Twelve Steps to Alcohol Sobriety

Twelve Steps to Alcohol Sobriety

12-step programs are one of the most common forms of quitting alcohol permanently. It is a partially faith-based approach that uses the support of others to empower addicts to quit. While not for everyone, 12-step programs are popular, easy to find, free of charge, and often effective.

What Defines a 12-Step Program?

Many people entering a drug or alcohol treatment program (alcohol rehab centers) will be guided by a 12-step program. A 12-step program outlines a rehabilitation action plan and helps to define the pathway to recovery from an addiction. Such programs are peer-led by other recovering addicts who have an extended duration of sobriety. Professional leadership is not allowed and the groups are free and voluntary. The original 12-step program was created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, but it has since been modified and adapted for other addiction treatment programs including Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Debtors Anonymous.

What are the 12 Steps of AA?

The original "Twelve Steps" as published by Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. 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.

The original 12 steps are based around the process of admitting that the addiction has taken control, submitting to the idea of a higher power that can provide strength, asking forgiveness from those negatively affected by the user's addiction, making amends for all wrongdoings, and going forward with a life managed by new ethical standards.

Participants are more easily able to accomplish success through the help of their same-sex sponsor, who has had a longer period of sobriety. Sponsors act as resources and encourage members to call them as a means to avoid cravings before the member digresses and gives in to the addiction.

In addition to the members' commitment to fight their own personal addictions, the 12 steps dictate that each member should act to help support others with an addiction. Continuing attendance at group meetings, leading meetings, or becoming a sponsor once at a higher level of sobriety is a common way to accomplish this.

Do the 12 Steps Work?

A 12-step oriented rehabilitation program, when incorporated with other forms of treatment, can help to increase the chance of long-term sobriety after an addict's professional treatment has ended. The addict will also be more likely to continue attending support group meetings centered around the 12 steps once their treatment has concluded.  Our database features several alcohol addiction programs nationwide, many which use the 12 steps approach.


Alcoholics Anonymous (June 2001). "Chapter 5: How it Works" (PDF). Alcoholics Anonymous (4th edition ed.) Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

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