Millions of individuals struggle with addiction each year in the U.S. and beyond. And while a number of treatment options exist to aid them on their road to recovery, one method has endured the decades to become our most trusted, proven method for improving the lives of those struggling with addiction: The Twelve Steps.

What Are the Twelve Steps?

First developed in the 1930s to facilitate recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Step Program is among one of the most effective—and most studied—treatments for helping to change addictive behavior and provide hope for addicts and their families.

Here are the Twelve Steps at a glance:

1. Admitting Powerlessness
2. Believing in a Higher Power
3. Turning Your Will Over
4. Making a Moral Inventory
5. Admitting Wrongdoings
6. Willingness to Change
7. Humbly Asking for Help
8. Making Amends
9. Directly Making Amends
10. Daily Inventory
11. Meditation and Prayer
12. Carrying the Message

You can find more details about the Steps here.

Why They Work

The Twelve Steps focus on accountability, consistency and community to provide a stable, reliable structure to achieve and maintain recovery. These elements add up to a powerful combination that gives those in recovery an extensive toolkit to remain accountable to themselves and their communities.

The benefits gained from Twelve Steps treatment programs aren’t just for the individual. In fact, studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed scientific journals have found that 12-step treatments that facilitate engagement with AA post-discharge can not only produce about one third higher continuous abstinence rates, but also 64 percent lower health care costs compared to cognitive-behavioral treatments.

“There’s a lot of pressure to make health care more efficient and cost-effective,” said Jon Sommervold, executive director of Tallgrass Recovery. “When we can provide treatment effective treatment options that keep individuals out of the health care system, that’s a win-win.”

But why do 12-step-based programs often lead to better outcomes than other treatment programs? The key is accountability. Because the Steps are paired with consistent group work and peer support from others who are also in recovery, individuals struggling with addiction have access to long-term support that allows them to maintain their healing journey.

“These programs increase people’s ability to cope with the demands of recovery because they provide social and community support,” added Sommervold. “At Tallgrass, most of our staff members are also doing the Steps, which provides our clients with immediate and lasting community. They serve as powerful, living examples of how and why this course of treatment works.”

Curious? Here Are Some More Resources

Because the Twelve Steps have existed for decades, a wealth of scientific studies and information are available. Here are some items we recommend.

  • Article: In Defense of 12 Steps: What Science Really Tells Us About Addiction by John F. Kelly and Gene Beresin.
  • Video: Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work? Scientific Review from Dr. John Kelly and the RRI

Ready to get started on your road to recovery? Contact Tallgrass Recovery today to start the discussion.