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.