7 Frequently Asked Questions About Twelve-Step Programmes

How and why it works, and who benefits

Acknowledging helplessness. Accepting your faults with humility. Recognising the specifics of your wrongdoings. Removing your character flaws. Making direct amends. Assessing one’s moral character bravely and enhancing one’s connection with a power greater than oneself. Awakening on a spiritual level. Not only does the vocabulary of the Twelve Step programme for addiction treatment initially appear odd, but many elements are also commonly misinterpreted or misunderstood.

Twelve Step recovery programmes can be an effective source of help and support if you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder (drug or alcohol addiction, alcoholism, or substance abuse). 

The following seven frequently asked questions about Twelve Step programmes, principles, and practises:

image by Jared Rice From Unsplash

How Do Twelve-Step Programmes Work?

The Alcoholics Anonymous book, commonly called the Big Book and initially published in 1939, contains a list of principles known as the Twelve Steps. The Steps provide a plan of action for addiction recovery and, more generally, a fresh outlook on life. 

To free your life from addiction, you must first accept that you are “powerless over alcohol,” acknowledge that your life has become unmanageable as a result of your use of alcohol, and be willing to change whatever you can (your attitudes and your reactions to people and events). 

These are the fundamental principles of the 12-Step recovery programme. Participants in the Twelve Step programme construct a list of everyone they have hurt, and if doing so doesn’t result in more harm, they try to make amends. Another essential Twelve Step recovery practice is taking a continuing personal inventory and admitting how you have harmed others, your relationships, and yourself. The 12-Step recovery approach includes essential elements like forgiveness, trust, humility, acceptance, love, and service.

Another fundamental element of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is Twelve-Step support groups. Individuals can experience the recovery path at their own pace in a mutual support group while accepting responsibility for their actions with the support and understanding of a caring peer environment.

Various self-help organisations have adopted different versions of AA’s Twelve Step programme to deal with multiple addictions or compulsive behaviours. These self-help courses comprise:

  • Al-Anon
  • Alateen
  • Co-dependents Anonymous 
  • Nicotine Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous 
  • Cocaine Anonymous 
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous 
  • Marijuana Anonymous 
  • Heroin Anonymous 
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous 
  • Gamblers Anonymous 
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Workaholics Anonymous 
  • Co-dependents Anonymous

What Happens at Alcoholics Anonymous or Other 12-Step Programme Meetings?

First, you should know that there are no judgements or questions; the door is open to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and religious traditions. 

The purpose is to make you aware that you are not alone in your battle against addiction. The First Step’s first word is “We,” as is frequently observed.

The guidelines for 12-Step sessions are straightforward: Be punctual, show respect, and avoid talking over other people. 

Additional important details:

  • AA is a peer-based mutual aid organisation, not a programme for treating addiction
  • Participation is free and accessible at all meetings. Participants maintain anonymity, a custom partly developed to highlight all AA members’ equality and the recovery’s cohesiveness
  • Giving advice is not encouraged in “crosstalk”; nonetheless, participants are welcome to talk openly about their personal experiences
  • Sharing is optional and elective at the meetings

There isn’t a standard format for a 12-Step meeting. Before finding the best fit, we suggest attending a few different meetings.

A few people go to AA meetings before becoming sober. It’s all right. The desire to stop drinking is the only prerequisite for enrolling.

Attending a Twelve Step meeting could be something to do to change things around if you’ve ever been concerned that your drinking or drug usage could result in a downward spiral unless you do something.

A final “completion” of the Steps is not the end goal; working through the Steps is a continual and recurrent process to enhance your recovery practice.

Members often receive guidance from a “sponsor” – a member who is knowledgeable about the recovery programme as they learn how to work the Steps. Beyond group meetings, the sponsor can offer further one-on-one recovery assistance.

The aim of recovery, according to AA, is abstinence.

If you are anxious about attending your first meeting, remember that everyone in the room has been a newcomer at some point. They probably had the same doubts and fears before entering the room.

Does Belief in God Require Attendance at 12-Step Meetings?

Religious affiliation is not required to participate in or gain from Twelve Step support groups. Atheists are equally welcome in Alcoholics Anonymous, which welcomes people of all various religious and spiritual backgrounds. 

It would help to accept that the universe does not revolve around you. It’s not necessary to understand the “higher power” in AA as being God. Your higher power may be a member of the AA fellowship of love, family, nature, or sound energy.

Why Are 12-Step Meetings Held in Churches if the Programme Is Not Religious?

Churches frequently offer their facilities for free to Twelve Step meetings in localities worldwide. Twelve-Step meetings are also commonly held in schools, community centres, medical facilities, or addiction treatment facilities. 

Image by Scaled Web from Unsplash

How Can 12-Step Programmes for Recovery Help People Stay Sober?

Programmes that follow the Twelve Steps of recovery combine accountability, inspiration, knowledge, and service to help participants alter their internal dialogue. The group dynamic reinforces healthy ideas and behaviours. 

The 12-Step recovery Programme has been extensively researched and tested as a paradigm. Beginning 12-Step participation while in addiction treatment is associated with better outcomes. Additionally, regular, early, and frequent attendance and involvement are linked to improved results in terms of substance use. Higher “doses” of engagement might be required to lower the risk of relapse, even if even small quantities of involvement may be beneficial in improving abstinence.

How Do 12-Step Programmes Affect Aftercare of Treatment?

Following inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment, psychologists, psychiatrists, and addiction counsellors frequently suggest joining Twelve Step groups as a kind of aftercare for long-term sobriety. 

Many people continue their therapy after finishing a recovery program. This is especially applicable when an individual has a co-occurring psychological issue, relationship problems or career difficulties. Some organisations also offer recovery housing support to help the person stabilise in the early stages of recovery. 

The safety and support provided by 12-Step recovery programmes during the initial stages of recovery position patients for long-term success.

Group gatherings provide a secure setting for sharing one’s experience, resilience, and hope and for giving and receiving support and camaraderie. People who have this social support are less likely to relapse. On the road to recovery, hearing other people’s personal experiences of success and understanding how they avoid triggers and handle social pressures or environmental cues without turning to alcohol or other drugs is extraordinarily beneficial.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction issue, call Freephone at 0800 140 404

Related Blogs