The 12-Step Program

Posted: September 21, 2020
Updated: October 6, 2020

What You’ll Learn In This Drug Treatment Resource

Getting through the recovery process works better when you have someone watching out for you. One high-acclaimed type of support system is the 12-step program. Let’s learn more about this community-based program.


What’s the 12-Step Program?

The 12-step program is a vital part of the process of recovering from substance abuse. It stemmed from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recovery program.

It was first introduced by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Four years later, Wilson’s Alcoholics Anonymous was published. It explained the philosophy behind the 12 steps.

This program is applied in many countries around the world. It’s one of the best recovery programs that has benefited millions of individuals.

There are two main types of recovery groups that rely on the 12-step program. One is AA, as we mentioned earlier. The second is Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for anyone suffering from substance abuse.

Both of these programs depend on the mutual efforts of group therapy. They’re a great source of motivation for individuals to stay abstinent.

The 12 Steps

Here’s a brief description of each of the 12 steps.

  1. Be honest with yourself and admit there’s a problem that’s become unmanageable.
  2. Believe that recovery is possible.
  3. Decide to surrender and turn to the care of God.
  4. Do some honest soul searching.
  5. Admit to God, yourself, and others where the source of the problem stems from.
  6. Be ready for a change for the better. This is the acceptance phase.
  7. Ask God to remove your shortcomings.
  8. Write a list of everyone you harmed and be willing to make amends.
  9. Make direct amends unless it would cause more harm to them or others.
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and be accountable.
  11. Seek prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God.
  12. Pay it forward by spreading the message of the 12 steps into your daily life.

Rehab and Aftercare Support

One thing both the AA and NA have in common is that they’re often integrated into rehab programs. Together, they boost the individual’s resilience to successfully stay on the recovery process.

When a patient leaves the treatment facility, the 12 steps should remain part of their aftercare support. They become key elements in the individual’s road to continued sobriety and recovery.

Benefits of 12-Step Programs

Several studies and research has been carried out on the efficacy of 12-step programs. They show that those who use the program have a higher chance of a positive recovery process.

An important benefit is that they provide a sense of community. It’s a critical factor in the recovery process. This sense of belonging engages feelings of security. This, in turn, provides the right structure for life to get back on the right track.

Support systems also reduce the risk of relapsing. Being accountable prevents patients from being in places linked to alcohol or other drugs.

One of their mottos is, “If you work it, it works.” This emphasizes the importance of accountability on the individual’s part. It’s an integral part of the recovery process.

The 12 steps also highlight religious aspects. In times of hardship, religion can act as a great motivator for those who identify themselves as spiritual. That’s why it’s not the best choice for seculars.

A Final Note

The community-based 12-step program has become a pathway to recovery. It’s a beacon of hope for the future. This program has played an instrumental role in many people’s lives ever since it first started more than 80 years ago.

To this day, these 12 steps are still working to lay the groundwork for many aftercare support programs. They give individuals a trusted place to turn to help them remain abstinent throughout their lives.