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Frequently Asked Questions about 12-Step Recovery Programs

A 12-Step program is often used in addiction recovery to offer support and fellowship.1 Originally started through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 12-step programs help people remain abstinent from substance use while gaining strength by applying each principle during each stage of their recovery journey.2 This page will help you understand the fundamentals of 12-step programs and ways to participate.

What are 12-Step Recovery Programs?

You might be wondering, what exactly are 12-step recovery programs? A 12-step program is a support group where people share their experiences to help each other fight alcohol or drug addiction and maintain sobriety.1 Many addiction treatment programs use support groups that implement the 12-step method as part of their treatment philosophy.

Support groups are an essential part of addiction treatment aftercare programs, especially for people struggling with co-occurring disorders and addiction.1 A co-occurring disorder happens when a person struggles with addiction along with a mental illness such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD.1 These programs can help you regain control over your life and promote long-term recovery.

What are the 12 Steps of Recovery?

The 12 Steps of Recovery are the core principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Big Book outlines them as:3

  1. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction.
  2. Believing that a higher power (of any kind) can help.
  3. Turning control over to a higher power.
  4. Taking a personal inventory.
  5. Admitting to the higher power, yourself, and another person the wrongs you’ve done.
  6. Letting the higher power correct any faults in your character.
  7. Asking the higher power to remove those faults.
  8. Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs.
  9. Contacting those who have been hurt unless doing so would harm the person.
  10. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when you’re wrong.
  11. Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation.
  12. Sharing the message of the 12 steps with others in need.

What is a Sponsor in a 12-Step Program?

Your sponsor in a 12-step program is someone who offers support while holding you accountable throughout your recovery journey.4 Sponsors are senior members who have typically been in recovery for over a year. Your sponsor is a helping hand that understands where you’ve been. You can lean on them to encourage you through difficult times and answer any of your questions.

What are the Different Types of 12-Step Programs?

AA’s 12-step program is the most well-known, used to address and treat an addiction to alcohol with peer group support. But the 12-step method has been adapted to treat other substance use issues, like narcotic addiction, following the same basic principles of recovery.

Finding a program that works best for you is always a top priority. In addition to AA, some other common 12-Step programs include:1

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA).
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA).
  • Heroin Anonymous (HA).
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA).
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • Dual Diagnosis Anonymous (DDA).

What Should I Expect in a 12-Step Meeting?

When you attend a 12sStep meeting, you should expect to feel comfortable and supported. Support groups for addiction offer a space to share your experience with others focused on remaining sober. You can connect with people in recovery, hold each other accountable in hard times, and celebrate wins together.

You may feel challenged as you work through the 12 stages of recovery, but you can move at your own pace while being encouraged by your sponsor and peers.

Are All 12-Step Programs Religious?

All 12-step programs aren’t religious, even AA, which was originally developed from a religious philosophy. Some programs ask you to accept powerlessness over your addiction and place it in the hands of a higher power, but that higher power doesn’t have to mean a religious power.5 It more so means something you value highly. Your higher power could be spiritual, religious, or anything in which you have faith.

Get Help Finding a 12-Step Program Near You

A 12-step program can help you remain sober while forming a community of like-minded people to offer mutual support. Finding a 12-Step program near you is simple, and many are offered through inpatient addiction treatment and outpatient programs. Give us a call at to speak with one of our admissions navigators, who can help you discover 12-step programs and health insurance coverage for addiction treatment.

You can also easily and quickly check if your insurance is in-network by filling out the form below.

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