12 Step Drug Dependency Programs

12 Step drug dependency programs are based on the 12 Steps used by Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 Step programs have been working for alcoholics and drug addicts for years. Keep reading to see if these drug addiction recovery programs are for you, or your loved one.

12 Step drug dependency programs help many people with addictions, but they may not be the right approach for everyone.

The 12 Steps were created by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, and they proved to be very successful for many people. The 12 Steps have been modified so they can be applied to all types of addictions, and they are used in many self-help groups. Over 6 million adults use self-help recovery groups each year, many of them following the 12 Steps. 12 Step drug dependency programs seem to work for many people, and some people use them alone to treat addiction, but they are usually more helpful when combined with professional medical care and drug abuse treatment.

The 12 Steps to Recovery are:

  • Admit that you are powerless over your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable
  • Believe that a higher power can help you restore your life
  • Decide to turn your life and your will over to God (or your higher power) as you understand Him
  • Make a moral inventory of yourself
  • Admit to God, yourself, and another person exactly what you have done wrong
  • Be ready to let God take away your wrong doings and shortcomings
  • Ask God to take them away
  • Make a list of the people you have harmed and be ready to make amends to them
  • Make amends to the people on your list, unless doing so would somehow cause harm to them or another person
  • Make an ongoing inventory of yourself and admit when you are wrong
  • Seek to know God better through prayer and meditation
  • Try to give this message to other addicts and live each day by these principles

To use the 12 Step drug dependency programs, the person needs to start with the first step, admitting that they have a problem. They also need to find either a sponsor to help guide them through the process, or at least someone to whom they can be accountable during and after their recovery.

It is easiest to use the 12 Step drug dependency program through a self-help group. 12-Step groups are usually self-guided, meaning there is no professional overseeing the meetings like in a therapy group. New members receive guidance from older members until they are ready to begin helping others. These groups are usually free. Groups that meet face to face are best, but there are online addiction support groups as well. If using an online program, make sure it has good privacy practices and that it is private and moderated.

12-Step drug dependency programs can be used while a person is in a formal recovery or drug rehab program or after they are released from rehab. The 12 Steps can help during treatment and during recovery. Some people go straight to a 12-Step program without formal treatment, depending on their personality and their particular addiction. If a person needs to detox, however, this should usually be done under medical supervision.

The 12-Step program promises peace, happiness, freedom, and a process of turning from oneself to others, as well as learning to face life better and feeling more confidence. For many people these promises hold true, and the 12-Step program has helped many people stay clean.

12-Step drug dependency programs are not for everyone. People who don't believe in God or a higher power generally don't benefit from the program. For others it just isnít the right approach for their situation. For these people there are many alternative drug recovery programs that do not use the 12 Steps, like SMART Recovery and Women for Sobriety.

Drug addiction can not be cured, but a support group can help a person stay in recovery and avoid relapsing into drug use.


Narcotics Anonymous, "Basic Text" [online]
Workgroup on Substance Abuse Self-Help Organizations, "Self-help organizations for alcohol and drug problems" [online]
United States Department of Labor, Working Partners for an Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace, "Recovery" [online]
Louisiana Integrated Treatment Services (LITS) Technical Assistance Bulletin (TAB), "Self-Help Programs for Co-Occurring Disorders" [online]
12Step.org, Resources and Information about the 12 Step Program [online]

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