What’s the 12-Step Model for Recovery?
Treatment facilities are formal therapeutic communities. 12-Step programs are informal ones. The model of recovery in these programs is “one drunk (or drug addict) helping another” so both can remain sober. It’s also a group model: these programs are intended to be done in community with others, not alone.
Working the 12 Steps, one at a time and in order with a sponsor, is the central work of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs.
Two of the most important components of 12-Step programs are meetings and sponsors: they provide both group and individual assistance.
12-Step meetings are safe places characterized by tolerance, understanding, acceptance and social support, where one can honestly discuss any problem associated with staying sober or living life without fear about how you might look. There are a variety of meetings: speaker meetings; speaker-discussions; Step-study meetings; book-study meetings concentrating on recovery literature; meetings exclusively for men, for women, in foreign languages, etc., (The breadth of variety often depends where they are; in cities there’s more variety than in smaller communities.)
Sponsors are veterans of the Steps who make themselves available on a regular basis — even daily — and act as personal guides, taking their sponsees step-by-step through the 12-Step program. They don’t volunteer to be sponsors as charity work, but because working with sponsees helps the sponsors with their sobriety; sponsorship is mutually beneficial. (I’ve heard many, many sponsors say that they get more from sponsees than they give them.) Though their styles vary to fit their individuality, they are not bosses. They make “suggestions” and often expect you to follow through on them, but if you don’t like what they say you can “fire” them and get another sponsor who’s a better fit. They’re also not responsible for your sobriety — you are. But they’re there to help.
For more questions about 12-Step programs click on What Are the 12 Steps and What’s Their Purpose?
For a more detailed description, including a discussion of each Step, click on The 12-Steps
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