New Lives Addiction Free Guide to 12 Step Recovery Programs (2023)

The Twelve Steps, created byAlcoholics Anonymous(AA), is a spiritual foundation for personal recovery from the effects of alcoholism, both for the person who consumes alcohol and for their friends and family.Al‑Anon Family Group.The 12 steps are also used in addiction recovery programs other than alcohol.

Many members of 12-step recovery programsHe found that these steps were not just a way to overcome addiction, but a guide to a new way of life. Some of the most popular 12-step programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

How the Twelve Steps Work

As explained in Chapter 5, "How It Works," in this bookAlcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Steps provide a recommended program of recovery that worked for early AA members and has continued to work for many others over the years, regardless of the type of substance they used.

The Twelve Steps themselves are the essence of Alcoholics Anonymous. These are instructions designed to provide members with a path to consistent sobriety and a substance-free lifestyle.

Twelve-step meetings are considered the "community" part of AA mutual support groups, where people come together and share their experiences.

For many people, these groups can serve as the main resource for behavior change, but they often also complement formal treatment. These programs can also be helpful for long-term care and guidance.

Research found that there are approximately 64,000 groups with more than 1.4 million members in the United States and Canada. There are approximately 115,000 groups worldwide, supporting over 2.1 million members.

the 12 steps

Although the original Twelve Steps of AA have been adapted over time, the premise of each step remains the same for all programs of recovery that use a 12-step model.

As you examine the steps in depth and see how others have applied the principles in their lives, you can use them to better understand your own experiences and gain strength and hope for yours.lazer. The steps and their principles are:

  1. honesty: After many yearsrejectionRecovery can begin with a simple admission of powerlessness over alcohol or other drugs to which the person is addicted. Your friends and family can also use this step to admit that your loved one has an addiction.
  2. To believe: Before a higher power can work, you must first believe in it. Someone with an addiction accepts that there is a higher power to help them heal.
  3. abandonment: You can change your self-defeating decisions by realizing that you cannot recover on your own; with the help of your higher power, you can.
  4. procure a alma: The person in recovery needs to identify their problems and have a clear idea of ​​how their behavior has affected them.others around you.
  5. integrity: Step 5 offers great opportunities for growth. The person in recovery must admit his mistake to his Higher Power and to the other person.
  6. assumption: The key to step 6 is acceptance: accepting character flaws as they are and being willing to accept them.let them go.
  7. modesty: The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, or asking a higher power to do something that cannot be done by will or sheer determination.
  8. support: this step consists of making a list of the ones you damaged before recovering them.
  9. sorry: Making amends can seem difficult, but for those who are serious about recovery, it can be a great way to start healing their relationships.
  10. maintenance: No one likes to admit they are wrong. But it is a necessary step to maintain spiritual progress in recovery.
  11. make contact: The purpose of Step 11 is to discover your Higher Power's plan for your life.
  12. Service: The person in recovery must carry the message to others and apply the principles of the program in all areas of his life.

The Twelve Traditions

Just as the 12 steps describe the path to recovery for people struggling with addiction, there are others.12 traditionthese are the spiritual principles behind the 12 steps.These traditions help make 12-step recovery programs work. Traditions focus on the importance of unity, effective leadership, and independence. They also deal with issues related to group funding and public relations management.

The purpose of the 12 Traditions is to provide guidelines for relationships between the group and the community and between individual group members.

History of the 12 Steps to Recovery.

The 12 steps of recovery established by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous are:

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives were out of control.
  2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We choose to entrust our will and our lives to the care of God as we understand Him.
  4. A meticulous and daring moral inventory carried out by ourselves.
  5. Admitting to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our mistakes.
  6. We were perfectly willing to let God remove all those character defects.
  7. We humbly ask you to eliminate our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all the people we had hurt and set out to make amends with all of them.
  9. Whenever possible, these people will be repaired directly unless you harm them or harm others.
  10. We continued to make a personal assessment and when we made a mistake we admitted it immediately.
  11. Strive through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, simply by praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Although the 12 Steps in use today are based on the same ideas written by AA's founders in the 1930's, the understanding of the term "God" has been broadened to refer to whatever "higher power" a person believes in.

(Video) 12 Steps: Addiction Recovery, One Day at a Time

Believing in this higher power can help someone find meaning in their life outside of addiction.For example, they may find a greater sense of community by joining a spiritual or religious group. Or they can dedicate themselves to prayer andMeditation. These can be healthy coping mechanisms that someone turns to during recovery.

What is "just for today" in NA?

Effectiveness of 12-step recovery programs

There are many different paths to recovery from substance abuse, and 12-step programs are just one resource that people may find helpful. Research suggests that 12-step interventions and peer support groups can be essential to recovery.

Self-reports collected from AA, NA, and CA indicate that the average duration of abstinence among currently participating members is five years. About a third of members say they remain abstinent for between one and five years.

More formal research also supports research findings from advocacy groups. For example:

  • Participation in 12-step recovery programs, in addition to specialized treatment for substance use, is associated with better overall outcomes.
  • Greater participation, especially when a person joins a 12-step program for the first time, is also associated with better outcomes.
  • Participating in activities and attending meetings can help reduce the likelihood that arelapse.

Pros and Cons of 12-Step Recovery Programs

While participation in the 12 Steps to Recovery can be beneficial for many people, you should consider the pros and cons of these programs before deciding whether this approach is right for you.


These programs offer several benefits, including:

  • A free resource for communities to address drug use issues
  • Immediately Available
  • community based
  • Encourages members to actively participate in recovery.
  • offersin lineand personal options


However, 12-Step Peer Support Groups may not be for everyone. Some potential challenges or disadvantages are:

  • Concomitant mental illness or chronic medical conditions may make it difficult to participate in 12-step groups.
  • This approach places full responsibility for addiction and recovery on the individual.
  • 12-step groups may be less effective for certain groups, including women, BIPOC and sexual minorities.
  • The emphasis on powerlessness can seem disabling to some people.
  • The emphasis on a higher power can alienate some people.
  • Does not address the physical aspects of recovery, such as B. Detoxification and Withdrawal


While 12-step recovery programs can be helpful, they aren't always the best option for everyone. They are an accessible, affordable, and convenient resource when people are recovering from drug use, but their emphasis on admitting helplessness and leaning on a higher power can be a problem for some people.

Alternatives to 12-step recovery programs

The 12 Steps to Recovery is not the only type of support available to people trying to overcome drug and alcohol use. Some alternatives to 12-step programs are:

SMART recovery

SMART recoveryit's a secular alternative to 12-step programs like AA. Rather than emphasizing powerlessness and embracing a higher power, the SMART Recovery approach emphasizes viewing substance use as a habit that people can learn to control. It is based on aspects ofCognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)and helps members build motivation, deal with cravings, change addictive thoughts, and adopt healthy habits.

Secular Sobriety Organizations (S.O.S.)

This program focuses on helping people overcome addiction by focusing on their values ​​and integrity rather than embracing a higher power. He encourages members to make sobriety the number one priority in their lives and to take the necessary steps to stay on the path to recovery.

(Video) The 12 Steps Simplified: Step 3

professional treatment

In addition to peer support groups, whether 12-step programs or an alternative approach, professional treatment can greatly improve a person's chances of recovery. Depending on a person's needs, such treatments may include inpatient or outpatient therapy, medication, or rehabilitation. Talk with your doctor about which options might be right for your needs.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug use or addiction, contact theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline.em1-800-662-4357Information about support and treatment centers in your area.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational Database of Support Lines.

What to expect from your first 12-step meeting

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Verywell Mind only uses quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. read ourpublishing processto learn more about how we verify our content and keep it accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. K. Blum, B. Thompson, Z. Demotrovics, et al.The Molecular Neurobiology of the Twelve-Step Program and the Community: Connecting the Dots for Recovery. Journal of Reward Deficiency Syndrome.2015;1(1):46-64. doi:10.17756/jrds.2015-008

  2. Dear TDAlcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step recovery programs. Primary Care: Clinics in Office.2011;38(1):143-148. doi:10.1016/j.pop.2010.12.002

  3. W., B. Chapter 5: How it works. In:Alcoholics Anonymous. 4th Edition New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc; 2001: 58-71.

  4. Donovan DM, Ingalsbe MH, Benbow J, Daley DC.12-Step Interventions and Peer Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview.Social Work in Health.2013;28(3-4):313-332. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.774663

  5. Alcoholics Anonymous.AA membership and group estimates as of January 1, 2012.New York, NY: A.A. General Service Office; 2012

  6. Nash AJ.The Twelve Steps and Adolescent Recovery: A Brief Overview.substance abuse. 2020;14. doi:10.1177/1178221820904397

  7. w, bTwelve steps and twelve traditions0.77 hours New York, NY: Publications of Alcoholics Anonymous; 2012.

  8. Sussman S., Reynaud M., Aubin H.-J., Leventhal AM.Drug addiction, love and the higher power.Health Assessment Prof.2011;34(3):362-370. doi:10.1177/0163278711401002

  9. Donovan DM, Ingalsbe MH, Benbow J, Daley DC.12-Step Interventions and Peer Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview.Social Service Public Health. 2013;28(3-4):313-332. doi:10.1080/19371918.2013.774663

(Video) AA's Not For Me? Straight Talk About 12-Step Recovery

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Buddy Tis is an anonymous author and founding member of the Al-Anon Online Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism.

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Does 12-step work for everyone? ›

Inevitably, while it works for many people, 12-step recovery does not suit everyone. Outside professional help can often provide additional necessary support to resolve mental health and other issues, particularly associated with early-life trauma.

What are the 4 C's of the addiction cycle? ›

These four factors, compulsion, craving, consequences and control, are unique to addiction alone and are classified as the 4 C's. The behaviors of most addicts are very similar.

What are the three P's in addiction recovery? ›

3 “P's” for Recovery: Passion, Power and Purpose.

What is the number one rule of recovery? ›

The most important rule of recovery is that a person does not achieve recovery by just not using. Recovery involves creating a new life in which it is easier to not use.


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