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12-Step Programs

What are 12-Step Programs?

TWELVE STEP programs are well known for being used to recover from addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. It was first introduced by ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS (A.A) in 1930, and since then, it has been used to aid individuals with recovery from substance use and alcoholism.


The 12-Step approach is a spiritual, abstinence-based program that provides guiding principles for treating various substances (alcohol & drugs) and behavioral addictions (gambling & sex addiction). It provides an approach containing the twelve steps to treat and recover from behavioral dysfunction and eliminate substance abuse or alcohol abuse.

The treatment or therapy is typically in a group format that contains peer-to-peer communication by encouraging the sharing and discussing of their thoughts and behaviors. They also receive constructive feedback to increase their insights and awareness, which helps them recover better. The group meetings most commonly occur at different sites like hospital settings to develop people's interests.

How Do Twelve Step Programs Work

The twelve steps program works by working in early recovery and helps maintain the members' sobriety. As suggested by Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A), the 12-Steps are a set of guiding principles that, when practiced as a way of life, can reduce or expel a person’s compulsion to drink and use drugs.

Generally, it helps and encourages people to share their thoughts and feelings, which aids in recovery by building fellowship and trust among the members. The group members come together and help each other to recover.


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What Are the Twelve Steps?

The twelve steps suggested by Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A) were changed and adapted according to the time and needs, but the essence of these steps is still the same.

These steps are effective in the recovery of everyone if they dig in deep and learn more about it. Practicing and adapting these steps in daily life can be very beneficial for the individual, thus helping in the recovery and preventing relapse. These twelve steps include:


The first step to beginning recovery is being honest about the suffering and the addiction after denying it for a long time. The family can also adapt honesty to start the rally and make it easy for the addict to admit that they were powerless over alcohol.



The second step is to have faith in the higher power. Believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. It is mandatory to have faith to start healing.



The third step is to surrender and accept that you cannot fight this alone. To treat and recover from addiction, you must submit to and trust God.



The fourth step is to look at and observe your actions and behaviors and their outcomes towards yourself and others. Scour your soul.



In the fifth step of the twelve steps, you can initiate your growth by admitting to observing your actions and behaviors and their outcomes towards yourself and others.



The sixth step deals with accepting the defects in your character and thinking about getting rid of your unacceptable behaviors.



In the seventh step, you need to ask the higher power for help. Humility is the quality or state of not thinking you are better than others. It is the quality or condition of being humble. 



In the eighth step, you list those you harmed before recovery (A list of amends), i.e., to change or modify (something) for the better.



In the ninth step of the twelve-step program, you start making amends. Although it can be complex and challenging​ , it can be a great start in building trust and healing your damaged relationships.



The tenth step is to maintain your amends to make spiritual progress in recovery.



The eleventh step deals with praying and meditating. You can improve your consciousness and connect with God through prayer and meditation. You can do this by praying only for His knowledge and will and the power to carry that out.



The twelve and last step is to use your experience, strength and hope to help the subsequent individual suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction.


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Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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What Are the Benefits of Twelve Step Programs?

The twelve-step program has worked for a long time and has helped many people get sober. However, there have been many changes and advancements in the addiction recovery field since it was initiated by Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A).

Many evidence-based treatments now help people get sober and maintain sobriety. These include motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications such as antidepressants, Methadone, Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, and Disulfiram.

You can get plenty of advantages by enrolling in twelve steps programs; these benefits include:


The most important advantage is that the 12-step program helps you maintain sobriety and meet new people with similar goals. It provides an excellent opportunity to make a solid, sober community that supports their recovery.



Attending regular meetings keeps you attentive and reminds you to stick to your goals on the recovery path. You are more encouraged by the people with you on this journey, which helps you stay positive and committed.



In a 12-step program, you barely experience boredom. Daily meetings and group activities keep you grounded, and this reduces the chances of cravings and relapse.



It gives you a chance to help others in their recovery through peer communication. You forget your problems after listening to others and put effort into assisting them in maintaining sobriety.


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What are 12 step programs
How do 12 step programs work?
What are the 12 steps?
Benefits of a 12 step program
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