10 Myths About Addiction

You Need a 12-step Program to Beat Addiction
A lot of people are helped by 12-step programs, but they aren't the only alternative for people with addiction issues. g-stockstudio/iStock/Thinkstock

Many an addict, whether battling an addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling — you name it — has successfully recovered with a 12-step program. These programs, the most popular of which is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), typically require addicts to live according to 12 guiding principles that emphasize personal growth and the dependence upon a higher spiritual being, typically God. While 12-step programs have done much good for many people, they don't help everyone. According to a 2007 internal survey done by AA, 33 percent of members claimed sobriety for more than 10 years, 12 percent for five to 10 years, 24 percent for one to five years and 31 percent for less than a year. Not too shabby. But these figures don't count the people who quit AA within the first year. A 2000 report published in "Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly" found 81 percent of AA newbies quit within the first month, with 90 percent throwing in the towel by the three-month mark [source: Flanagin].

One of the problems some people have with 12-step programs is their reliance on God and religion. If you don't believe in either, can you really be helped? Permanently? It's best to have a variety of behavioral and psychological treatments available so each addict can find the one that works best for him. If you can glean the strength to fight addiction from your religion, that's great. Nonbelievers may be able to draw similar fortitude from a belief in family, community and mankind [sources: Carise, Sheff]. And, medication may also be needed in addition to your 12-step program -- which brings us to our next myth.