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Twelve Step Recovery Program

is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems

Twelve Step Recovery Program

A Twelve-Step Program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioural problems. Originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a method of recovery from alcoholism, the Twelve Steps were first published in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism in 1939. The method was then adapted and became the foundation of other twelve-step programs.

As Summarised By The American Psychological Association, The Process Involves The Following:

  • Admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion;
  • Recognising an alternative higher power that can help to create strength;
  • Examining past behaviours with the help of a counsellor and sponsor (experienced member);
  • Making gradual amends for these behaviours;
  • Learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour;
  • Helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.


Twelve Step Recovery Program Overview

Twelve-step methods have been adopted to address a wide range of substance abuse and dependency problems. Over 200 self-help organisations, often known as fellowships with a worldwide membership of millions, now employ twelve-step principles for recovery. Narcotics Anonymous was formed by addicts who did not relate to the specifics of alcohol dependency. Similar demographic preferences related to the addicts’ drug of choice has led to the creation of Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Pills Anonymous and Marijuana Anonymous. Behavioural issues such as compulsion for, and/or addiction to, gambling, food, sex, hoarding, debts and work are addressed in fellowships such as Gamblers Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous and Workaholics Anonymous. Auxiliary groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are for friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts and are part of a response to treating addiction as a disease that is enabled by ‘any’ family system.

Twelve Step Recovery Program History

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first twelve-step fellowship, was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, known to AA members as “Bill W.” and “Dr. Bob”, in Akron, Ohio. They established the tradition within the “anonymous” twelve-step programs of using only first names “at the level of press, radio and film. As AA was growing in the 1930’s and 1940’s, definite guiding principles began to emerge as the Twelve Traditions. A Singleness of purpose emerged as Tradition Five: “Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Consequently, drug addicts who do not suffer from the specifics of alcoholism involved in AA hoping for recovery technically are not welcome in “closed” meetings( recovering people only, no visitors who are welcome at ‘open’ meetings) unless they have a desire to stop drinking alcohol. The reason for such emphasis on alcoholism as the problem is to overcome denial and distraction. Thus the principles of AA have been used to form many numbers of other fellowships for those recovering from various addictions, each of which in turn emphasises recovery from the specific problems which brought the sufferer into the fellowship. In 1953 AA gave permission for Narcotics Anonymous to use its Steps and Traditions.

Twelve Steps Recovery Program From Alcoholics Anonymous.

Twelve Steps Recovery Program from Alcoholics Anonymous. The word ‘alcohol’ is replaced to accommodate other fellowships and no other words are changed in any way.
  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

In some cases, where other twelve-step groups have adapted the AA steps as guiding principles, they have been altered to emphasise principles important to those particular fellowships, and to remove gender – based language. Most of the alternate wordings are in Step 1 and Step 12; see List of Twelve Step alternate wordings.

Twelve Step Recovery Program Traditions

The Twelve Step Recovery Program Traditions accompany the Twelve Steps. The Traditions provide guidelines for group governance. They were developed in AA in order to help resolve conflicts in the areas of publicity, religion and finances. Most twelve-step fellowships have adopted these principles for their structural governance.

The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows.
  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern
  3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers
  6. An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose
  7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centres may employ special workers
  9. AA, as such, ought never be organised; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities