There are many different options for support while in recovery, but 12-step programs are one of the most popular and successful methods available.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the original 12-step program, founded in 1935. Today, there are dozens of different 12-step programs aimed at treating a variety of problems, ranging from drug or alcohol addiction to more uncommon struggles, such as chronic procrastination or an addiction to falling in love.

In this article, we’re going to break down the benefits of 12-step programs and explain why they’re so successful.

What are the 12 steps and how are they beneficial?

While AA was once the only 12-step program out there, 12-step programs have evolved far beyond being a tool strictly for people struggling with alcoholism.

To help you fully understand how the 12 steps can benefit individuals in recovery, we’ve described each step in detail.

1. Admitting and accepting you have a problem

This first step is often the most difficult. You must admit you have a problem, that your life has become unmanageable because of this problem, and you need help.

2. Believing that a higher power can aid in your recovery

The definition of this higher power depends on your own personal spiritual beliefs. It could be God in a traditionally religious sense. Alternatively, your higher power could be the universe or the community of the 12-step program.

In any case, choosing to surrender to a power greater than yourself relieves you of putting all of the pressure of recovery solely on your own willpower. Additionally, this belief can reassure you of the perfect, divine orchestration of your recovery journey, even when it might feel like a mess.

3. Surrendering control over to the higher power

The third step in the program involves recognizing that while you have the ability to change, you need the higher power’s help in order to grow into the best version of yourself.

4. Diving deep within yourself to take a personal and moral inventory of your life

At this point, you’re starting to develop self-awareness that you will use to perform an honest (but compassionate) assessment of your life as it stands and where you want it to go.

5. Admitting to the power, yourself, and someone else that you are struggling

Now that you’ve taken this self-inventory, it’s time to assume responsibility for your actions — a big step towards recovery — by admitting them to yourself, the power, and another person.

6. Accepting the power will help to improve your overall character

This step is where you acknowledge who you are in this moment and admit that you want and need the power to help you change.

7. Requesting the power to heal your shortcomings and improve your character

Humbling yourself can be a real challenge, but in requesting the assistance of the power to help you throughout your recovery and beyond, you empower yourself to grow even more.

8. Recognizing everyone you hurt in your addiction

Now you start to apply your healing to the relationships you hurt or broke during your addiction by choosing to atone for your actions back then.

9. Making amends (unless contacting them would cause further hurt)

Many people will accept you and your apology with open arms, but it’s important to recognize not everyone will be willing to rebuild a relationship with you. Be sure to offer to make amends to everyone, but always respect their boundaries.

10. Continuing to be self-aware of your thoughts, beliefs, actions

This is a continuation of step 4, as self-awareness is an ongoing practice. Self-awareness is key not only to addiction recovery, but also for overall self- and life-improvement.

11. Praying and meditating in order to connect with the power

Establishing a spiritual practice through prayer or meditation will help you discover more about the purpose you have on this earth and enable you to thrive on a deeper level.

12. Spreading the message of the 12 steps to others in need

The final step is to use the tools and experience you’ve gained to now help others on their journey to recovery, as well as continue utilizing the 12 steps in your life.

Success rate of 12-step programs

If you’re wondering if 12-step programs really work, your curiosity is valid. After all, there are plenty of treatments out there that are unsuccessful.

However, studies like this one published in Springer Link have found the 12-step program method to be successful for many individuals. The question isn’t whether or not they work in general, but whether they’ll work for you specifically. 

According to a recent study at Stanford, the primary reason why 12-step programs tend to be so successful is social interaction. In a 12-step program, you’re surrounded by people who are going through (or have already been through) what you’re struggling with. 12-step programs offer the support of like-minded peers, as well as receive tried-and-true guidance, as opposed to one-size-fits-all advice.

Contact us to find the right program for you

We know that realizing you or someone you love needs help can be overwhelming. An initial internet search can return millions of answers, and the information overload might discourage you from seeking treatment. 

Real Recovery is here to help. We’ve established a compassionate team of qualified professionals to support you throughout your recovery from start to finish. We offer a variety of customizable treatment plans to ensure you’re fully supported, not only exactly where you are right now, but throughout your entire recovery and beyond.

To learn more, give us a call today at 855-363-7325.