How 12-Step Rehab Programs Work

This entry was posted on .

When you realize you need to get help with alcohol addiction, you may be considering a rehab program to get sober. All treatment programs are different in what they offer and how they deal with each patient. For some, a 12-step rehab program is recommended to help patients get past their alcohol addiction and live a sober life.

Let’s look at how these programs work and what other treatments may need to be in place for an individual to live a sober life.

What is the 12-Step Rehab Program?

The ideas behind the 12-step program date back to 1939 when Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, started to write about the ideas that developed through his experience with alcoholism. [1] The book is often referred to as “The Big Book.” It got its name because the book’s first edition had thick pages.

Through the years, the ideas in this book became the cornerstone of many alcohol rehab programs. They are looked at as ways to help people recover from their alcohol addictions and as a guide to living a sober life.

What Are the 12 Ideas Behind the Program?

If you are considering using the 12-step program as part of your treatment, it’s important to know what they include.  Here is a list from Alcoholics Anonymous. [2]

  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 God 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. Prayed 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.

For many people, these ideas work for not only alcohol addictions but also for other substance addictions. [3] Findings on the success rate of the 12-step program are difficult to come by as many people like to remain anonymous in their treatments. Through the years, many people have found success in this type of program as it is coupled with other types of treatment.

How Does the 12-step Program Work?

One of the first things many people notice about the 12-step program is that it makes many religious references. But, you do not need to be religious to join the program. The program’s goal is to help everyone get rid of their addiction despite their spiritual beliefs.

When you take part in a 12-step program, you generally have a sponsor who sticks by you through the process and serves as your mentor.  You will attend meetings where you have the opportunity to share your story or your feelings. [4] Everyone gets a chance to speak if they choose.

If a certain step is being discussed at a meeting, the leader will talk about it. Once the meeting is over, people sometimes gather and socialize. This is a great opportunity to meet other people who are going through the same thing. It’s also a good time to start building new friendships with people on the same path. Engaging with people who are also fighting for their sobriety won’t put you in situations where you are tempted to relapse.

Using the 12-step Rehab Program with Other Treatments

While the 12-step program can be an integral part of your treatment, it must be done in conjunction with other methods. Many times, patients need to go through detox before they even begin the program. This is why going through the program with the help of a rehab center can be beneficial.

If detox is necessary, it will be done under medical supervision. Once your body is rid of the addictive substance, therapy and other treatments can begin. Some patients benefit from dual diagnosis as part of their rehab. This can help to treat underlying mental issues that may have led to the addiction.

When the 12-step program is done under the guidance of a rehab center, the patient benefits more because they are getting help for all of the causes leading up to their addiction. They can have a better chance of leading a sober life.

Contact Us and Start 12-Step Rehab Now

At Ocean Hills Recovery, we incorporate the ideas of the 12-step program with other treatment methods. Therapy, medical, psychological, and spiritual approaches help to guide patients through their program. All of these methods and custom programming help our patients see the reasons behind their addictions and learn how to avoid triggers and certain situations that can fuel them.

We customize each program unique to each patient. Since each person’s addiction is different, their path to recovery needs to be different as well. Patients learn to not only get past their addiction but how to live a sober life without relapsing.

To get more information on our program, contact us online. Let us show you how to eliminate the substance addiction in your life and start living the sober life you deserve.


[1] Alcoholics Anonymous: A.A.’s Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions  Now Available in eBook Format,

[2] SMF-121_en – The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (,

[3] The 12 Steps of Recovery Programs (,

[4] Going to Your First 12-Step Meeting (,

About the author: