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What Are The 12 Steps Of AA?

The 12 steps of AA can help alcoholics figure out how to get and stay sober. Read on to learn more about how the 12 steps work.

What Are The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a group that was first founded in 1935 that focuses on providing community support and a framework for overcoming alcohol use disorder, also called alcoholism.
The 12 steps were created for AA to codify what the program was already doing and make it easier to replicate the success of AA in other places, and without requiring the founders to be directly involved.
the 12 Steps Of AA

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What Are the 12 Steps of AA?

The 12 steps, shortened and simplified slightly, are:1

1. Admit that you are powerless over your condition.

2. Accept that a greater power can help.

3. Decide to turn yourself over to that greater power for support.

4. Search yourself and make a moral inventory and weaknesses and strengths.

5. Admit the exact nature of your flaws and wrongs to yourself and your higher power.

6. Accept that you are ready to have your flaws removed.

7. Ask your higher power to remove your flaws.

8. Make a list of the people we have harmed to make amends to them.

9. Begin and continue making amends to people you have wronged.

10. Continue to take inventory of yourself and make amends to people you wrong.

11. Seek knowledge of your higher power’s will and ask for the strength to follow their will.

12. Bring your knowledge and experience to other people after going through these steps.

What are the 12 Steps Simplified?

Simplified even further:
  • Honesty
  • Faith
  • Surrender
  • Soul Searching
  • Integrity
  • Acceptance
  • Humility
  • Willingness
  • Forgiveness
  • Maintenance
  • Making Contact
  • Service

The 12 Traditions Of AA

In addition to the 12 steps of AA, there are 12 traditions that are more like community guidelines than steps. These guidelines create a supportive and similar culture across chapters. 

References to the 12 traditions are more about upholding the behavior and cultural expectations than recovery, but they’re important for helping make 12-step programs feel similar across different regions.2

What’s The Purpose Of The Twelve Steps?

12-step programs are recovery management programs. That means that they exist to help provide a framework and support for recovery, and that can mean a lot of different kinds of recovery. Some of the most common 12-step programs focus on addiction treatment and management, like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

However, there are also 12-step programs for mental health conditions and for managing mental health issues. Other programs focus on helping with compulsive behaviors, like the ones seen in many eating disorders.3 

Regardless of what kind of program you join, they have a goal of community support and building behaviors and habits that help you recover and meet your goals for the future and yourself.

How And Why Do Twelve Steps Work?

A lot of people wonder how, and if, Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs work. The truth is that, while there is some debate about how 12-step programs are organized and questions about the psychology behind 12-step programs, the social support and community do have a big positive impact on participants.
Statistics differ, but overall, 12-step programs seem to be most effective for the most committed participants.4

When Do I Need A 12-Step Program?

Not everyone ever needs a 12-step program, but they can be helpful if you’re looking for support, aren’t sure how to get help, or if you need some additional support after leaving a treatment program.
If you’re considering a 12-step program, it won’t hurt to go to a few meetings to see if the program is for you. It often takes several meetings to get a good sense of how these programs work and whether they will be helpful.

Do You Have To Be Religious To Follow The 12 Steps?

You do not have to be religious to follow the 12-step program, although you may need to make it clear that you aren’t religious when you’re starting with a new group. While the 12 steps were originally very connected to religion, today’s 12-step programs are open to people of all religions, along with those who don’t practice any religion at all.
When steps call for reaching to a higher power, you don’t have to rely on God or any gods. Your higher power can be whatever works for you, and many people reach to psychology, community, or their families as their higher powers and motivations for recovery.

How Long Does It Take For The Twelve Steps To Work?

Everyone’s approach is a little different when it comes to 12-step programs. The timeline you need to recover is going to be different, and some people only need 12-step programs temporarily, while other people rely on 12-step programs their whole lives.
The news that the 12-step may be forever doesn’t mean that your addiction or condition is forever, just that you continue giving and receiving support within the community.

30-30-30 Approach to Recovery

Many sponsors recommend going to 90 meetings in 90 days. This isn’t because 90 days is the end of treatment necessary, but because of the 30-30-30 approach to recovery. In AA, this model is 30 days to get and be sober, 30 days to build new habits and patterns of behavior, and 30 days to lock in those habits so that they’re easier to maintain.
While there are a lot of different statistics and experiences out there, it’s clear that 12-step programs are a powerful tool for some people to get through recovery and stay sober.

What Are Some Alternatives To A 12-Step Program?

12-step programs aren’t for everyone, and there are effective alternatives to try if a 12-step program doesn’t seem like the right fit. These include:
  • SMART Recovery: This might be a good option for people who are more interested in an approach that focuses on self-empowerment that’s grounded in modern science and understanding of addiction and mental health. Like 12 steps, SMART Recovery is a community and offers community support for participants. 
  • Secular Organizations for Sobriety: This can be good for people who want a community and program that wasn’t originally based around faith, but that still focuses on the same kinds of addictive problems. 
  • LifeRing Secular Recovery: LifeRing is a secular organization, and their 3S’s philosophy is grounded around Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help. 
  • Moderation Management: This is a self-managed program that believes that behaviors can be changed and that you can intervene in your own drinking and lifestyle behaviors. Unlike many other programs, sobriety doesn’t have to be your goal. If you want to drink in moderation, Moderation Management supports that as a realistic and healthy end goal for participants.

What Do The 12 Steps In AA Recovery Involve?

These steps are all about accepting the reality of your condition, coming to understand the causes of your condition, righting previous wrongs through amends, and building healthier habits for sobriety and community service.

Pros Of The 12 Steps of AA

There are multiple pros that the 12 steps can offer, including:
  • People know about and often understand them
  • You have a community
  • These steps can be done at any time
  • You can revisit any of the 12 steps at any time in your recovery
  • These steps build a good framework of self-understanding and reflection.
  • Programs are free and widely available
  • These programs can help you take responsibility for your actions
  • These programs help you accept who you are, where you are in recovery, and your past

Cons Of The 12 Steps of AA

No matter how great the 12 steps can be for some people, there are also some cons to be aware of. These can include:
  • There aren’t any specific steps dealing with the physical side of addiction and dependence
  • Some groups may require a religious affiliation.
  • Many groups become confessional, which may be uncomfortable and harmful in some cases.
  • Meetings can be time-consuming.
12 Steps Of AA

Get In Touch With Ripple Ranch Recovery Now

Ripple Ranch Recovery offers a wide range of recovery approaches, including the 12-step formula and alternative modes. We’ll work closely with you to help you identify your needs, what kinds of treatment approaches are likely to be best for you, and also to identify additional support and recovery management resources even after you leave Ripple Ranch Recovery’s care.

Our rehab treatment programs include options for dual diagnosis care, treating a wide range of substance use disorders, and helping with mental health concerns.

Opportunities for Healing

Treatment success rates tend to be higher when you have access to high-quality individualized care that takes your unique situation into account. Recovery isn’t one size fits all, and treatment shouldn’t be either.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ripple Ranch Recovery, our programs, or our treatment options, please reach out to us today. We’re happy to help you or a loved one start the intake process when you’re ready.