12 Step Addiction Treatment Programs

Through the course of treatment, you’ll no doubt come across various 12 step methodologies. Almost everyone, even those without any prior experience with addiction, have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and other ‘anonymous’ meeting type support groups. Traditionally, they are free to start, free to attend and entirely anonymous (other than a first name of your choice for introducing yourself).

One of the primary methods of long term sobriety is the establishment of a support network. 12 step meetings are a popular choice and have proven themselves useful in a wide variety of cases. While not traditionally recommended as the sole treatment modality, they are often seen as a supplement to a primary addiction treatment program and a long-term solution for establishing a support network.

Interestingly enough, they all stem from the original book by the founders of AA: Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism, written back in 1939.

12 step programs are named for their “12 steps” to sobriety framework. The basic steps are:

  • 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 understood 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.

In addition to the 12 original steps, there are also the 12 Traditions, which serve as the guidelines for the group.

What are 12 step programs?

12 step programs are addiction treatment support groups. Millions of people all over the world attend one of the many types of 12 step meetings on a regular basis. While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was originally constructed to deal primarily with alcohol, other support groups have formed, forged from the framework laid forth by AA and established to treat other problematic addictions, compulsions or pathologies. Some of the larger support groups are:

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Sexaholics Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Co-dependents Anonymous

What do 12 step programs cost?

Most services and meetings do not require any payment of any sort. Part of the core founding principles state that the meetings would be open to anyone and everyone, and not exclude those who couldn’t pay.

Are 12 step programs religious?

No, not always. Though, one of the major principles is that of spirituality. Belief in something other than yourself is a fundamental principle of the framework. This can be the earth, the godhead, nature, or anything. There are no hard and fast rules for what the ‘thing’ is, only that it is greater than the self.