Intro to 12-Step Programs

It's probably fair to say that what comes to mind when most people think of a recovery program are the 12-Step programs, namely Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA is indeed the granddaddy of recovery programs, and a whole lot of people have found their way to recovery by working the twelve steps.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous is no longer the only 12-Step program around, the DNA would trace back to AA. Although this article will be about 12-Step programs in general, you can be sure that there will be future blog posts specific to Alcoholics Anonymous. Not only is AA the grandfather of the other 12-Step programs, but it continues to be the best known recovery program. If it's a dinosaur, it's still very much alive.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • 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.
  • 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.

The above twelve steps are the guiding principles of AA members on the path to recovery. The AA twelve-step program has been adopted or modified for
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use by several other organizations, including religions or denominations seeking a more specific religious component to the program, as well as others that have removed the spiritual component.

Additionally, the 12-Step concept has been used to deal with addictions to substances other than alcohol, as well as to harmful behaviors.

A few 12-Step programs

  • Alcoholics Anonymous - The grandfather of 12-Step groups, intended as a self-help fellowship of people in recovery from alcoholism. AA is the largest 12-Step organization.
  • All Addicts Anonymous - A 12-Step program for people in recovery from any addiction, whose use of a substance or behavior has become harmful, habitual, and compulsive.
  • Celebrate Recovery - A distinctly Christian recovery program based on AA's 12-steps, but incorporating eight additional principles based on Christ's teachings.
  • Cocaine Anonymous - A fellowship of men and women who come together to provide mutual support in recovery from addiction to cocaine, using the 12-Step model.
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous - A 12-Step program for people with a dual diagnosis.
  • Narcotics Anonymous - A 12-Step model of recovery developed for people with various substance use disorders. It is the second-largest 12-Step organization.
  • Secular Organization for Sobriety - A 12-Step alternative for those who are uneasy with the spiritual aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This is a sampling of the 12-Step programs that may be available, and is not intended as a comprehensive list. In addition to programs designed to assist those in recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorders, there are 12-step programs to deal with gambling, sex addiction, overeating, depression, and other problems.

There are also several programs that do not use the 12-Step program, and we'll be introducing some of them in future articles.

There are several paths to recovery, and recovery is good, however you get there.