying out this message to other addicts, and practicing these principles in all things


12-step treatment is one of the various addiction therapies offered at Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts. These therapies are meant to supplement patients’ rehab programs by addressing the underlying issues of substance abuse. Our programs can help you or someone you know achieve long-term sobriety.


Truths and Myths About 12-Step Programs for Addiction

Below are a few myths about the 12-step process that we’ve debunked.


Myth #1: The Program Is a Religion

Fact: Although the original 12-step program holds onto certain spiritual philosophies and practices, such as prayer, the program itself is not a religion. Members are free to belong to any religion of their choosing and even the 12 steps specifically advise members to pray and submit to God as they understand Him. The point of encouraging members to seek out a higher power is to strengthen them spiritually and mentally against the repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse.


Myth #2: The 12-Step Program Is a Cult

Fact: The 12-step method follows a list of principles. These steps are used to help members identify problems, find solutions, and suggest positive ways to change their behaviors. Cults, on the other hand, focus on one person (or leader), enforce a certain mentality that all members must agree with, and punish members if they think differently or attempt to leave the group. Participants of the 12-step program are free to think for themselves, believe in whatever they choose to believe in, and leave the group whenever they want.


Myth #3: Members Have to Think the Same Way

Fact: Members are free to think for themselves and share their personal experiences. A big part of the 12 steps is to promote community and peer support through conversation with others. Members are encouraged to share their achievements and struggles and embrace each others’ differences. What makes this program so unique is members’ freedom to come together under one cause while embracing their differences. The 12-step program is just one of the many methods that can be used to help people get sober.


Myth #4 The 12-Step Program Is Only for Older Adults

Fact: People of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to attend 12-step meetings. Attendees actually have the freedom to select the meetings they want to attend; these meetings include people of all walks of life. Because AA is a global organization, people from all backgrounds are brought together to share the common desire for sobriety.


Myth #5: Stories at 12-Step Meetings Cause Addiction Cravings

Fact: For the most part, meetings focus on developing relapse prevention strategies. However, discussion occasionally comes up that involves members’ past experiences in which they describe their drug or alcohol abuse. Some addicts may struggle with drug or alcohol cravings when they hear these stories. Leaders are well aware of this possibility and work to monitor and manage discussions that are counterproductive to the meeting.


Myth #6: The Program Tries to Convince Non-Addicts That They’re Addicts

Fact: The 12 steps and principles of the program include several qualifying questions that the individuals need to answer themselves to determine whether they classify as an addict. That being said, this program does not force any ideals on members and does not allow members to be part of discussions or groups unless they confirm that they’re an addict.


Myth #7: Meetings Are Always Sad

Fact: You have to consider that people in these meetings once experienced an intense relationship with a substance that was causing them severe harm. Addiction is almost like a love-hate relationship with drugs and alcohol. “Breaking up” with drugs and alcohol can equate to a legitimate heartbreak that can be hard to recover from. Members may share their hurt, but positive and joyful discussions about good things that have happened since members chose to become sober are also encouraged.


Myth #8: Meetings Are Boring

Fact: On the contrary, meetings often contain a lot of laughter and tears. Members are encouraged to share both their positive and negative experiences. With so many people involved, how could these groups ever be boring? These are everyday people coming together to share their milestones and breaking points, creating honest and heartfelt discussions that are encouraging and eye-opening.


Myth# 9: Everyone Complains During Meetings

Fact: Everyone faces challenges in their life, and it can help to vent to others. That’s why it can seem like attendees are complaining. However, complaining is discouraged at meetings and members are instead encouraged to utilize the principles of the 12 steps when they face any challenges.


Myth #10: Twelve-Step Programs Don’t Work

Fact: It’s difficult for researchers to actually pinpoint specific success rates and statistics regarding 12-step meetings. Members may change their addresses or phone numbers after they stop attending meetings or may ignore any follow-up attempts. Regardless, 12-step programs are commonly used as supplemental treatment in many rehab facilities because they’re beneficial. The 12-step approach works well with drug and alcohol treatment programs because it offers a safe space where people in recovery can come together under the same cause.


So, does the 12-step program really work? Yes, it does, and it tends to work best when combined with other addiction levels of care. If you want to learn more about the 12-step program and substance-specific treatments at our drug and alcohol rehab in Massachusetts, call us now at 888-280-4763


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Truths and Myths About 12 Step
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