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Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

12-Step Facilitation Therapy (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opiates)

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence. Three key ideas predominate: (1) acceptance, which includes the realization that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control, that life has become unmanageable because of drugs, that willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the problem, and that abstinence is the only alternative; (2) surrender, which involves giving oneself over to a higher power, accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals, and following the recovery activities laid out by the 12-step program; and (3) active involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities. While the efficacy of 12-step programs (and 12-step facilitation) in treating alcohol dependence has been established, the research on its usefulness for other forms of substance abuse is more preliminary, but the treatment appears promising for helping drug abusers sustain recovery.

Further Reading:

Carroll, K.M.; Nich, C.; Ball, S.A.; McCance, E.; Frankforter, T.L.; and Rounsaville, B.J. One-year follow-up of disulfiram and psychotherapy for cocaine-alcohol users: Sustained effects of treatment. Addiction 95(9):1335-1349, 2000.

Donovan D.M., and Wells E.A. "Tweaking 12-step": The potential role of 12-Step self-help group involvement in methamphetamine recovery. Addiction 102(Suppl. 1):121-129, 2007.

Project MATCH Research Group. Matching alcoholism treatments to client heterogeneity: Project MATCH posttreatment drinking outcomes. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 58(1)7-29, 1997.

This page was last updated December 2012

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National Institute on Drug Abuse (2012). 12-Step Facilitation Therapy (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opiates). In Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-4

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