Have you heard about Alcoholics Anonymous? If yes, you must be aware of their 12-step program to recovery, developed in the 1930s by Bill Wilson. The 12-step program is one of the most widely used and recommended treatments for recovering from any type of addiction. The main idea behind this program believe that there is a greater power than yourself, spiritual connection, that can allow individuals to become a better version of themselves. The steps are done one by one to stop addictive behaviors and achieve happiness and wellness.


Types of 12-Step Programs/Groups


Alcoholics Anonymous is for those people who want to recover from alcohol addiction. But, there are other groups as well to aid and support people recovering from other addictive disorders. Though all of these disorders may be completely different in nature, we have learned that the core issues remain the same. Hence, these programs continue to use the same 12-step program for various addictions. To name a few:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Clutterers Anonymous
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous
  • Debtors Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
  • Food Addict Anonymous

Know The 12 Steps

The 12 steps are as follows, according to 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 Is A Higher Power?

The 12-step program was composed for everybody, and it doesn’t require that you have faith in a God when you start the program. If you don’t have any religious beliefs or feelings, you have the opportunity to characterize your own higher power. Your higher power should be whatever gives you the purpose and solidarity to keep battling for your own well-being and recovery.


For example, a higher power might be the strength that comes from your group. For other people, it very well may be the power of nature or some other entity that religion or church can’t contain. Your comprehension of a higher power is up to you. The vital takeaway from the 12 steps is that alcoholics need to begin to rely on a power greater than themselves in order to recover from addiction

The Pieces Of A 12-Step Program


A Group: The twelve steps of recovery are discussed and applied in a recovery group, meetings, and sponsorship. Most importantly, individuals from these groups underline self-admission of the addictive behavior they are recovering from.

Sponsorship: A sponsor is a person who has gone through the recovery process and is willing to help other people who are struggling with addictive disorders.

The Purpose of 12-Step Programs


Cognitive Restructuring: it is the ability to twist your thought patterns in a way that impacts your behavior. 12-step programs help in changing the core values and beliefs in an individual. In turn this affects a persons perspective and feelings towards alcohol and other substances.

Helping Families and Loved Ones: 12-step programs help the loved ones of people who begin working the 12 steps of recovery. Groups like Al-Anon are made for families of people who are struggling with addiction.

How Does The 12-Step Programs or Meetings Work?

  • Regular AA or other addiction meetings are held regularly all over the world.
  • These meetings present recovered addicts that show how they learned to cope with their disease. Often talks are outlined with “what I was like, what happened, and what I am like now.” Voluntary sharing, where addicts are welcome to share about experiences, feelings, and successes surrounding addiction and recovery, then continues.
  • Anonymity is an essential aspect of the group meeting process. The meetings are held to make people feel safe and protected. Names and experiences at addiction recovery meetings are held secret.
  • Such meetings are usually held in community centers and public spaces. There is no fee to attend these meetings. Addicts can choose be a part of these meetings anytime, anywhere.
  • Few meetings have a specific theme to discuss. The meetings are interactive, and members are encouraged to speak and share with other members.
  • You are not obligated to speak and share if you are not comfortable with it.

What To Expect Outside The Programs Walls

  • Members of 12-step programs are encouraged to get a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who will work closely with new members of the program and guide them through the 12 steps. They are people who are there for regular phone calls, emotional support, and guidance through a confusing thing called life.
  • Though the first few months of being clean from your addiction is the start, it is hardly the finish line. As members of 12-step programs begin to work the 12-steps, they begin to transform. With their transformation, doors begin to open around them. It is not uncommon to hear incredible stories of homeless men and women find a place in life that suits them. Many becoming wealthy, with healthy relationships, family, friends and most importantly, happiness.
  • Recovering addicts often find new friends and fellowship within the rooms of these 12-step programs. 


The 12 steps of a recovery program can be a powerful tool to assist people that are trying to be freed from addiction. Though sometimes this alone may not be enough. Often times the safety and stability of a treatment center or sober living home can be the catalyst that one needs to push through the wall of early sobriety.