12-step programs have been a staple element of addiction treatment and recovery for more than eight years. First originated in 1935 by two gentlemen in Akron, Ohio (both in search of freedom from alcohol addiction) and officially put into text in 1939. The 12 steps have helped millions worldwide achieve and maintain sobriety. Since its beginnings as a program to help recovering alcoholics, the steps of the original program have been altered or modified to accommodate many addictive and behavioral struggles. The tenants of the 12 steps have helped addicts, their loved ones, family and friends successfully and safely negotiate the challenges often present during addiction treatment and recovery.
What Is a 12-Step Program?
The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous created the 12 steps to establish guidelines for the best way to overcome alcohol addiction. Although many of the “steps” are based on spiritual principles, many who are not religious have found success in the program’s guidance and process. A 12-step program is a way for recovering addicts to find fellowship and support at any stage in their recovery. The premise of Alcoholics Anonymous (and modern 12-step programs) is that people can help one another overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol by leaning on each other and the support of a “higher power” throughout their recovery journey.
What Are the Different Types of 12-Step Programs Available?
The original 12 steps have helped people of all ages stop drinking and using and find a healthier and stable path forward into a substance-free way of life. Since the program’s founding, the early guidelines have shown enough success to branch out into other addiction support groups. Today, many versions of 12-step programs are designed to provide treatment and recovery guidance for various addictions and compulsive behaviors. It is possible to find support groups and meetings for addictions to various drugs, hoarding, gambling, excessive spending, disordered eating, food, nicotine, sex, gaming, and a host of others.
What Are the 12 Steps in a 12-Step Program?
It is essential to note not all 12 step programs follow the same pattern. While some programs may follow the original 12 steps, others are more loosely patterned after the guidelines of Alcoholics Anonymous, and therefore, the steps may be slightly different. The initial 12 steps set forth by the program founders are designed to help addicts progress forwards towards long-term sobriety. Members can revisit or repeat any step at any time. The 12 steps as taken from the AA manual 1 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.
- We’re 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.
For more than eighty years, the founding principles set forth by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous have provided life-saving and life-changing support and structure for millions of people around the world struggling to recover from addiction. Many addiction treatment programs like Ardmore Recovery integrate the 12 step teachings into various aspects of treatment planning. If you are ready to begin your treatment journey, reach out to Ardmore Recovery today to learn more about the benefits of the 12-step treatment approach.