Science and the 12 Steps

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Science and the 12 Steps

By The Fix staff 05/29/18

MFI understands that a well-rounded, holistic treatment approach is fundamental to long-term success in sobriety.

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MFI Recovery believes that recovery has both a spiritual and scientific component.

Most people researching addiction recovery for themselves or a loved one are at least a little familiar with the 12 steps. Most understand that being a member of AA or NA means attending group meetings, making a commitment to connecting with a higher power and abstaining from alcohol and drugs one day at a time. Because each individual struggling with substance abuse is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for addiction. However, there are proven methods which, when practiced either independently or in conjunction with each other, can yield health, wellness and sober success.

Research and evidence-based methods of recovery are scientifically proven to help those struggling with substance abuse break their addictive habits, develop new and healthy habits and live lives free from addiction and destructive behaviors. Successful rehabs and recovery facilities, like MFI Recovery, incorporate evidence-based programs like the Matrix Model, Multidimensional Family Therapy and the Relapse Prevention Skills Program. While addressing the emotional and mental aspects of addiction is imperative, lasting success requires a holistic approach to recovery. The importance of treating the spiritual aspects of addiction and recovery is often overlooked at many rehabs, and while it is widely known that AA and NA emphasize connecting to a power greater than ourselves, what many don’t know is the correlation between scientific studies and 12-step programs.

One major struggle most addicts experience is a feeling that they don’t fit in socially, and they end up suffering from stress and anxiety around what others might consider “normal” social situations. These feelings of being an outsider and disconnected contribute to addictive behaviors, and are a major cause for relapse.

Participation in 12-step programs has been proven to be effective in helping to relieve addicts of their self destructive behaviors. A fundamental reason for this is the aspect of community. In recovery meetings, the addict quickly learns that they are not alone in their feelings, fears or struggles with people, places and life in general. By listening to their peers share their experiences, strength and hope, the addict immediately feels “a part of,” which eases the pain that typically contributes to social and emotional detachment, which then leads to substance abuse to ease their suffering. However, once an addict has developed a support group that provides social and emotional support to help keep them sober, they find it easier to live life on life’s terms. Confidence replaces insecurities, and a new-found serenity helps keep them emotionally stable no matter what challenges they may face.

Studies also show that continued participation in 12-step programs is directly linked to long-term success with maintaining sobriety. Many refer to addiction as a spiritual sickness. The addict and their substance abuse have become the center of their lives, destroying relationships with friends, family members and employers, leaving the addict feeling hopeless, alone and empty. The 12-step philosophy is non-denominational. Allowing each individual to find their own definition of a higher power is fundamental in the success of spiritual fitness and overall wellness. At MFI, clients are given an open spiritual framework that encourages them to find deeper meaning in their lives, and attending 12-step meetings provides the tools they need to reconnect with loved ones, developing deep and meaningful relationships. .

Twelve-step programs like AA and NA are known as community-based Mutual Health Organizations (MHOs). Participation is voluntary, and members are encouraged to maintain their anonymity—not only to protect their own privacy, but to protect the group from the critical eye of those who might attribute one individual’s relapse as the fault of the program. Meetings typically last an hour, and involve studying recovery-related literature, listening to speakers share their recovery experience and an open-floor allowing members to share their feelings, thoughts and struggles. Attendees are also encouraged to work one-on-one with a sponsor who teaches them the tools of recovery and steps they took to establish and maintain sobriety. Meetings are structured, which further helps addicts establish healthy routines. At MFI, on-site meetings allow clients to face their challenges and work towards their recovery goals along with their peers. Further, every individual is supported with aftercare, an important aspect of which is continuing to attend 12-step meetings in their communities.

The structure, spiritual healing, social support and tools provided by the 12-step programs of recovery are crucial to an addict’s success in recovery. MFI understands that a well-rounded, holistic treatment approach is fundamental to long-term success in sobriety. By combining counseling, education, science-based modalities and the 12-steps, clients are given the foundation for social, emotional, mental and spiritual recovery.


MFI provides affordable substance abuse and addiction treatment based on scientific methods and the 12-steps. They have a network of inpatient, outpatient, intensive outpatient and detox facilities throughout the state of California. Connect on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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