What Is 12-Step Rehab?


12-step rehab programs are quite helpful for people with both behavioral and substance addictions. Most people suffering from alcoholism have tremendously benefitted from this approach. Not only does this method help them to achieve sobriety, but it also keeps them on the track to recovery. 

This is most likely why it is a common addiction treatment plan. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in 2013 found that about 74% of rehabilitation centers use this approach. Visit https://law.jrank.org/ to learn more about SAMSHA.  

If you have questions about this rehab approach, then you are in the right place. Below we have discussed important things we believe you need to know about this rehabilitation plan. Starting from the most important of them all; what it means exactly. 

12-Step Rehab – What Exactly Does It Mean?

This rehabilitation method was developed and first used by the mutual aid fellowship known as Alcoholics Anonymous. This plan is aimed at helping people overcome compulsions and addictions. 

Just as you must have guessed from the name, twelve steps are involved in achieving sobriety with this plan. This rehab model believes that while people can help each other to achieve abstinence from substance abuse and even maintain sobriety, healing cannot be gotten until people with this condition submit themselves to a greater power. 

The greater power does not necessarily have to be God as portrayed by Christianity. It could be any higher authority that suits your spirituality. It could even be the universe or even the program community. However, because of the religious background of this approach, most people find themselves struggling with it; even though the approach can be quite helpful to them and their conditions. Luckily, there are several other alternative addiction treatment plans for people who would like the foundation of their treatment plans to be more secular. 

12-Step Rehab Program – History

In the year 1938, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous Bill Wilson penned down ideas that he developed based on his experience. In his writing, he talked about how people battling alcoholism experienced some positive effects from sharing their stories among themselves. 

The 12-step alcohol rehab was written in what is now called the Big Book. According to historical information gotten from the Alcoholics Anonymous site, these steps were developed not just from Wilson’s experience, but from concepts of other teachings that he had experienced. One of which is a 6-step program by the Oxford Group. 

Originally, this program is inspired by Christianity. It involves seeking aid from not just other people battling with the same condition but from God too, a greater authority. 

Then, Wilson’s book was a guide for those who could not go to Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship meetings. However, it soon generally turned into the program’s model. It has also become a guide for several other self-help and peer-support programs for behavioral change. 

Additionally, several other offshoot fellowships like Gamblers Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous now exist. 

The 12 Steps

The twelve steps of this plan according to the Big Book are: 

  1. Acceptance: The first step on the road to recovery is accepting how powerless one is over their alcohol (or other substances) addiction. 
  2. Faith: For the higher power to help, the person has to believe that the power can help them. 
  3. Surrender: Now, the person has to surrender and give control to the higher power to help them. 
  4. Soul Search: The person now has to look inward and see a clearer picture of their problem. Properly identifying it and understanding how it affected them and even those around them. 
  5. Admitting Their Wrongs: Since they now know their wrongs, they have to admit to them in the presence of someone else and the higher power. 
  6. Readiness: They have to be ready to let go of their shortcomings.
  7. Growth: They humbly ask the higher power to take away their shortcomings. 
  8. Reflection: List those they have wronged and the wrong they have done to them.
  9. Forgiveness: Contact the people on their list and make amends with them. If contacting someone they have wronged will harm that person, then they should not contact them. 
  10. Continuity: Keep reflecting, know when they are wrong, and admit to their wrongs.
  11. Connection: Connect with their higher power through meditation and prayer and seek enlightenment.
  12. Help Others: Help other people by sharing these steps with them and implementing the program’s principles in all aspects of their day-to-day life. 


One thing most people want to know when they hear of this rehabilitation approach is how effective it is. People should, however, know that efficacy often is relative. What we mean by this is that your goals will sometimes determine how effective a thing is. 

If you want to abstain from alcohol (or other substance) abuse, then this is one model you most likely will find extremely helpful. While those involved with this program say that investing yourself fully into it will produce obvious results, efficiency rates vary in different studies.

Some studies state that this approach is effective for both those with co-occurring mental disorders and non-comorbid people (those suffering from just substance abuse with no additional mental disorder). Other studies have shown that a lot of people (40 percent in the first year) drop out of these programs.  However, these programs are considered to be quite effective and even among the best approach for those looking to achieve long-term sobriety. Click here if you’d like to read up more about the effectiveness of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step rehab method. 


People who suffer from both behavioral and substance abuse can benefit a lot from the 12-step addiction treatment plan. This treatment plan’s main principle is admitting one is powerless over their addiction and letting a greater power help them beat their addiction.

This method is tested and proven to work and is employed by several addiction centers both in the United States and worldwide. If you are battling substance abuse and you think this approach will help you, then take the initiative and speak to your doctor or therapist about it.


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