12-Step Approach

Counseling session

12-Step Approach

AA principles enhance our treatment approach

How AA Helps

Since its inception in the early 20th century, Alcoholics Anonymous (simply called “AA” by many) has grown exponentially. The peer recovery and self-help program has endured the test of time, growing in popularity, with current membership estimated to be more than 2 million members worldwide, according to AA.org. The original 12-Step program was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson alongside his friend Dr. Bob. In 1939, Wilson (known by most as Bill W.) wrote a book by the same name. Often referred to as “The Big Book,” the text is foundational in most AA meetings.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Small group therapy

The 12 Steps are a set of principles that support an alcoholic’s journey to recovery, and they have since been adapted for other fellowships, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The 12 Steps are rooted in Christian spirituality—but as fundamental truths, they have supported alcoholics and addicts of all worldviews on the road to recovery. The power of the 12 Steps lies in its emphasis on acceptance, honesty, connection, and responsibility, traits that have made 12-Step treatment effective for many.

The effectiveness of the 12 steps

AA’s 12 Steps focus on being honest with oneself and others, emphasizing these tenets:

  • Relinquishing control and accepting the help of others and a Higher Power
  • Acknowledging the impact of one’s actions on self and others
  • Taking proactive steps to right one’s wrongs and repair relationships
  • Committing to maintain the change created by practicing the steps and carrying the message of restoration to others in need

The 12 Steps promote self-ownership and responsibility, which is critical to personal development, and they also provide instruction for how to interact with others in a humble, healthy way. Research has proven that connecting with others has a significant effect on a person’s ability to recover from substance abuse. Both treatment professionals and those in recovery can attest to the power of community in helping individuals maintain sobriety, recover from relapse, and reach their goals.

A 12-Step History Lesson

Generally, 12-Step meetings occur in community buildings or churches, where space is rented or open during the week. They can occur on the grounds of an inpatient treatment center (for patients) or an outpatient center, but they are most often located in multi-purpose rooms where there is both privacy and accessibility to the community. These meetings have traditions based on what has been found to work, also known as the 12 Traditions. The essential keys to recovery, symbolized by the acronym HOW, are honesty (with self and others), open-mindedness (to explore new ways of thinking and behaving) and willingness (to acquire new behaviors and thought patterns).”


Using 12-step groups to support recovery

With its long history and proven track record, it makes sense that AA and the 12 Steps are still going strong. In our The Meadows Outpatient Centers use 12-Step groups and truths are integrated into the program to build community and provide patients with a bridge to sustaining recovery once treatment is completed. We use these time-tested principles alongside our research-backed protocols to help each person attain emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual recovery.

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