12 Step


The 12 steps treatment program of Alcoholics Anonymous has become widely regarded as a yardstick for recovery from alcoholism, whether it be practised within the organisation of Alcoholics Anonymous, or in a rehab or treatment center.

The phrase 12 steps has become widely used, and often misinterpreted in terms of what they really mean.

This is important, because many rehabs and treatment centres often promote themselves as being 12-step based, which can mean a variety of different things.

Equally there are a number of rehabs and treatment centers that specifically promote themselves as being non-12-step based, and this has implications in terms of what they do offer as addiction treatment programs, and to what extent they are clinically-based or proven.

The original 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous can be found in its entirety in the book of the same name, and is widely available anyone to buy, borrow from their local library, or read online for free.

It should always be remembered that the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous should be taken in context of its writing.

This means that it was written along with a number of descriptive chapters as a record of experience, of what the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous found worked for them.


People are a perfect liberty to use any or all of  the 12 step program in anyway that they find helpful or not.

A number of treatment centers and rehabs use a variation of the  12 step program, but do tend to promote it as if they were offering the benefits of the program as practised within Alcoholics Anonymous.

This can be slightly misleading, and can also be  seen as taking advantage of people who are quite  vulnerable and do not fully appreciate the difference between the two approaches.

In addition, a number of  rehabs and treatment centers will be very supportive of 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and will actively encourage or insist there resident clients attend meetings of these organisations.

In this way a number of rehabs will align themselves with a 12 step recovery program.



When someone is looking for a rehab that is 12-step orientated, what they are normally looking for is a rehab that bases part of its treatment recovery program on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many rehabs that effectively advertise themselves as being 12 step rehabs do not actually follow the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but do use a certain number of the steps, although the way they are interpreted by the rehab is normally quite different to the way they are interpreted by the book Alcoholics Anonymous.

A rehab is likely to either offer what it refers to as the first five steps in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, or possibly the first three steps in this program.

There are some rehabs that describe themselves as step one rehabs, and these rehabs effectively use the concept of step one in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program as the focus for their addiction treatment work, which is likely to focus on the basics of the AA recovery approach.

There are also a significant number of people who look to a rehab that is not  12-step based. The approach that many rehabs will take is to offer a number of principles that they consider helpful, which may include different types of therapy, group and individual, as well as a number of what are referred to as alternative therapies.

These types of alternative therapies can include areas such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, art therapy, horse therapy etc.


These rehabs can certainly help people, the problem tends to be around proving the clinical effectiveness of the work they offer, which is harder to do than those rehabs that are 12-step focused, which also tend to include inclusion of current medical thinking and practice concerning addiction.

Rehab that are 12 step focused will also include a heavy commitment that clients or participants in the treatment center program attend meetings of torso fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

There is normally a requirement that people tend a minimum number of meetings a week.

This is viewed as an important part of their recovery process whilst in treatment, and a hope that it will encourage people to attend meetings and become part of  alcoholics anonymous once they leave rehab, as a major part of their after-care program.

Some rehabs also offer their own after-care program, offering ongoing support online, and with often an annual get-together at the rehab for any previous participants who are interested in attending.

12 step program

Many people are familiar with the term 12 step program, but its implications and it applications have risen considerably over the last few years in the context of people using a 12 step program to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction.

In its most basic sense a 12 step program refers to the program of recovery outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which details the experience of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous with regard to the various elements of the process they took that help them get sober and stay sober.

The 12 step program of recovery outlines 12 basic elements of this process, and the book presents clear and detailed instructions as to how to do this.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step program of recovery outlined in it became a template for other 12 step fellowships that developed on the back of it, and use the essence of the program as a basis for their own program of recovery.

12 step program

The 12 step program initiated by Alcoholics Anonymous has in effect allowed any other individual or organisation to come to terms with and get a better from any type of addiction or problem that they themselves are unable to deal with.

The first step of the program refers to alcohol in the context of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and any other organisations or individuals can use the same principles and merely substitute whatever their problem is the word alcohol in the first step.

The actual 12-step program itself is copyrighted to Alcoholics Anonymous, but any individual can use the principles of the wording of the principles for their own benefit they so wish.

The 12 step program has also been widely adapted by a large sum of rehabs and treatment centers, and often forms a basis of their own addiction treatment programs.

Many rehabs use the first five steps of the program to help people in recovery for the first 28 days or so whilst they are in rehab. It is worth pointing out that the actual work done within the context of the 12 step program is normally quite different in a rehab to the experience outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.

Where it is similar and also confusing is that a rehab ortreatment center often use the term step one, step two etc and also the actual wording of the step. The work done to understand and implement the step in an individual’s life will normally be different in a rehab to the process outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.