12-Step Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous has been the model for 12-Step and 12-Tradition programs for many years for nearly every type of addiction.

The Purpose of the 12 Steps

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was created as a 12-Step program to overcome the addiction to alcohol. The steps of the program have served as a guideline for other addiction support groups. The guidelines have been adapted to fit the needs of the members of other addiction groups.

There are many 12-step programs for various addictions and compulsive behaviors, ranging from Cocaine Anonymous to Debtors Anonymous—all using the same 12 Step methods.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are based heavily on spirituality. However, many nonreligious people have found the program to be helpful in overcoming their addiction. The steps emphasize a presence of God or “higher power.” Each participant interprets the meaning of God or higher power based on their understanding and religious beliefs.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Recovery is a lifelong process. There is no right or wrong way to approach the 12 Steps of AA. Many participants of the program have discovered that they have to revisit completed steps from time to time in order to be able to fully tackle issues that led to their abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

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The 12 Traditions

Along with the 12 Steps on AA, there are 12 Traditions. These traditions are defined in the AA Big Book, which is the main literature used in AA meetings. Whereas the 12 Steps focus on the individual, the 12 Traditions focuses on the group. Other addiction support groups have also adapted the 12 Traditions to meet the needs of their group.

Here are the 12 traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority–a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Does the Model Work?

There has been no formal research conducted to determine the effectiveness of the 12 Step program. However, there have been overwhelming success stories that testify to the effectiveness of the program in the helping the recovering alcohol.

The 12 Step program provides support, encouragement, and accountability for recovering alcoholics. They are able to attend meetings regularly and find sponsorship support which will help them remain sober.

Finding Treatment

If you are interesting in finding a 12 Step program, there are more than 50,000 Alcoholics Anonymous groups nationwide. There are also thousands of others Anonymous groups for various addictions available. Call us now so we can help you find a meeting that meets your needs.