The 12-step program for addiction is the oldest and most common form of treatment.  It has been adopted by many alcohol rehab centers for both outpatient and residential inpatient treatment.  The program originated more than 70 years ago when it was developed for Alcoholics Anonymous by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith.  This widely-used form of alcoholism treatment combines fellowship with a set of principles known as the 12 steps to help recovering alcoholics maintain sobriety.

The 12-step philosophy is based on these principles:

  • Admitting that you are powerless in the face of addiction.
  • Recognizing that there is a Higher Power that can help restore your sanity.
  • Turning your life over to the Higher Power.
  • Examining your life and making amends for past errors.
  • Continually working towards your own and others' recovery.

The concept of support is key to 12-step programs.  It takes the form of support groups that assist in the recovery process and individual sponsors who provide one-on-one guidance.  A sponsor is a successfully recovered alcoholic who acts as a mentor and is available in times of crisis to help a recovering alcoholic avoid relapse.  Rehab centers that use a 12-step program use support groups throughout the treatment process.

Some alcohol rehab centers combine a 12-step approach with other treatment options which may include personalized individual counseling and family therapy.  Holistic treatments like yoga, meditation and nutritional counseling are also provided to help recovering alcoholics develop new life skills and coping mechanisms.

Many recovering alcoholics join Alcoholics Anonymous following release from a rehab center that utilizes a 12-step program.  They are assigned a sponsor and continue with group support sessions at Alcoholic Anonymous meetings.  Studies show that following up rehab center treatment with a program like AA increases the chances of maintaining sobriety over the long term.