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What The 12 Steps Are & How 12 Step Programs Work

While the 12 steps in use today are based on the same ideas written by the founders of AA in the 1930s, the understanding of the term “God” has since broadened to refer to any “higher power” that a person believes in. Though the original Twelve Steps of AA have been adapted over time, the premise of each step remains the same for all recovery programs that use a 12-step model. Jacobson and Christensen’s (1996) Integrative Couples Therapy explicitly adds an acceptance component to the more familiar change interventions from couples behavior therapy. Talking about “solvable” and “perpetual” problems in relationships, these authors note that approximately 75% of the issues fall into the “perpetual” category. Differences in libido, neatness, spending habits, need for closeness or distance, and sociability often stubbornly resist efforts on the part of both the therapist and the other partner to change them. Absolutely not, say Jacobson and Christensen, and they describe ways partners can transform differences into intimacy and tolerate those differences – in addition to learning to compromise.

  • Depending upon which lens through which one views 12-step programs (member or researcher), the program’s 12 traditions are both strengths and limitations.
  • The dentist can, if he or she chooses, become part of the patient’s support group.
  • There are meetings located in each of the United States as well as Australia, Canada, Iceland, India, and New Zealand [75]; yet there is an absence of scholarly literature relative to its efficacy.

It is also important to address real barriers that make meeting attendance difficult, such as time, travel/transportation, and child care needs. In 2006 and 2007, an annual average of five million individuals age 12 or older in the United States attended a self-help group as a Alcohol intolerance Diagnosis & treatment means of trying to deal with alcohol or drug use issues (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2008). Of this number, approximately 45% attended because of alcohol only, 22% because of illicit drug use only, and 33% because of alcohol and illicit drug use.


Meta-analyses suggest a moderate effect size for the relationship between AA involvement and abstinence. There are more than 566 recognized Native American tribes in the U.S., and as a cultural group, Native Americans have experienced significant historical trauma and harms relative substance use and addiction. Some of the highest rates of substance use disorders are found among this population group.

12 step program

Just as the 12 steps outline the path to recovery for individuals struggling with addiction, there are also 12 Traditions that are the spiritual principles behind the 12 steps. The traditions focus on the importance of unity, effective leadership, and independence. They also address questions related to financing the group and managing public relations. Section IV presents the evidence surrounding 12-step mutual aid recovery.

Step Programs for Gambling Addiction

Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about their drinking problem. AA’s 12-Step approach follows a set of guidelines designed as “steps” toward recovery, and members can revisit these steps at any time. In this article, you’ll learn about what 12-Step programs and 12-Step facilitation is, what to expect and how they may help a person continue a life of recovery.

  • In addition to mutual support groups, whether they are 12-step programs or an alternative approach, getting professional treatment can significantly improve a person’s chances of recovery.
  • We do not impose our experience with problem drinking on others, but we do share it when we are asked to do so.
  • The following sections discuss factors to consider when choosing a 12-Step program.
  • As a first step in understanding Twelve-step approaches to the treatment of substance use disorders, several terms need clarification.
  • Estimated membership in Alcoholics Anonymous is 2,077,374 individual members and 125,557 groups as of 2019 [11].
  • By making research easy to access, and puts the academic needs of the researchers before the business interests of publishers.

Hailed as the standard for recovery from nearly any type of addiction, the Alcoholics Anonymous model of 12 steps and 12 traditions is one of the oldest treatment programs around. Evidence states that a key feature involves the provision of support, or a social network, to help people remain substance-free or achieve other behavioral goals. In fact, it appears that the so-called fellowship, or social benefit, is one of the aspects of the program that most closely links to abstinence.

Step 9

By taking notes on the effects of one’s addictive behaviors, they can identify what must change. Defining a personal higher Power early makes connecting with it much easier in later steps. Examples of a higher “Power” include a religious God, the universe, or karma.

12 step program

Nonetheless, there exists important challenges to researchers who seek to study recovery via 12-step mutual aid programs. Thirty two percent of members are introduced to AA by an AA member, and another 32% are introduced by a treatment facility. Thirty percent of AA members report being self-motivated to attend, and 27% are referred by a family member. Other referrals come through the criminal justice system (14%), and medical and behavioral health professionals (17%).

In addition to mutual support groups, whether they are 12-step programs or an alternative approach, getting professional treatment can significantly improve a person’s chances of recovery. Depending on an individual’s needs, such treatments may involve therapy, medications, or inpatient/outpatient rehab. Talk to your doctor about which options might be suitable for your needs.

12 step program

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