12-Step Programs for Addiction Treatment

Using a 12-Step Program for Addiction Recovery

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, a 12-step program can be an excellent way to overcome your disease. The 12 steps are not a religion, but they are based on principles that derive from Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism. The steps are a way to help you recover from an addiction, and they have been proven to be effective. Because of this, they are offered in many treatment centers.

After people learn the specific meaning of each of the 12 steps and take personal responsibility for their own recovery, they are then able to continue their personal recovery journey. This 12-step program is a way for people to start their own path to recovery from any type of addiction.

12-Step Program

What Is a 12-Step Program?

If you have heard of the 12-step program, you have most likely heard it in reference to a treatment center. These programs are based on the 12 Steps developed as part of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s. The first use of this type of program was in 1939 when Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith used it to recover from their alcohol addictions. The program is a way for people to overcome their dependencies, and using all of the tools that are offered in treatment, it can be a very effective way for people to recover from their addictions.

The 12 Steps

The program is based on a series of 12 steps that are designed to be a road map for people who are struggling with any type of substance addiction. The following covers each step in greater detail.

1. Admitting That You Are Powerless Over Your Addiction

To start the program, you must first admit that you have a serious problem. You must recognize that you have lost control of your life and your disease. This step is an important one because it is the first one that anybody has to work on to start their recovery journey. Doing this allows you to uncover feelings of shame and guilt, which help people realize the problems that they have with their addictions.

2. Believing in a Greater Power That Could Restore Your Sanity

The second step in the program is about believing in a greater power. This step is based on the idea that there is a higher power that can help you. If you have faith in this greater power, it will give you the strength to overcome your addiction. This step allows you to take back control of your life, and it gives you hope for a positive future.

3. Making a Decision to Turn Your Life and Your Addiction Over to The Higher Power

In the third step, you officially decide to turn your life around and turn over your addiction to a higher power. You realize that you can’t do it alone and that you must have the support of a higher power. You must have an active commitment to recovery and keep on the path. This depends on how you have understood the higher power that you have made your decision to trust. This can have a positive effect on your life and will make it easier for you to overcome your addiction.

4. Making a Personal Moral Inventory

This step is about finally looking at your life and all the bad things that you have done. This includes everything from the harmful experiences to your past feelings of self-hatred. It is only after going through a thorough moral inventory that you can really make an accurate decision on whether or not you are ready to leave your addiction behind.

5. Admitting Your Wrongdoings to the Higher Power, Yourself and Others

In this step, you admit that you have done a lot of things that are wrong, and they have affected you and others in many ways. This is a way for you to truly take responsibility for your actions and your behavior. It is the first step in accepting yourself and the control that you do have over your addiction.

6. Readiness for the Higher Power to Correct the Shortcomings in Your Character

In Step 6, you are ready to accept the fact that you have flaws. The higher power that you have put your trust in can help you correct these imperfections. As you learn to accept the flaws, you will have a better understanding of yourself and your life.

7. Humbly Asking the Higher Power to Correct the Defects in Your Behavior

In Step 7, you are finally ready to accept that you have some serious defects in your character, and you need help with them. You are asking for help and reassurance from your higher power, and you are asking for guidance through the difficulties of your recovery.

8. Making a List of All the Defects in Your Character and Behavior and Willingness to Make Amends

In Step 8, you list all the defects that you have in your character and your behavior and take full responsibility for them. You are finally ready to start making amends and change your behavior in a positive way. You are willing to start making amends to those who you have hurt and disappointed.

9. Making Direct Amends to Those You Have Harmed

In Step 9, you are finally ready to make direct amends to those who you have harmed in some way. This can include making amends to friends, family members, employers, or coworkers. This is a step that helps you take responsibility for your actions and behavior, and it allows you to learn new ways of thought and action. The exception is that if making amends could harm other people or their interests then you can move on to the next step.

10. Continue Making Amends Wherever Possible

This step is about making continued amends and taking full responsibility for your actions. You are trying to make things right and looking for ways to make things better. Accepting your wrongdoings and making amends is a huge step towards acceptance and recovery.

11. Looking for Enlightenment and Conscious Contact with the Higher Power Through Meditation and Prayer

Step 11 can take several different forms, and it is best to let your relationship with a higher power take the lead. Prayer and meditation are one of the most important ways to receive help and guidance. This step is about giving yourself over to the freedom that you have been looking for. The higher power will guide you, and there is a great chance that you will be able to connect with it. This step is about finding your inner peace as you move forward in your recovery.

12. Determining to Carry This Message of Hope to Other Alcoholics and Addicts

In Step 12, you are ready to take a personal inventory of your life and your recovery progress and share it with other people who are struggling with their addictions. You want to share what you have learned, and you want to help other people who are suffering. You are determined to carry the message of hope to other drug and alcohol users in an attempt to make a difference in their lives.

How Long Do the 12 Steps Take?

It is best to follow a 12-step program as long as it takes. You will never get over your addiction until you truly understand and accept yourself. Only then can you make solid choices in your life and be ready for the next step in your recovery. However, typically it takes approximately 90 days or meetings before you see a significant improvement in your life to become one step ahead of your addiction. During this time, you are likely to experience intense discomfort from your addiction, so it is best to stick with the program and those who can help in your recovery.

Is the Program Effective

The program is very effective because it takes you through the right steps and shows you how to turn your life around. It seems simple and easy, but in reality, there are many challenges that you will have to face. However, you know that you have the help of your higher power, and there are other members who have gone through what you are going through. You should not give up on the program or yourself for any reason. It works if you work it.

Significance of the Program

The program has been suggested, promoted, and used as a great way to recover from addiction. Here are some of the benefits of the program.


A 12-step program is a great source of hope. It is an easily understandable and structured approach to recovery. One of the main problems with addiction is giving up, but the program gives you hope that you can ultimately recover from your addiction. You can have a better life, even if you have failed in the past.


When you are suffering from addiction and you find yourself alone, there is no one to turn to. However, a 12-step program gives you a community of people who have made the same mistakes that you have and who love and care about each other. There are also many meetings to attend in your area.


You may already have support from your friends and family, but a 12-step group gives you the chance to work with those who understand what you are experiencing, and they also give you a chance to help other people who are suffering, which can give you a focused purpose while in recovery.


You can recover from addiction if you have integrity in your life. The program does not judge you for your actions, and it does not tell you what to do. It simply guides you through the steps of recovery, and it gives you the strength to carry out those steps. You become accountable for your actions, and you can turn your life around. This is the key to being strong and healthy in your life.


A 12-step program gives you an acknowledgment of the problems that you are going through. Most group members want to protect you from your problems. They do not want you to become self-destructive, and they simply give you the lessons that they have learned. However, you need to acknowledge the problems that you are facing. You can finally take ownership of your addiction, and this is very important to recovery.

Finding the Best 12-Step Rehab Program for You

Fortunately, it can be quite easy to find 12-step programs in many areas of the country. If you have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program for substance use disorder, you may already have one or more 12-step groups that you are part of. If not, you can find resources online. There are many variations of these programs to fit specific groups of people and their needs. If you are having trouble finding a 12-step group, you can reach out to a recovery center for guidance.

A 12-step program can provide a great way to recover from addiction. It is structured and simple and can be used with other types of therapy for a complete recovery solution. That’s why these programs are part of most rehab facilities across the country. If you or your loved one is struggling with substance use, finding a 12-step rehab program is a great place to start the journey to a life free of addiction.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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