You can find 12-step programs all over the world, including in Galloway, New Jersey.
The concept of the 12 steps to recovery began with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The group has gained international recognition for the millions of attendees whom they have helped recover from alcohol addiction.
Other groups use the idea of the 12 steps to help ongoing recovery from drugs or alcohol because these steps are meaningful and measurable. You can also return to a step if you relapse, and per AA’s publications, you are free to skip a step if it is not helpful for you. The core idea of the 12 steps focuses on making progress toward recovery using abstinence and social support, which is in line with modern evidence-based treatment.
What Are 12-Step Programs?
Many people understand that 12-step programs are associated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and they know that these steps are intended to help someone struggling with addiction, usually to alcohol, avoid relapse and improve their life. However, fewer people understand the history of AA’s 12 steps, which blossomed into numerous approaches to addiction treatment, including modern evidence-based treatment that has its foundation in group counseling.
AA was the first support group for anyone with an addiction to a substance, which at the time was most notably alcohol. Since the first AA meetings, dozens of groups have splintered off to provide free mutual support for specific substance abuse recovery, other types of addictions like gambling, other behavioral conditions, and even for loved ones of those recovering from addiction. Many use a model like the 12 steps to help members remain abstinent.
The general focus of 12-step groups is to acknowledge that addiction is a lifelong condition, with symptoms that can be managed, but it can never be cured. This is in line with the modern medical understanding of addiction.
What Is the History of the 12 Steps?
AA was founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, by two professional men who struggled with alcohol addiction. Their ideas to support each other to remain abstinent, repair relationships, and focus on improving their lives quickly grew in popularity as the two men turned their attention to helping those with similar problems at Akron’s City Hospital. A second AA group was founded in New York by the end of that year, and then, a third was founded in Cleveland in 1939. Reportedly, by the end of that four-year period, there were more than 100 “sober alcoholics” who had successfully overcome their addiction using early versions of the 12 steps.
The early days of AA meetings also showed that abstinence from alcohol could be achieved by many, using a similar template. Although modern evidence-based treatment professionals note that a treatment plan must be personalized to fit individual needs, the core components are still the same for everyone: detox from the substance, followed by behavioral therapy and support to manage compulsions. AA worked in essentially this way.
Modern AA groups use the 12 traditions, which mirror the 12 steps in some ways, to manage their meetings. Each group must be financially self-supporting, entirely free to anyone who attends, and keep members anonymous, among other points. The 12 traditions were ratified by a convention in Cleveland in 1950.
How Effective Are the 12 Steps in Recovery?
The 12 steps seem to work well for many because they are measurable. Once you have completed one of the steps, you can mark it off. You might need to return to certain steps after moments of relapse, and a sponsor or group leader for AA will note that this is important to personal growth and long-term addiction management.
Newcomers are also not required to accept or follow every single one of the 12 steps in the program if they do not wish to. They are encouraged to keep an open mind, attend meetings for social support, and read literature from the AA program. They are encouraged to follow the steps that make sense to them.
The 12 Steps are as follows:
- Admit powerlessness over alcohol.
- Believe in a power greater than oneself.
- Turn one’s will and life over to that higher power.
- Make a moral inventory.
- Admit wrongdoings to oneself and to those who have been harmed.
- Prepare to have these defects removed through the steps/higher power.
- Humbly admit all shortcomings to oneself and the higher power.
- Make a list of people who were harmed and make amends.
- Make direct amends, when possible, unless doing so would cause further harm.
- Continue to take personal inventory and admit wrongs when needed.
- Seek to improve conscious contact (through meditation, prayer, or another means) with the higher power; have a spiritual awakening.
- Take this spiritual awakening to others who are struggling with addiction.
Since attendance in AA and similar 12-step programs is anonymous, it is hard to know how effective these programs are. According to AA’s literature, by 1960, the program was successful internationally.
At the 25th anniversary celebration in Long Beach, California, there were 8,900 people in attendance. The 50th anniversary in Montreal in 1985 had 45,000 members; this included members of splinter groups, including Al-Anon. By 2015, the 80th anniversary gathering in Atlanta had 57,000 members in attendance.
With groups appearing all over the world, millions of people attend AA every day. The first AA national convention in Mongolia occurred in 2004, as a representation of how popular and beneficial 12-step programs are.
A survey conducted from 2006 to 2007 found an average of 5 million people ages 12 or older attending 12-step-style self-help groups in the United States. About 45 percent attended for alcohol use disorder, 22 percent attended due to illicit drug use, and 33 percent attended because of a combination of these factors.
12-Step Programs at Boca Recovery Center in Galloway, New Jersey
Boca Recovery Center offers evidence-based programs for residents of Galloway, New Jersey. This residential program starts with detox supervised by medical professionals and then seamlessly transfers you to inpatient rehabilitation, where you will receive consistent support from addiction specialists.
Many counselors are versed in 12-step programs, which are integrated into group and individual counseling. Abstinence-based treatment is at the heart of 12-step programs, which may also incorporate Christian or spiritual values.
Additional 12-Step Resources Near Galloway
If you are interested in continuing your path with 12-step programs and AA-style mutual support groups after you complete residential care at Boca Recovery Center, here are some options that are easily accessible in and around Galloway, New Jersey:
- Cape Atlantic Intergroup: This AA intergroup has meetings in Galloway, as well as in nearby areas.
- Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Results: NA is a group inspired by AA, but it is focused on those overcoming addiction to prescription or illicit drugs rather than alcohol. There are many available meetings in the Galloway area.
- New Jersey 211: If you have questions about the most up-to-date 12-step-style meetings in New Jersey, the 211 page or phone number can help you.
- New Jersey Al-Anon and Alateen: These support groups provide a vital service for loved ones, especially family members, of those recovering from addiction. Those based on the 12 steps can help you understand the path your loved one has chosen. There are several available meetings in New Jersey.
- Hendricks House and Reynolds House Recovery Housing: Sober living is important, and attending 12-step or related mutual support groups can be one of the best ways to reduce your risk of relapse. Finding a place to live that does not trigger a relapse is important, and this may include finding supportive housing options that are free of drugs and alcohol.
What Is A.A.? Alcoholics Anonymous.
Historical Data: The Birth of A.A. and Its Growth in the U.S./Canada. Alcoholics Anonymous.
A.A. Fact File. (2018). Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous.
12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview. (August 2013). Social Work Public Health.