In order to effectively recover from an addiction, professional help in the field of substance abuse is only part of the equation. Often times, recovering individuals additionally need the support of others who are also recovering from addiction. This is where support groups can provide a critical element needed to bring success to an individual's recovery process.
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The 12-Step philosophy pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous is used by about 74 percent of treatment centers. The basic premise of this model is that people can help one another achieve and maintain abstinence from substances of abuse, but that healing cannot come about unless people with addictions surrender to a higher power. The 12-Step movement can be a force for good for many people, but some struggle with what they interpret as a strong religious element of the program. Many addiction treatment programs offer alternatives to 12-Step methodology for those who prefer a more secular foundation for treatment.
Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the 12 Steps, devised by its co-founder, Bill W., and based on the Christian beliefs he adopted as part of his sobriety. The 12 Steps are presented as a set of principles to guide former alcoholics on how to tackle the problems caused by their addiction, how to make amends, and how to continue in their new lives as recovering drinkers. The 12 Steps have proven iconic enough to be adapted by other self-help and addiction recovery groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, with the precise terms adapted to represent the focus of the particular group. Additionally, many groups have changed the explicitly Christian overtones of the original 12 Steps to reflect secular or agnostic philosophies.