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Why Twelve Step Programs Work for Addiction

The Twelve Step Model of Recovery

Despite the seriousness of the disease of alcoholism and addiction, Twelve Step programs work—allowing people to achieve long-term sobriety. Addiction and is a pervasive and challenging problem that affects millions of individuals and their families worldwide.

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to help people overcome addiction. One such approach that has achieved widespread recognition and success is the Twelve Step Program. Let’s discuss why Twelve Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous work for addiction.

The History of Alcoholics Anonymous

The roots of Twelve Step Programs can be traced back to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. These two individuals, both struggling with alcohol addiction, created a support group to share their experiences and help each other stay sober.

The principles they established laid the foundation for the Twelve Steps, which has become the core of AA and many other addiction recovery programs.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping addicts and alcoholics recover for over 85 years! AA was born on the premise that alcoholics have the unique power to help one another. That concept, in combination with the steps, and spirituality has turned into a global movement. It has helped millions of people replace drinking and drugging for a new and beautiful way of life. Learn about the remarkable history of AA.

The Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps are a simple program of recovery that help heal addicts and alcoholics from the underlying causes that led them to begin abusing substances. Newly sober people may read the steps and be overwhelmed by them. Before assuming that they are too difficult or overwhelming, remember to work one step at a time and in order. Don’t worry about any other step than the one you’re on.

As the program promises, if you work the steps, you WILL be amazed before you are halfway through. The steps can be summarized as follows:


We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. Acknowledging that one is powerless over addiction is the first step. It encourages us to confront the reality of their addiction.


Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This step doesn’t require a specific religious belief but asks us to accept that a power greater than ourselves can bring order and direction to our lives.


Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Surrendering to this higher power means letting go of the control addiction has over our life.


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. By assessing past behaviors and actions, we are able to learn who we are and move on to become who we are meant to be.


Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. In this step, we share our inventory with our sponsor. This step is a powerful exercise that often offers tremendous emotional relief.


Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. This step is about BECOMING WILLING to let go of our character defects.


Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. The seventh step is where we ask our higher power to remove these defects of character.


Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Don’t worry about making amends yet. Step eight is only about making a list!


Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In this step, we make amends to the people we have harmed. It may be tempting to make amends on our own or immediately after we get clean and sober. Resist that temptation and follow instructions. The Twelve Steps work for addiction when they are done in order!


Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. We continue to regularly evaluate our actions and promptly admitting our wrongs.


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. Through prayer and meditation, we continue to improve their conscious contact with a higher power.


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 the twelfth step. we carry the message to others in need of recovery, thus perpetuating the cycle of support and sobriety.

Success Rates of Twelve Step Programs

The effectiveness of Twelve Step Programs has been a subject of debate, but numerous studies have shown positive outcomes. Success rates vary depending on factors such as the substance of addiction, individual commitment, and the presence of a strong support network. While exact statistics can fluctuate, it is widely recognized that Twelve Step Programs have helped countless individuals achieve and maintain sobriety.

The Role of Professional Rehab Facilities

While Twelve Step Programs provide valuable peer support, they are most effective when integrated into a comprehensive addiction treatment plan that includes professional rehab facilities. Professional facilities like Breakthrough Recovery Outreach offer residential treatment programs, on-site therapy, virtual counseling, and psychiatric services, addressing the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

Combining Twelve Step Programs with professional treatment can enhance the chances of long-term recovery. In conjunction with the necessary structure, medical support, and therapeutic interventions that complement the spiritual and emotional aspects of Twelve Step Programs, rehab improves the chance of achieving long-term sobriety.

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