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12-Step Completion

The 12-step programs are widely acknowledged as a successful plan for recovery. Many people will ask, is the recovery permanent? Does it even make sense to talk about 12-step completion? That is actually a matter of some debate, and the position depends to some degree on definitions of “permanent” and “completion.” To the extent that there are 12 distinct and separate steps of a 12-step program, once an addict in recovery has performed all 12 of the steps, there is in a sense a “completion.” But by their very nature, many of the steps are designed to be performed continually, on an ongoing basis, so “completion” of the program becomes nonsensical as a concept. Likewise the idea of permanence. Relapses, or returns to addiction, are not uncommon, so in that sense, recovery is often not permanent. But following a relapse, many addicts return to recovery and continue to progress through a successful program of recovery – thus to the extent that those addicts do not continue in relapse, their recovery can be viewed as permanent in a general sense. Most people find it more useful to consider recovery to be a process, rather than a task to be completed, and this is in fact the model on which the 12 steps are premised.