What are 12 Step Programs?

In This Article

12 Step programs are support groups. There are a variety of groups that help address a lot of different kinds of self- destructive behavior. The 12 Steps address the psychology of the person with an addiction as well as the individual’s spirituality. It addresses their values, how they connect with others, and the willingness to engage with others and to humbly ask for help. They are created by and made up of people that share similar problems. People come together to share their experience, strength, and hope. These groups meet to continue helping each other stay sober and healthy. 


The 12 Steps began with a man called Bill W. He was an alcoholic in the 1930s that realized he could not stay sober. On his fourth and final stay in a hospital, after another alcohol binge, he had his own spiritual experience. With the help of a doctor that had helped him, Bill came to realize alcoholism is a disease. He came to believe alcoholics “suffered from a physical allergy and a mental obsession.” In 1935, he co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron, Ohio. In 1939, he published The Big Book. The Big Book is a piece of literature that has helped millions find recovery and stay sober. Bill W. understood that the alcoholic needed a ‘higher power’ and a community- a fellowship. He describes a way to stay sober that we know as The 12 Steps:

Step 1- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2- Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10- . Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 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.

Step 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.

Since 1939, The 12 Steps are no longer only applied to alcoholics. The practice is the same in these groups because it works. 12 Step programs are for anyone. They are free- community based groups that can help in a lot of ways. There are different 12 Step programs that address all kinds of different issues from substance abuse to mental illnesses and more. To name just a few there is AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), Al-Anon or Alateen (for Families of Alcoholics), GA (Gamblers Anonymous). These fellowships help people that are suffering. They help identify triggers, learn how to cope with an addiction, and live healthy sober lives.

Bill W. created a template that can help anyone trying to get sober and get healthy. Some rehabs are based on the 12 Steps, some provide meetings as part of their program, some rehabs make meetings available but not necessary. There are meetings everyday.

It is highly recommended that an alcoholic or an addict get into some kind of aftercare after leaving an intensive inpatient facility. Addiction is not cured overnight. These support groups are great for up keeping sobriety. They offer a community that understands the hardships and difficulties of life after drugs and alcohol. Everyday, these groups get together with the sole purpose of helping the alcoholic or the addict still suffering. These fellowships believe that people can help one another through sharing their own experiences, strength, and hope. That is why these programs work. These fellowships bring peers together to help support one another.


If you or anyone you know is looking to take that first step in recovery Call anytime 888-380-0667


Author: Kayla Beshada

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