How can a 12-step program help in addiction treatment?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Most mental health professionals readily refer patients to 12-step programs for addiction, and many draw on these principles or use 12-step-related counseling (often called 12-step facilitation) in their approach to therapy.

In treatment developed by researchers for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 12-step facilitation therapists provide patients with reading materials about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and encourage attendance at meetings. They also might arrange contacts with volunteers from AA and other 12-step groups. Patients might be asked to keep a journal of experiences at AA meetings and discuss them with a counselor or therapist. In hospitals and clinics that treat chemical dependency, 12-step facilitation is often part of a comprehensive detoxification (supervised withdrawal) program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.