A 12-step recovery program helps individuals recover from an addiction, most often to drugs or alcohol, explains Recovery.org. The steps involved depend on the individual program. The original 12-step programs focused on spiritually based steps, while some later programs introduced steps emphasizing the power of nonreligious individuals to help themselves.
The idea behind most 12-step recovery programs is to help people gradually adopt a new lifestyle in which the addictive substance plays no part, according to Recovery.org. There is also an emphasis on participants being honest about their conditions because admitting they have a problem helps motivate them to make changes in their lives. A given program usually has participants at varying stages of recovery, which allows those who have been sober for a long time to support new participants as they experience withdrawal symptoms and go through the detoxification process.
Participants in 12-step recovery programs are able to share their stories in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, which helps them realize that addiction affects people from all walks of life, notes Recovery.org. Through sharing details of their lives, they come to realize that many people who struggle with addiction are highly educated, intelligent, productive members of society, and this can help ease feelings of embarrassment about their condition. As they progress through the program, they are able to acquire many helpful skills, such as ways to manage cravings and deal with unsupportive people in their lives.