The 12-step programme

This Page was last reviewed and changed on February 25th, 2022

Content Overview

The 12-step programme is a form of therapy which provides clients with a set of 12 clear steps towards addiction recovery. These steps are structured to create a beginning-to-end transformation from the early stages of acceptance all the way to rebuilding your connection with others.

This page explains how the 12-step programme can be a hugely helpful method of addiction rehabilitation. Informed by spiritual virtues such as compassion and altruism, the steps encourage you to reflect on your lifestyle choices, understand the cycle of addiction and learn to free yourself from your struggle with addictive substances or behaviours.

The roots of 12-step therapy

Established and first practiced by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) in the 1930s, the process of completing your 12 steps required you to accept that you cannot control your addictive behaviour or substance abuse. Once you have opened yourself to receiving help from others, you can begin to make amends with yourself and with others by accepting the guidance of a ‘higher power’.

You can interpret your ‘higher power’ to be a person or it could also be an acronym. For instance, ‘GOD’ could stand for ‘Good Orderly Direction’. It could also be something meaningful to you, such as a family member, friend, religious God or your support group.

At its core, the 12-step programme aims to help you access your inner sources of spiritual strength. The later steps teach you how acting with honesty, compassion, open-mindedness and altruism can help you to become and happier and healthier person. No longer consumed by substance abuse or addictive behaviours, giving back to others can help you to heal and continue to make a holistic addiction recovery.

Your 12 steps towards addiction recovery

Step 1 – Acceptance
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Step 2 – Trust
“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
Step 3 – Liberation
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
Step 4 – Understanding
“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Step 5 – Acknowledgement
“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 6 – Freedom
“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Step 7 – Growth
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Step 8 – Reflection
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Step 9 – Forgiveness
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Step 10 – Continuity
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step 11 – Connection
“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.”
Step 12 – Helping others
“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.”

Is the 12-step programme effective?

If you decide that the 12-step programme is not the right treatment for you, we provide an alternative at Oasis Runcorn. Here, we offer the Strengths model programme to those who do not wish to participate in 12-step therapy.

However, 12-step therapy has long been a very effective treatment for addiction rehabilitation. Although the programme originates from AA, the 12-step framework is now widely implemented across many rehab clinics. This therapy is utilised in inpatient rehab for:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug addiction
  • Behavioural addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • 12-step therapy is also implemented in group setting outpatient fellowships, such as:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Gambling Anonymous (GA)
  • Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • 12-step programme and inpatient rehab

    Starting your 12 steps at AA or on your own can be difficult if you are not sure how to properly implement the guidelines into your daily routine. One of the greatest benefits of attending an inpatient programme at a residential rehab centre is that our specialist therapists can walk you through the 12-step therapy book known as the ‘Big Book’. Their expertise allows you to understand the book and learn what each step entails.

    All UKAT inpatient programmes incorporate 12-step therapy alongside other treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and trauma therapy. If you decide to begin your 12-step journey towards recovery at a private rehab clinic such as a UKAT rehab facility, you will be introduced to the programme.

    • 28 day programme – you will probably reach step two or three
    • 12 week programme – you will probably reach step seven

    It is not possible to complete all 12 steps of this therapy at rehab. Everybody completes the steps at their own pace and it’s important not to rush through them. Our highly-trained therapists introduce you to the programme and will teach you the tools you need to complete each of the steps once you leave the rehab centre.

    Our team will help you understand what teach step means and support you with step assignments. You might wish to look at our example timetable to see how our holistic therapy schedule uses the 12-step programme as an effective framework for your inpatient rehabilitation treatment.

    Your support group and therapists will ask questions and listen to your story, helping you create a plan to continue the 12 steps once you leave residential rehab. At UKAT, our therapists will be at your side during your treatment programme, but also during your one year’s free aftercare to ensure your continued support in completing the 12 steps throughout your addiction recovery.

    How can the 12-step programme help you?

    12-step therapy provides you with clear cut guidelines which aim to replace addictive thoughts and behaviour with positive, productive and achievable goals.

    The steps aim to teach you the importance of reflecting rather than dwelling on your actions. Once you accept your struggle, you can begin to refocus your life goals and open yourself to the support of your therapist, family and friends. The 12 step programme sets you on a clear trajectory for self-improvement from step 1 to step 12. You will still be you, but your addiction recovery can free you from your struggle, motivating you to achieve your personal goals and make amends with people who have been hurt by your substance abuse or addictive behaviour.

    If you are currently struggling, please get in touch and our helpful admissions team can guide you through your addiction treatment options.

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