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Benefits of 12 Step Programs

Benefits of 12 Step Programs

The 12-step philosophy was founded by Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and is used in most addiction treatment centers in the United States, including our rehab in Texas.

AA is an international organization of peer groups that meet together to offer each other support in addiction recovery. This group was created by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1935 and was originally intended to help people with alcoholism.1 The Big Book was published by the AA founders as a guide for people who couldn’t attend meetings, but eventually became a general model for the program. Since then, AA has been expanded to treat various substance abuse disorders, allowing more people to experience the many 12-step program benefits. 

What Is the 12-Step Program for Substance Abuse? 

The 12-step program for addiction is an approach created by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people with substance abuse disorders sustain their sobriety. The founders of the program believed that members could not achieve long-term sobriety until they completed all 12 steps.  

The basic principle of the 12-step program for drug abuse and alcoholism is that people can help each other achieve and maintain their sobriety, but healing cannot be achieved unless the individual surrenders to a higher power. Each step represents a major milestone that the individual needs to reach.  

Members in a 12-step program under the guidance of a sponsor will practice the following: 

  • Step 1: Admit you’re powerless over drugs or alcohol 
  • Step 2: Accept that a higher power, in whichever form, will restore your sobriety and sanity 
  • Step 3: Make the conscious decision to turn your life and will over to said higher power 
  • Step 4: Take a moral inventory of yourself 
  • Step 5: Confess to a higher power, another person, and yourself your wrongdoings 
  • Step 6: Accept that said higher power will remove defects in your character 
  • Step 7: Humbly ask the higher power to remove your shortcomings and defects 
  • Step 8: List the people you hurt during active addiction and want to make amends with 
  • Step 9: Continue to take accountability for your wrongdoings and admit when you’re wrong 
  • Step 10: Make amends to those you hurt during active addiction 
  • Step 11: Incorporate prayer and meditation into your life to connect with the higher power 
  • Step 12: Spread the message of the 12-step program for drugs and alcohol to others and continue to practice these principles in your daily life 

Most 12-step programs last for 90 days, during which the individual attends 90 group meetings where they ask questions, answer questions, and receive advice from a sponsor and others in the recovery community. There are also different types of 12-step programs, including Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Codependents Anonymous, Al-Anon, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous.  

This variety has opened the doors for individuals battling other addictions and mental health disorders to receive support. We offer a 12-step program at our Banyan Texas rehab that can help you or a loved one stay sober after rehab. 

Does the 12-Step Program Work? 

There has been a lot of debate on the success rate of 12-step programs and Alcoholics Anonymous, in general. However, many people have experienced AA and 12-step program benefits. One study concluded that the success rate of 12-step programs was over 70%. This statistic applied to individuals who attended a 12-step meeting weekly for 6 months and were found to have still been abstinent at their two-year follow-up.3  

Another study conducted on males from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs shared the abstinence rates for those recovering from alcoholism at one year and 18 months. The study showed that 20 to 25 percent of those who didn’t attend a 12-step program, such as AA, or any other form of aftercare stayed sober for one year. However, the abstinence rate was nearly double for those who attended AA or a similar 12-step program with no aftercare.3  

When incorporated with other forms of substance abuse treatment, members of 12-step programs receive support for their physical symptoms of addiction, as well. Even so, we must also consider that while the 12-step program does work and has worked for many recovering addicts, like any other form of addiction treatment, it may be more helpful to some than others. 

Banyan Treatment Centers Texas offers various Texas drug and alcohol treatment options to be able to help people battling various substance use disorders, including those related to alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, opioids, prescription pills, and more. We encourage individuals with addictions to undergo professional treatment before joining a 12-step program. 

What Are the Benefits of 12-Step Programs? 

Some benefits of 12-step groups and meetings include: 

  • Meetings are offered in multiple locations nationwide, making them accessible to people all over the country 
  • They provide structure in early recovery, encouraging the individual to avoid too much free time and opportunities for boredom 
  • They encourage commitment and accountability in recovery 
  • Offered peer support and sober community 
  • Education on how addiction happens and how treatment and programs like these help 
  • Various locations and meetings 
  • Ability to recognize and admit substance abuse problems 
  • Development of self-observation and self-awareness regarding behaviors that contributed to their addiction 
  • Development of relapse prevention skills and skills that promote self-restraint in addictive behaviors 
  • Opportunity to practice restraint and build self-esteem with the help of other sponsors and other members 
  • Achievement of self-acceptance and ability to change harmful or self-destructive behaviors 
  • Developed compassion for those who have been affected by and are struggling with addiction 
  • Gained tools that can be applied for the rest of their lives 
  • Opportunity to help others and possibly become a recovery advocate 

By offering these tools to individuals recovering from substance abuse, the 12-step model can be a method for change in many disorders and forms of behavior. As a result, it can aid in the addiction recovery process. 

Recovery begins with addiction treatment. If you’re interested in substance abuse care for yourself or a loved one, call us now at 888-280-4763 for more information about our addiction levels of care. 



AA – The Birth of AA and Its Growth in the US/Canada 

AA – An Introduction to the AA Recovery Program 

NCBI – Alcoholics Anonymous Effectiveness: Faith Meets Science 


Related Readings: 

How to Improve Self-Efficacy in Addiction Recovery 

Overcoming Burnout in Addiction Recovery 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Benefits of 12 Step Programs
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