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How Does the 12-Step Program Work?

The 12-Step program is as effective as the user makes it. The most important element of the program is to be willing to use it as it applies to your life. It isn’t something that you start and finish. Rather, it is a lifestyle method.


The key to the 12-step program is admission. You must admit that you have a problem, but you also admit that you aren’t alone, and that there is something bigger and stronger than you in the universe. The program requires that you admit your flaws to yourself, as well as your mistakes. In cases, where it doesn’t do harm, you also admit some of these things to others. Just thinking about that process can cause anxiety, but the whole purpose of the program is to lay things out, one step at a time, so that you can go at your own pace and address the things you need to address.


When you hear someone say that the program didn’t work, your next question might be how frequently they went to meetings. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but it’s a big part of the process. Finding just the right meeting is often the key to your sobriety. No one is going to take attendance, but people do notice when you’re gone, and they become concerned for you. Since those people have the same disease as you, they aren’t concerned in a hovering sort of way, but in a “been there” kind of way. You also get to choose a sponsor—someone who has spent some time in being sober, and who is willing to be there for you any time of the day or night. Your accountability isn’t to the meetings or to your sponsor, but to yourself. It just helps that there are others out there on your journey who are in a similar position.

The Steps

The steps are in the order that they are in for a reason. It’s the order that makes the most sense. For example, you can’t really complete the step about making amends, without first admitting that things have gotten out of control and actions were done that need to be addressed. Don’t take the program as a whole, but one step, one second at a time, if need be.

If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, whether it is alcohol or something else, you can learn more about the 12 steps and other programs that can help by calling Yellowstone Recovery at 1-888-897-1455 today.

Conversation With A Psychologist1

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