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What Is A 12-Step Program For Addiction?


The 12-Step Program began with Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, designed to be a process of steps for overcoming alcoholism. Over time, other organizations adapted their own versions of the 12 steps to serve those with other addictions, such as drug addiction, gambling, sex, and eating.

What Is The Purpose Of The 12 Steps?

The purpose of 12-step programs is for those struggling with addiction to admit their problem and to break from their mental obsession with the substance that causes compulsive behavior and inability to remain abstinent. 

Self-admission is important, which is why meetings typically begin with attendees saying, “Hi, I’m [name], and I’m an alcoholic.”

How Does The 12-Step Program Work?

Twelve-step programs take individuals with addiction through a series of steps that are intended to diminish self-centeredness and replace it with selflessness and moral consciousness–known as “spiritual awakening.”

What Are the 12 Steps?

Here are the 12 steps, as written in The Big Book of 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 all 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.

What Are the 12 Traditions?

The following are the 12 Traditions, according to Alcoholics Anonymous:

  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 non-professional, 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 to 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 12-Step Program Work?

Every person is different, but a 12-step program in conjunction with other treatments a person may need can be very effective for treating addiction, but it does require commitment and consistency.

Into Action Recovery Centers Offers an Individualized 12-Step Program for Addiction

Our excellent team of counselors serves our clients based on the 12-step mindset, emphasizing honesty, personal accountability, reconciliation, and selflessness. 

If you or a loved one need help overcoming addiction, we’re here to get you started on your journey to life-long sobriety. 

Call us today at 844-303-3969 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our programs.

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