12 Step Programs are Free

12 Step Recovery

Since the 1930’s, some choose the twelve step model of recovery.
The 12 steps work in lives of addicts and alcoholics.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction
is a Serious Problem

At times, rehab is critical to those in the lowest levels of active addiction because detoxing can be dangerous. There are also alternatives that provide a different view, many get clean, get sober without rehab. Many are introduced to the 12 step recovery in rehab and some attend after after treatment or rehab.

Alcohol and Drug addiction is a serious problem for many people. Everybody has their own view on what addiction means but self care is important. There are guides to help people determine if they have developed a substance addiction to alcohol or another drug. Once a person has questions or cares to view their possible addiction issues in a new light the decision may come to seek help in a 12 step recovery program or to seek treatment or rehab.

Each individual has their own levels of what is acceptable. Having people who care about your health can be an important first step in recovery or you may find on your own through education that your health is suffering from untreated addiction (active addiction).

Sometimes our levels of awareness affect our view and it can be difficult to see how much others care or if we care for ourselves; self care is as important as how others care about us. Regardless of the levels of concern that brought the problem into view, once you decide to care for your health and seek help, where that help comes from is the next step in the recovery process from addiction.

Unfortunately, some individuals no longer view recovery as an option and no longer care about their fate. The lowest levels of addiction are populated with complete hopelessness.

For some individuals addiction has dominated their lives to the point where they find themselves in a facility or with a professional, some by choice, some by law or other circumstance. In such a place, they may be introduced to a 12 step program.

Sober Living Home | 12 Step Recovery

A sober living house

Rehabilitation Center | 12 Step Recovery

Rehabilitation center

woman wearing white T-shirt smiling

Drug treatment center

Outpatient Program | 12 Step Recovery

Outpatient Program

Rehab is NOT a 12 Step Program

Across the US, in America, and around the world there are centers specializing in addiction services with many levels of care available. Once we view treatment or rehab as an option, the individual needs to proceed with care. Some may choose to go to;

  • Institutions like prisons and mental hospitals may be a person’s first exposure 12 step recovery as an alternative to their current lifestyle.
  • Families may view a loved one’s addiction as a problem, and want them to go to AA or NA because they care.
  • Simply quitting could be dangerous as physical dependence has become so ingrained that the body will die without the substance, many seek medical help, many find themselves in a 12 step meeting.
person stepping on blue stairs
four women looking down

Twelve Step Meetings are Anonymous for all People

Some programs view treatment of addictions with the idea of anonymity being critical. An anonymous fellowship benefits the individual because they can attend and know that other members care about their right to privacy. On many levels, as we view our addiction in a new way and even try new methods of living, everyone can benefit. The anonymous program also benefits from anonymity by not being identified by the opinions or behaviors of other members. The public view matters to those in the program who care about perception if the goal is to attract newcomers. Newcomers is a term used for people new to a 12 step meeting and with new recovery under their belt.

The Journey Starts With One Step

Each step in the twelve step process is designed to build on the results of the previous steps. Many of our ideas are so entrenched that they are like granite in our minds and the steps are although they may be introduced in a meeting or a treatment center, are owned by the fellowship and originated in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). There really is no school for how to change ourselves but the steps offer an alternative approach. Rather than saying ‘You have a problem with drugs, do this’, each step is designed to give you a new view on one aspect of the disease of addiction. We define our own treatment on the success of other members’ experiences and determine our own levels of recovery. This is different from a treatment facility  or drug rehab where everyone generally follows a prescribed model, delivered under clinical guidance.

Across America, and around the world, members of 12 step programs are living each day, progressing through the steps and having a new view on life without drugs or alcohol. The twelve steps are offered as a part of recovery programs. For many advocates of treatment for addiction, the steps become a way of life, not treatment. 

12 Step Models Refer to Communities

Addiction treatment across the US has unfortunately been separated from the health care system because it was seen as a social or criminal issue and not a health issue. This view is no longer popular and treatment options are evolving rapidly. Even mental health has been isolated to some extent from regular health care but that view is also changing. Treating a disease or broken bone was perceived as different than the appearance of depression, anxiety disorders or individuals who experienced a substance abuse disorder(addiction). Society is changing and addiction is now classified as a mental health disorder within many countries but levels of support vary.

Diagnosis can also be difficult as some do not view their lifestyle as a problem. A professional may have a vision that is different than your own, and suggest you need to consider care for your health and to look at your substance use. Once a person begins to view things in a different way, with increasing levels of awareness, then the door is open to change.

Rehab can become a revolving door for some who are caught in addiction. Drug rehab may offer a short term solution, but not meet all the requirements for a successful treatment.

Treatment has many different levels of intervention depending on the needs of the individual. Rehab may be a necessary option if physical dependence or addiction to certain drugs is evident. Withdrawal can have an adverse effect on health on so many levels and even cause death when use of the substance is terminated. A common view of professionals is that rehab is critical in cases where physical dependence is evident. Sometimes the levels of care available depends on funding or the individuals financial ability to pay if the facility is private.

Education often plays an important part in a drug rehab center or other treatment programs where someone suffering from addiction might find people who care about them for the first time.

How we view ourselves and how others view us can benefit those in treatment or rehab centers. Sometimes a professional view is required to assist with ridding the body of the alcohol or drugs and restoring physical health. We may need to look at treatment as more than physical care, but also mental health care and even spiritual care for some. Each view can have different levels.

Health care systems may require different levels of treatment with drug rehab being critical for the care of those in the worst stages. Each will have a process that they follow and many new centers open with a new idea on how to help the individual. For some, treatment is an option but for them treatment eventually comes to an end. Some may return to treatment repeatedly either by identifying old patterns of behavior or a return to drug or alcohol use. Each time, an individual has the opportunity to achieve new levels of awareness. Treatment may have laid the foundation of a new view on life but for others they see continued support is needed.

Leaving the rehab center and returning to your house might require ongoing care and different levels of support as we progress through your life. One option is outpatient treatment. Outpatient is available in many communities and gives the individual the ability to live at home, perhaps return to work, but still maintain contact with a professional involved in their treatment. Some view sober living houses as a treatment option between active addiction and a return to normal life. All of these treatment options and rehab choices provide a view on what recovery can look like. There are so many different levels of recovery to consider but personal care should be important in any treatment plan.

The 12 Step Community

The 12 step community is a wonderful place to live life with like minded people. Understanding the recovery process and talking with people who understand exactly where you have been, what you feel, and have maintained success offers the feeling of community. 

Facing alcoholism and addiction takes courage and there are many approaches one can choose, however, the largest group remains the 12 steppers of AA, NA, CA, and CMA.

many family members have learned how to live with their recovering person or still using person by applying the 12 steps to their lives. Attending AlAnon is very helpful.

For those who lived in alcoholic homes growing up there is also a wonderful recovery group called ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics.

The Twelve Step Programs

All 12 step programs are modelled off the original 12 step process developed to treat alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous(AA).

What are the 12 steps in the Big Book of AA?

Alcoholics Anonymous published a book called The Big Book of AA and it contained the original version of the steps that has become the base for other programs. 12 Steps of AA.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

What is the 12th step in AA?

Every program that has adapted the original model developed by AA adheres to the idea that as a group they try to help others who identify. Often participants view themselves as a fellowship who care about each other and care about the suffering members who have not found recovery. They do not require professionals and are peer-based which is different from what a treatment center or rehab might prescribe. The steps are an education in learning a new way of enjoying life by practising spiritual principles.

What are the Spiritual Principles?

Originally developed in America, the AA concept of treatment spread to other countries and allowed other individuals to adapt the program to new methods. By following the twelve step process, members learn about spiritual principles.

  • HONESTY – Fairness and straightforwardness of conduct: adherence to the facts.
  • HOPE – To expect with desire; something on which hopes are centered.
  • FAITH – Complete confidence; belief and trust.
  • COURAGE – Firmness of mind and will in the face of extreme difficulty; mental or moral strength to withstand fear.
  • INTEGRITY – The quality or state of being complete or undivided; soundness.
  • WILLINGNESS – Prompt to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or without reluctance.
  • HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire to become what we can be.
  • LOVE – Unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good to hold dear.
  • DISCIPLINE – Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; to bring under control; to train or develop by instruction.
  • PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE – Steadfast despite opposition or adversity; able or willing to bear; to persist in an understanding in spite of counter influences.
  • AWARENESS – Alive and alert; vigilance in observing.
  • SERVICE – A helpful act; contribution to the welfare of others; useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity.

12 step recovery is almost like an outpatient program where members show up to meetings on a regular basis to support each other and strive to carry the message to new members. The difference would be that an outpatient often has access to professionals. Some members never care to attend treatment or participate in rehab. There are so many different levels of care available in these fellowships depending on where you are. Each member has a unique view and experiences care differently.

Here is a list of anonymous programs designed to specifically treat drug or alcohol addiction, that do not require treatment or rehab and you are not an outpatient. These groups depend on the application of the twelve traditions to maintain unity within the Fellowship; Treatment or rehab do not adhere to the twelve traditions but might adopt the twelve steps in their modality.

NA logo 12 step recovery

Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous (NA), founded in 1953 in the US, describes itself as a “nonprofit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem”. Narcotics Anonymous uses a 12-step model developed for people with varied substance use disorders and is the second-largest 12-step organization. NA is an abstinence based program but members are only required to have a desire to stop using. NA is not a treatment or rehab and members attend support meetings regularly. By participating we are able to experience a different view from people who care and have hope.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid fellowship with the stated purpose of enabling its members to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.” AA is nonprofessional, self-supporting, and apolitical. The only membership requirement is a desire to stop drinking. AA is not a treatment center or rehab but like other 12 step programs, offers meetings regularly. It started in the US and was the original source of the twelve steps process. Members who care about newcomers to the program will offer a view of the program that helped them.
aa logo 12 step recovery
al-anon 12 step recovery


Al-Anon Family Groups, founded in 1951, is a “worldwide fellowship that offers a program of recovery for the families and friends of alcoholics, whether or not the alcoholic recognizes the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help.” Alateen “is part of the Al-Anon fellowship designed for the younger relatives and friends of alcoholics through the teen years”.

Cocaine Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous (CA) is a twelve-step program formed in 1982 in the US and is for people who seek recovery from drug addiction. It is patterned very closely after Alcoholics Anonymous, although the two groups are unaffiliated. While many CA members have been addicted to cocaine, crack, speed or similar substances, identifying specifically as a cocaine addict is not required. CA has no treatment centers or rehab but offers peer-based support meetings on a regular basis.
cocaine anonymous 12 step recovery
Crystal Meth Anonymous 12 step recovery

Crystal Meth Anonymous

Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) is a California-based US non-profit, public-benefit corporation founded in 1994 working as a twelve-step program of recovered and recovering crystal meth addicts. Participants in local groups meet in order to help others recover from methamphetamine addiction. CMA is not a treatment program or rehab, but instead offers peer-based support. CMA advocates complete abstinence from methamphetamine, alcohol, inhalants, and all other psychoactive drugs not taken as prescribed.

Adult Children of Alcoholics

Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA) founded circa 1973 is an organization intended to provide a forum for individuals who desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family. ACA membership has few formal requirements. This program was originally started in the US but has grown to an international fellowship. Drug rehab is not really an option but ACOA members may suffer from their own substance abuse disorders.
acoa 12 step recovery

12 Step Alternatives

Moderation Management 12 step recovery

Moderation Management

Moderation Management (MM) is a secular non-profit organization providing peer-run support groups for anyone who would like to reduce their alcohol consumption. MM was founded in 1994 to create an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and similar addiction recovery groups for non-dependent problem drinkers who do not necessarily want to stop drinking, but moderate their amount of alcohol consumed to reduce its detrimental consequences.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is an international non-profit organization that provides assistance to individuals seeking abstinence from addiction. SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. The SMART approach is secular and science-based, using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and non-confrontational motivational methods.

smart recovery 12 step recovery
Secular Organization for Sobriety 12 step recovery

Secular Organizations for Sobriety

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS), also known as Save Our Selves, is a non-profit network of autonomous addiction recovery groups. The program stresses the need to place the highest priority on sobriety and uses mutual support to assist members in achieving this goal. The Suggested Guidelines for Sobriety emphasize rational decision-making and are not religious or spiritual in nature. SOS represents an alternative to the spiritually based addiction recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). SOS members may also attend AA meetings, but SOS does not view spirituality or surrendering to a Higher Power as being necessary to maintain abstinence.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety (WFS) is a non-profit secular addiction recovery group for women with addiction problems. WFS was created by sociologist Jean Kirkpatrick in 1976 as an alternative to twelve-step addiction recovery groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). As of 1998 there were more than 200 WFS groups worldwide. Only women are allowed to attend the organization’s meetings as the groups focus specifically on women’s issues. WFS is not a radical feminist, anti-male, or anti-AA organization.
Women for Sobriety 12 step recovery
Lifering 12 step recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery

LifeRing Secular Recovery (LifeRing or LSR) is a secular, non-profit organization providing peer-run addiction recovery groups. The organization provides support and assistance to people seeking to recover from alcohol and drug addiction, and also assists partners, family members and friends of addicts or alcoholics. It is an abstinence-based recovery program with three fundamental principles: sobriety, secularity and self-empowerment. The motto of LifeRing is “empower your sober self.”

12 Step Recovery

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