12-Step Programs for Addiction Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is the oldest and largest peer-to-peer support organization for those who struggle with alcohol use disorder. It is a widely recognized and highly accessible 12-Step program for substance misuse.1,2

On this page, you will learn more about what the 12-Step program is, how it works, what the benefits are, and how to find twelve-step facilitation (TSF) for addiction treatment.

What Is the 12-Step Program?

The 12-Step program is a tool used to promote long-term sobriety with the support of peers dealing with similar addiction struggles.2 The program is based on a set of 12 guiding principles—called the 12-Steps—that aim to enable recovery from alcohol use disorder or addiction.2

Those who practice the 12-Steps work through each of the steps and come together to share their experiences with one another at organized no-cost meetings.2

The 12-Step program structure originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) back in 1935 but has since been used as a model for those with other types of addictions who desire to change their addictive behaviors.3,4

In addition to the individual-focused 12-Steps, the recovery approach also has 12 Traditions that offer guidelines for the group as a whole.3

What Are the 12-Steps?

The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Steps of recovery are listed below:5

  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 other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What Happens at a 12-Step Meeting?

What happens at a 12-Step meeting may vary depending on the format chosen at the local meeting you attend.6 However, there are general guidelines most meetings will follow. Meetings may be either open or closed:6

  • Open meetings may be attended by anyone, even those not dealing with an addiction, who may be interested in learning about the program.
  • Closed meetings are strictly for those who want to stop drinking alcohol or using drugs.

Attendees are not required to open up or even introduce themselves, which is why these groups are usually referred to as “anonymous.”6

Meetings typically begin with remarks from a member serving as the chair or leader. Some groups recite the serenity prayer.6

After the opening remarks, there are several common formats followed by different groups. These may include:6

When the meeting is over, members typically socialize and get to know one another to build lifelong support systems and friendships.6

Different Types of 12-Step Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous is only one of the 12-Step programs available for ongoing recovery. The benefits of 12-Step programs can be experienced by people with addiction to different substances. Some other popular 12-Step programs include:7

  • Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Cocaine Anonymous.
  • Marijuana Anonymous.
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous.
  • Heroin Anonymous.

Non-Religious 12-Step Programs

While the original 12-Step program does mention God and has a focus on a “higher power,” it is open to agnostic and atheist members.8 There are also secular groups that offer non-religious versions of the 12-Steps of recovery and other A.A. literature.9

SMART Recovery is another secular alternative to the 12-Step program for those who are looking for a non-religious substitute that is still a peer-support recovery program.10

Even though the SMART Recovery system is not a religion-based 12-Step program, it is grounded on similar doctrines and beliefs toward addiction recovery as the 12-Step program.10

SMART Recovery offers meetings tailored to specific groups affected by addiction. These include:10

  • Individuals.
  • Family and friends.
  • Veterans and first responders.
  • Young adults.
  • LGBTQ+ persons.

Are 12-Step Programs Effective?

Strong evidence supports the effectiveness of 12-Step programs and twelve-step facilitation (TSF) for increasing abstinence in people who struggle with alcohol misuse.1 Additional studies demonstrated 12-Step program attendance predicted a reduction in substance use and problems with substance use, including alcohol.11

As a result of their effectiveness, these 12-Step self-help programs are not only used for aftercare. Many treatment programs recommend and facilitate 12-Step programs during drug treatment as an added support for recovery throughout addiction treatment.4

12-Step Program Facilitation at Desert Hope

Desert Hope Treatment Center employs evidence-based TSF therapy in conjunction with medications and other behavioral health interventions for comprehensive alcohol use disorder care.

Currently, Desert Hope facilitates the following support groups for addiction treatment and recovery:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • SMART Recovery.

Meetings for these groups usually take place every week at the treatment facility.

Participation in 12-Step programs for addiction recovery can help lengthen the benefits of treatment by inspiring patients to maintain abstinence along with promoting lifelong healthy behaviors.4

Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas

Desert Hope Treatment Center offers both outpatient and inpatient rehab in Las Vegas, Nevada, to help you or your loved one recover from alcohol or drug addiction.

Using various ways to treat addiction, Desert Hope customizes treatment for each person’s individual needs. Our alcohol and drug rehab center provides several levels of addiction treatment, including:

  • Medical detox.
  • Inpatient rehab.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation.
  • Sober living.
  • Aftercare, including 12-Step program facilitation.

Helpful admissions navigators will make the admissions process easy. Whether you are paying for addiction treatment out of pocket or using insurance that covers rehab, our navigators can help you find the best way to cover your treatment.

To quickly and securely check your insurance coverage for rehab, complete our .

If you or a loved one need help, contact Desert Hope and get admitted today. You deserve to begin your recovery journey. Call now.

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Desert Hope is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is easily accessible from most locations in the Southwest. We offer a full continuum of care that spans from inpatient medical detox and rehab to outpatient services and sober living. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs near Vegas or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.