What is the 12-Step Program?
The 12-Step recovery program was originally promoted by Alcoholic Anonymous. The program is a free peer group offered nationwide at treatment centers and rehabilitation clinics. This group is a very important part of long-term addiction recovery. Attending these groups provides a sense of community, holds you accountable and refrains those in recovery from relapsing. Peer support groups like the 12-Step Program and its alternatives are most effective when combined with formal addiction treatment.
The steps include:
- Admitting powerlessness over alcohol and that it has made life unmanageable.
- Coming to believe that a higher power can restore sanity and order.
- Making the decision to turn over personal will to the care of that higher power, devoting life to God.
- Making a searching and fearless moral inventory.
- Confessing to a higher power, to the self, and to another person the exact nature of personal wrongs and faults.
- Readying the self for that higher power to remove defects of character.
- Asking a higher power to remove those shortcomings.
- Making a list of all persons harmed and becoming willing to rectify those wrongs.
- Offering direct amends to such people wherever possible, except if doing so would cause them injury.
- Continuing to take a personal inventory; prompt admitting of any wrongs.
- Using prayer and meditation to strengthen the connection with the higher power.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these cumulative steps, spreading the message to those in need, and practicing these principles throughout life.
Until the 1970s, 12-step groups were the only option for those in recovery, but today there are many 12-step program alternatives for those who don’t relate to a focus on a higher power. While Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the first, it has inspired many other 12 steps like:
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for those with drug addictions
- Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA) for those with bulimia, anorexia and other eating disorders
- Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) for those with sex addictions
- Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) for those struggling with unhealthy relationship patterns
- Gambling Anonymous (GA) for those with gambling addictions
In recent years, a number of alternatives for AA and other 12-step programs have risen in popularity. They function in similar ways to the 12-step with meetings run by members without the fundamental role of spirituality and faith.
Why Select an Alternative to the 12-step Program?
Although the 12-step program has been immensely popular for several decades, there are some drawbacks that have allowed alternative groups to form and flourish. The complaints generally fall into three main categories: research questions its effectiveness; the central focus of spirituality and faith; and the possibility of coercion among those forced to attend meetings. Acceptance House Sober Living has offered some information for 5 alternatives to 12-step programs.
5 Alternatives to 12-Step Programs
Women for Sobriety
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (S.O.S.)
LifeRing Secular Recovery
No matter if you stick with the traditional 12-step or select one of the alternatives above, support groups are a critical part of long-term recovery. At Acceptance House Sober Living, our mission is to provide a safe and structured environment for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. We offer individualized treatment plans including 12-step, alternatives to 12-step, therapy, co-occurring disorders treatment and more.