The basic premise of the 12-Step model is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from the substances or behaviors to which they are addicted. They can do this through meetings in which they share their experiences with one another and support each other in the ongoing effort of maintaining abstinence. In research, as seen in a recent article from the journal Addiction Research and Theory, abstinence practices (as supported by 12-Step programs) can account for high levels of what experts call flourishing, which is positive mental health and can contribute to longer-term recovery. In the study, those who maintained abstinence were more likely to flourish in the long-term, with 40.7 percent flourishing after three months (as compared to 9.3 percent languishing) and nearly 40 percent flourishing after 12 months (compared to 12.4 percent languishing).
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Since its origin with AA, the 12-Step model has been adopted and altered by many groups to fit other programs – for addiction treatment and otherwise. Many groups, like Narcotics Anonymous, use the steps exactly as they were conceived by AA. Others have modified the steps to fit their own needs and cultures. For example, a Native American group has combined the 12 Steps with the Native American concept of the Medicine Wheel to create a program designed specifically to help indigenous Americans who struggle with alcoholism and addiction, the Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps program. Others have come up with similar ideas to integrate the basic ideas of the 12 Steps into a cultural framework that makes sense for members of that culture.

The path to getting sober and drug-free is never exactly the same for any two people. However, anyone looking to find out more about rehab and recovery - either for themselves or their loved ones - will recognize some common steps, particularly when it comes to inpatient residential treatment programs. These steps are usually similar whether you’re looking for private alcoholism treatment or a drug addiction recovery center.
Heavy drinking has a lot of other risks. It can lead to liver disease, pancreatitis, some forms of cancer, brain damage, serious memory loss, and high blood pressure. It also makes someone more likely to die in a car wreck or from murder or suicide. And any alcohol abuse raises the odds of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and fetal alcohol syndrome.
Whether you choose to go to rehab, rely on self-help programs, get therapy, or take a self-directed treatment approach, support is essential. Recovering from alcohol addiction is much easier when you have people you can lean on for encouragement, comfort, and guidance. Without support, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns when things get tough.
Alcoholism can also lead to impotence in men, damage to the fetus in pregnant women, and an elevated risk of cancer of the larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, stomach, pancreas, and upper gastrointestinal tract. Because heavy drinkers seldom have adequate diets, they may have nutritional deficiencies. Heavy drinkers typically have impaired liver function, and up to one in five develops cirrhosis.
Alcohol abuse, now included in the diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, is a disease. While many have described this disorder as dipsomania, the latter term more accurately describes the intense craving that can be a symptom of alcohol use disorder. A maladaptive pattern of drinking alcohol that results in negative work, medical, legal, educational, and/or social effects on a person's life characterizes the disorder. The individual who abuses this substance tends to continue to use it despite such consequences. Effects of alcohol use disorder on families can include increased domestic abuse/domestic violence. The effects that parental alcoholism can have on children can be significantly detrimental in other ways as well. For example, the sons and daughters of alcoholics seem to be at higher risk for experiencing feelings that are more negative, stress, and alienation as well as aggression. There are a multitude of negative psychological effects of alcohol use disorder, including depression and antisocial behaviors.
Alcoholism is a disease that can affect both children and adults, but it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. For some people, just one drink can result in intoxication, while for others, many more drinks are necessary to create the same effect. A “drink” is classified as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In terms of the effects on the body and brain, excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk for various health issues for any user. The big question is: Are the effects of alcoholism reversible?

Jump up ^ Morse, RM; Flavin, DK (August 1992). "The definition of alcoholism. The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to Study the Definition and Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alcoholism". JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 268 (8): 1012–4. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490080086030. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 1501306.
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As dependence increases, individuals are more likely to experience health and social consequences. The consumption of alcohol in moderation has health benefits for some (e.g. it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in older people). On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption, especially when it is caused by alcohol dependence, is associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems. These include:
Clear communication by parents about the negative effects of alcohol, as well as about their expectations regarding drug use, has been found to significantly decrease alcohol use in teens. Adequate parental supervision has also been found to be a deterrent to underage alcohol abuse. Alcohol, and other drug use, has been found to occur most often between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., immediately after school and prior to parents' arrival at home from work. Teen participation in extracurricular activities has therefore been revealed to be an important prevention measure for the use of alcohol in this age group. Parents can also help educate teens about appropriate coping and stress-management strategies. For example, 15- to 16-year-olds who use religion to cope with stress tend to use drugs significantly less often and have fewer problems as a result of drinking than their peers who do not use religion to cope.
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Unhealthy alcohol use includes any alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other alcohol-related problems. It also includes binge drinking — a pattern of drinking where a male consumes five or more drinks within two hours or a female downs at least four drinks within two hours. Binge drinking causes significant health and safety risks.
Jump up ^ GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death, Collaborators (17 December 2014). "Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013". Lancet. 385 (9963): 117–71. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61682-2. PMC 4340604. PMID 25530442.
Wilson took this to heart, coming up with additional points to safeguard the integrity and future of his group. To that effect, he wrote that every individual AA group should decline outside contributions and ought to be able to fully support itself. Alcoholics Anonymous was never to be a professional organization; “the only requirement for AA membership,” he wrote, “is a desire to stop drinking.” Above all, groups had to prize anonymity; Wilson wrote that it is “the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,” and that the sacrifice of identity would help members “place principles before personalities.”
Five stages of alcohol and substance abuse disorders have been identified. The first stage is described as having access to alcohol rather than use of alcohol. In that stage, minimizing the risk factors that make a person more vulnerable to using alcohol are an issue. The second stage of alcohol use ranges from experimentation or occasional use to regular weekly use of alcohol. This or any of the more severe stages of alcoholism may involve binge drinking. The third stage is characterized by individuals further increasing the frequency of alcohol use and/or using the substance on a regular basis. This stage may also include either buying or stealing to get alcohol. In the fourth stage of alcohol use, users have established regular alcohol consumption, have become preoccupied with getting intoxicated ("high") and have developed problems in their social, educational, vocational, or family life as a result of using the substance. The final and most serious fifth stage of alcohol use is defined by the person only feeling normal when they are using alcohol. During this stage, risk-taking behaviors like stealing, engaging in physical fights, or driving while intoxicated increase, and they become most vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts.
The first book written to cover the 12 step program was titled "Alcoholics Anonymous", affectionately known as the Big Book by program members. Following the subsequent extensive growth of twelve step programs for other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors, many additional books were written and recordings and videos were produced. These cover the steps in greater detail and how people have specifically applied the steps in their lives. An extensive chronology and background about the history of A.A. has been put together at Dick B.'s website.
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In my 30 years as an addiction counselor I've been amazed by the practically obsessive attempts to push the 12-step philosophy to the forefront of treatment methodology, and to ignore research.  Does anyone remember that Bill W. once remarked that he never considered AA to be a panacea for addiction?  In fact, few people know he considered the nutritional therapy of Vitamin B3 to be perhaps the most effective means of treating symptoms of depression he found closely linked to alcoholism.  He wanted to be remembered more for promoting B3 therapy than AA itself.  The point is, support is support, and science is science.  I've never had any qualms whatsoever about my clients attending AA or NA meetings. It's their free time; they can attend or not.  If my role is to teach or persuade them to go, why do I need a clinical license and a Master's Degree?  Why did I need to take exams? (Which, by the way, never 'assessed' my ability as AA promoter.) I take my work more seriously than just encouraging support group concepts or involvement.  I see my role alternately as providing up-to-date information about behavioral therapies, relapse prevention approaches, and being a force for connection and inspiration.  We should be appalled by the slow transfer of research to practice.  There's a lot more we can do for our clients, and we're not doing it.  I think it's high time for the traditionalists in our field to recognize that our clients need the benefits of science, not more AA instruction and orientation.  
Many 12-Step groups exist for individuals who are uncomfortable with the religious nature of traditional AA, such as AA Agnostica, which is designed for atheists and agnostics. The goal of Step 2 is often taken to be more spiritual in nature than religious, as it asks each individual to accept that they require help from something greater than themselves in order to move forward in recovery.
The alcoholic's continual craving for alcohol makes abstinence -- an important goal of treatment -- extremely difficult. The condition is also complicated by denial: Alcoholics might be reluctant to admit their excess drinking either because of denial or guilt. Another barrier to receiving care is that physicians screen only about 15% of their primary care patients for alcohol disorders.

There are two types of rehabilitation that help treat alcoholism: inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Inpatient rehabs are intensive treatment programs that require you to check into a facility for a certain period of time, usually 30, 60 or 90 days. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to participate in a recovery program while continuing with their daily life. Talk with your doctor about treatment options to determine which form of recovery will best fit your needs.

Since the 1950s, alcohol addiction has been treated as a separate addiction from that of other illicit drugs under the AA program, meaning that drug abuse disorders are considered to be a different struggle, so a separate 12-step program is recommended. Chemical dependency is considered the most life-threatening addiction disorder and addicts are advised to address this addiction first and prior to other addictions such as gambling or sexual addiction, until abstinence is established and recovery has begun. Drug dependency is sometimes considered the root addiction, causing the individual to develop other addictive tendencies and therefore should be addressed first.


Jump up ^ "Corrections Catalog". Archived from the original on 12 December 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2009. The titles include: Carrying the Message into Correctional Facilities, Where Do I Go From Here?, A.A. in Prison: Inmate to Inmate, A.A. in Correctional Facilities, It Sure Beats Sitting in a Cell, Memo to an Inmate Who May be an Alcoholic, A Message to Corrections Administrators


If you have ever found your drinking to interfere with your career or your life at home, then chances are you’re either an alcoholic or on your way. Those who drink responsibly tend to use alcohol as a treat, something to be consumed once the day’s work is done, or at special social occasions. Those who are alcoholics tend to use alcohol for really no reason at all.
Historically the name "dipsomania" was coined by German physician C. W. Hufeland in 1819 before it was superseded by "alcoholism".[160][161] That term now has a more specific meaning.[162] The term "alcoholism" was first used in 1849 by the Swedish physician Magnus Huss to describe the systematic adverse effects of alcohol.[163] Alcohol has a long history of use and misuse throughout recorded history. Biblical, Egyptian and Babylonian sources record the history of abuse and dependence on alcohol. In some ancient cultures alcohol was worshiped and in others, its abuse was condemned. Excessive alcohol misuse and drunkenness were recognized as causing social problems even thousands of years ago. However, the defining of habitual drunkenness as it was then known as and its adverse consequences were not well established medically until the 18th century. In 1647 a Greek monk named Agapios was the first to document that chronic alcohol misuse was associated with toxicity to the nervous system and body which resulted in a range of medical disorders such as seizures, paralysis, and internal bleeding. In 1920 the effects of alcohol abuse and chronic drunkenness led to the failed prohibition of alcohol in the United States, a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place until 1933. In 2005 alcohol dependence and abuse was estimated to cost the US economy approximately 220 billion dollars per year, more than cancer and obesity.[164]
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Fact: You don’t have to be homeless and drinking out of a brown paper bag to be an alcoholic. Many alcoholics are able to hold down jobs, get through school, and provide for their families. Some are even able to excel. But just because you’re a high-functioning alcoholic doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself or others in danger. Over time, the effects will catch up with you.
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Michael, while one of the above posters felt that the anti-medication bias of many AA members (as well as its entire leadership) is receding, I have not seen that at all. Patients on methadone, buprenorphine and even (very recently) Vivitrol, are told that they are not "clean," cannot speak at the meeting, cannot receive sobriety tokens, cannot join in on committments and in fact are still using.  They are urged routinely to stop their medications.  While it has perhaps receded with some psychiatric medications, it has NOT with many other medications, including Disulfiram, Campral and Naltrexone.

Abstinence-based recovery, as the name suggests, focuses on complete abstinence from drug use, thereby breaking the cycle of addiction and dependency. To achieve remission from the disease of addiction, complete withdrawal of all mind-altering substances, including alcohol, is required. Abstinence-based recovery teaches us how to live a life of freedom that no longer requires us to turn to mood or mind-altering substances in order to help change the way we feel. The 12-Steps are an abstinence-based program that offers a lifeline of support to anyone hoping to recover from addiction.
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