The 12-step program was originally conceived through Alcoholics Anonymous, and for decades it served as a template for most approaches to addiction treatment. Today, nearly 75% of all treatment centers still offer this traditional method of rehabilitation. 12-step rehab centers, such as Altus Treatment Center, emphasize two basic principles:

1) using group support to achieve sobriety and remain sober,

2) in order to overcome addiction, one must submit to a higher power.

History of the 12-Step Program

Bill Wilson first developed the 12-steps in 1938. Wilson was also the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and he developed the program around his own understanding of alcoholism and his views on the nature of addiction. A large part of his philosophy centered upon the belief that those struggling with alcohol addiction could benefit therapeutically through sharing their experiences with other alcoholics in a supportive environment.

The methodology that Wilson put into writing would later become known as the Big Book. This program borrowed from a number of different teachings that Wilson had encountered while developing his ideas. One such example was a six-step program put forward by an organization called the Oxford Group, which Wilson had experience with. The 12-steps were also deeply tied to Wilson’s beliefs as a Christian, which was why they placed such heavy emphasis on seeking help from a higher power.

Originally, the Big Book was supposed to serve as a guide only for those who could not attend AA meetings. Over the years, though, it became the definitive statement on the program and became a fixture in many 12-step rehab centers. The Big Book has also acted as the blueprint for many other treatment programs that are based on the ideas of peer-support, submission to a higher power, and anonymity. Among the offshoot programs are Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Heroin Anonymous (HA), and Gamblers Anonymous (GA). There are a number of others.

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What are the 12-steps?

Addiction treatment centers with 12-steps are capable of addressing any number of addictions. The core principles remain intact across all of the methodologies, although there may be some variation. For example, in some cases, the addiction is a behavior, rather than a substance. To get the clearest picture of what the 12-steps involve, those for Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are reproduced below. They can also be found here in a downloadable and printable PDF.

Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps to Recovery

1. We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction; that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

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This sounds like a big order, and we can’t do it all at once. We didn’t become addicted in one day, so remember—easy does it. There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance toward spiritual principles. Three of these that are indispensable are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. With these, we are well on our way.

At Altus Treatment Center, we feel that our approach to the disease of addiction is completely realistic, for the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel. We feel that our way is practical, for one addict can best understand and help another addict. We believe that the sooner we face our problems within our society, in everyday living, just that much faster do we become acceptable, responsible, and productive members of that society.

Altus Treatment Center offers a main treatment facility in Aliso, Viejo, and three other detox centers in the surrounding areas of Mission, Viejo, and Lake Forest. Altus Treatment Center is pleased to provide fully licensed treatment facilities, with dedicated treatment facilities for men, women and co-ed when beds overflow at either facility. It’s important to note that Altus keeps the location of the detox centers confidential, to maintain the confidence of those attending treatment.

The only way to keep from returning to active addiction is not to take that first drug. If you are like us, you know that one is too many and a thousand never enough. We put great emphasis on this, for we know that when we use drugs in any form or substitute one for another, we release our addiction all over again. Thinking of alcohol as different from other drugs has caused a great many addicts to relapse. Before we came to NA, many of us viewed alcohol separately, but we cannot afford to be confused about this. Alcohol is a drug. We are people with the disease of addiction who must abstain from all drugs in order to recover.

Altus Treatment Center wants to help you overcome your addiction. We are pleased to be able to offer our clients a low staff to patient ratio that allows patients to get the best care possible. With two licensed psychologists, Altus Treatment Center has the ability to focus on in what’s going on in a patient’s life that brings them to addiction. Offering beautiful residences where patients can clear their mind and work on their addictions, Altus Treatment Center focuses on treating the whole person, not just the addiction.

We're ready to help you take your life back.

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