The Benefits of the 12 Steps in Drug Rehab

By John Lee

The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are commonly introduced to recovering addicts and alcoholics during a stay in drug rehab.

Some people react to the 12 steps with skepticism, and although the 12 steps are not an evidence-based program or a scientific method of addiction treatment, they do offer a lot of value to people new to recovery and are a worthwhile inclusion in any drug or alcohol treatment program.

Benefits of 12 Steps Support Groups

Some of the benefits of a 12-step support group include the following:

  • 12 steps groups offer community-level support to those in recovery. Self-help and support groups can offer long-term assistance and sober social camaraderie to those new to recovery, and this sober fellowship can provide a backbone against temptation. The National Institute on Drug Abuse calls 12 steps programs, "groups that can help support healthy lifestyle behaviors over a lifetime."
  • Studies show that people who participate in AA or other types of self-help group meetings have lower rates of relapse than those that don't, and the benefits of these programs extend to people who are not religious and to those who have mental health problems. (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, August 2006.)
  • Studies show that people who get both professional addiction treatment and who participate in AA or other 12 steps programs are most likely to stay abstinent. (Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, October 2005.)
  • 12 steps groups offer free continuing addiction recovery support in the community. There is no cost barrier to entry, and since these group meetings can be found in most communities throughout the country, accessibility is rarely a problem.

People who are introduced to the 12 steps while receiving professional addiction treatment and who continue their participation in AA or other self help groups once back in the community have a higher than average likelihood of maintaining sobriety. This fact alone more than justifies the inclusion of 12 steps programs into more comprehensive addiction treatment programs.

Finding the Right Kind of Treatment for You

There is real benefit to getting introduced to the 12 steps during a stay in drug rehab. AA, NA and other 12 steps self-help organizations can offer a community lifeline to free continuing care, sober support and friendship, and it's to your advantage to leave a stay in rehab already familiar and involved with a program of community continuing care. However, because not all people find the 12 steps useful as a primary tool for addiction recovery, the best addiction treatment programs use the 12 steps as only one of many offered modalities.

To find drug rehabs in your area that use both the 12 steps and evidence-based scientific therapies of addiction treatment, and to discuss other treatment options, please call the treatment specialists at the National Resource Center at (888) 266-6127.