Can a 12-step program work in methadone maintenance treatment?

Natti Ronel, Keren Gueta, Yali Abramsohn, Nir Caspi, Miriam Adelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Three consecutive, professionally led (as opposed to self-help) groups following the 12-step program (TSP) were integrated into a methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) program that included 32 heroin-addicted individuals in recovery. This report describes our experience in meeting the challenges that arose and our conclusions regarding the therapeutic potential of this integration. A professional therapeutic staff guided the groups. In-depth interviews of 10 participants and the reflections of the group leaders provided data for learning about the groups' experience. Initially the participants rejected the concepts of Step 1, powerlessness and unmanageability of life. The assimilation of Step 4 (defining character defect) also aroused some resistance. The participants eventually adopted the pragmatic aspects of TSP, including its terminology. The establishment of a common language of recovery helped to create group coherence and a sense of belonging, and helped to meet the needs of those who felt stigmatized by both the nonaddicted and addicted population undergoing nonmethadone recovery. TSP could be adapted to various aspects of daily life, produced a sense of self-efficacy, and stimulated motivation for change. Therapeutic implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1153
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • 12-step program
  • addiction
  • methadone maintenance
  • recovery
  • spirituality


Dive into the research topics of 'Can a 12-step program work in methadone maintenance treatment?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this