Almost everyone has heard of the 12 Step programs. The 12 Step approach began in the 1930s with Alcoholics Anonymous. These programs now apply the same philosophy across a broad range of addictive behaviors, and are often referred to as the “12 steps to freedom” from addiction.

The premise is that addiction is a progressive disease that must be acknowledged in order to be understood and recovered from. An admission that the disease and behaviors that flow from the addiction have made your life unmanageable is the first step. Some of the other steps include:

  • Recognition that a “higher power” can give you strength.
  • An examination of your past wrongs and taking responsibility for them, along with making amends for them when possible
  • An adjustment of learning to live with a new code of behavior.
  • Contribution to the greater community by helping others who suffer from addictions.

The “higher power” step is a sticking point for many people, because it sounds a bit religious, and some people are philosophically opposed to organized religion. The suggestion is generally that those folks should interpret the “higher power” in a way that makes sense to them without reference to religion, such as the power of the collective group. The 12 Step programs have shown considerable success over the years.

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