12-Step Interventions and Spiritual Support Programs' effectiveness

History of the Twelve-step program

Developed in the 1930s, the first twelve-step program, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), aided its membership to overcome alcoholism. Since that time dozens of other organizations have been derived from AA's approach to address problems as varied as drug addiction, compulsive gambling, sex, and overeating. All twelve-step programs utilize a version of AA's suggested twelve steps first published in the 1939 book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism.

Twelve-step program in a nutshell

The following are the original twelve steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. Taking the First Step towards Recovery from Addiction: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. The Second Step is a Spiritual One: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Turning yourself Over: Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
  4. The Moral Inventory: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitting your Wrongs: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Preparation for Forgiveness: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Forgiveness for our Addictions: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. The Dreaded 12 Steps List: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Fulfilling that List: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continuous Realignment: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Involves Prayer and Meditation: 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. Spiritual awakening: 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.

Where other twelve-step groups have adapted the AA steps as guiding principles, step one is generally updated to reflect the focus of recovery.

The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.

12 steps simplified: Drug and Alcohol Addiction, Eating Addictions, Sex & Love Addictions, Gamblers Anonymous, history of 12 step program & testimony

Process of Twelve-step program

In the twelve-step program, the human structure is represented in three dimensions: physical, mental, and spiritual. The problems the groups deal with are understood to manifest themselves in each dimension. For addicts and alcoholics, the physical dimension is best described by the allergy-like bodily reaction resulting in the compulsion to continue using substances even when it's harmful or wanting to quit.

Although the 12 Steps are based on spiritual principles, many nonreligious people have found the program immensely helpful.

Success Statistics of Twelve-step program

AA’s Big Book claims an impressive 50% success rate (with 25% remaining sober after some relapses), but this has been, understandably, viewed with skepticism by the scientific community as the statistics were provided by the AA themselves.

Thankfully, there has been a rise in impartial scientific research surrounding the topic of addiction and recovery in recent years, and much of it is positive (if cautious) when it comes to AA.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, or SLAA, is a Twelve Step, Twelve Tradition oriented Fellowship based on the model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. SLAA is open to anyone who knows or thinks they have a problem with sex addiction, love addiction, romantic obsession, co-dependent relationships, fantasy addiction and/or sexual, social, and emotional anorexia. 

Testimonials for Twelve-step program

I learnt a lot very quickly, dispelling many long-held pre-conceptions about therapy, recovery, and the 12-step program.

12 Step recovery program – impressing on everyone that it is the meetings relevant to your addiction (AA, NA, GA, OA, SLAA etc) that keep people clean and sober for the long term. Begrudgingly, I filled in the meeting sheets and got myself a service position at a meeting and a 12 Step sponsor, as well as completing Steps 1 – 4 – but I am so glad I was made to do this, as I now realize that we cannot combat our difficulties alone. 


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