All You Ever Wanted to Know About 12-Step Addiction Treatment

You are ready to turn over a new leaf and begin a life free of addiction to drugs or alcohol.

You know you have a hard road ahead of you, but you are ready to put in the effort.

As a part of your research, you keep discovering the term 12-step addiction treatment.

Of course, you have heard of this, but you never participated.

So now you want to know.

What is a 12-step addiction treatment group, exactly?

We will explain the primary ins and outs of how to put the 12-step model for substance abuse treatment to work in your recovery.

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What is a 12-Step Program?

The first question we will examine is: What is a 12-step rehab program?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that 12-step rehab is a group therapy that provides participants with social support needed during recovery.

During your session, you will engage in discussions with other people who struggle with addiction.

The goal is to reshape your life from one of addiction into a drug- and alcohol-free lifestyle.

These programs serve as additional support and meld well with other addiction treatment programs.

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The Different 12-Step Programs

There are various 12-step programs geared toward different substances. Some of these include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Heroin Anonymous (HA)
  • Pills Anonymous (PA)
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA)

The list of 12-step programming available is almost endless.

Today, these effective and widely-available programs even cover non-drug-related addictions, such as overeating, gambling, and other compulsive behaviors.

What are the Benefits of Attending 12-Step Rehab During Recovery?

Here are a few of the main benefits of joining a 12-step group to supplement your inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment.

12 step addiction treatment pathfinders - A man sits in a group smiling at the 3 women and the other man in the group. They are meeting as part of their 12 step addiction treatment group therapy session.

Benefit #1 – The High Success Rates of 12-Step Rehab Programs

First, study results published in March of 2020 concur that Alcoholics Anonymous participants maintain high success rates.

They learn in the program how to rebuild familial relationships and friendships damaged by binge drinking. Thus, they regain the support needed to maintain sobriety for the long haul.

Furthermore, the group of peers helps each other stay on track with candid, no-holds-barred, and excuse-free workshop settings. Accountability is a must for success.

Benefit #2 – It is Free to Participate in 12-Step Addiction Treatment

Individuals who are starting anew after an addiction treatment program are starting from scratch. Funds are limited.

However, 12-step programs are free and run from donations. If you can afford to donate, feel free. But if you cannot, the moderators will still welcome you with open arms.

Benefit #3 – You Have a Sponsor to Keep You on Track

Each 12-step member has a sponsor—a person who got sober and maintained sobriety for a minimum of five years.

This person is not a counselor. Instead, this is a peer who faced your struggles first-hand and overcame addiction.

This person will hold you accountable for your choices, and they serve as a go-to resource if you feel you need extra support.

Benefit #4 – What Happens at 12-Step Stays at 12-Step

While a 12-step program’s confidentiality is not legally binding under HIPPA, those who participate form a kinship.

As such, you will start to consider 12-step groups as a safe place where you can openly discuss your struggles.

Benefit #5 – You Build More Life Skills

As you rise in the steps throughout the program, you will continue to build on the skills you learned in alcohol or drug rehabilitation. Like everything in life, you need to practice to get better.

Benefit #6 – You Find 12-Step Addiction Treatment Groups Around the Nation

The breadth of 12-step programs is vast. No matter where life takes you, you will likely be able to find a 12-step addiction treatment group.

From the largest American cities to the smallest rural towns, you encounter communities supporting each other in the quest for sobriety.

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What Are the 12-Steps of Rehab?

You might also want to know–what are the 12-steps of rehab?

That makes perfect sense, as you will feel reassured that attending a 12-step addiction treatment meeting is the right move for you. Take a look at the journey.

While the steps are specific to the type of addiction addressed, here we paraphrase the 12-steps of the recovery process as outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The 12-Steps of Addiction Treatment:

One: One must admit that they do not have power over alcohol or drugs. Indeed, they made our lives unmanageable.

Two: Believe that a Higher Power can help return us to a safe and sober place in life.

Three: Allow a Higher Power to do their will and entrust them to care for us.

Four: Look into our lives and must take a moral inventory of our behaviors and our very selves.

Five: Admit the error of our actions to ourselves, to others around us, and, most importantly, to our Higher Power.

Six: Humble ourselves to the Higher Power so that they can free us of our character defects.

Seven: Ask, humbly, that our Higher Power release us from the bonds of addiction.

Eight: List all fellow humans who we have harmed and prepare to correct those wrongs.

Nine: Make amends to any people whom we have wronged when it is possible to do so safely.

Ten: Check in with ourselves for honest self-assessment. We continue to take that personal moral inventory.

Eleven: We pray to the Higher Power for guidance on how to carry out their will for our lives.

Twelve: We commit to continue to practice these steps, remain free of drugs or alcohol.

Furthermore, we spread this program to others who struggle with addictions. Pay it forward.

While this program speaks to God or a Higher Power, it is non-denominational. It offers support for people of all religious backgrounds and beliefs.

12 step addiction treatment pathfinders - A close up photo of hands of people joined together in a group meeting in prayer. During this 12 step addiction meeting the group is studying the bible.

What is the Difference Between 12-Step and 12-Step Friendly?

As your online research of the 12-step addiction treatment program model continues, you might encounter the term “12-step friendly.”

These programs are similar to the 12-step model. They are peer groups providing support to each other. The framework of their program is remarkably similar.

However, they choose to eliminate the Higher Power or God references. Thus, they are similar—or 12-step friendly—loosely based on the traditional 12-step.

In some cases, they might be less intimidating to someone who may not believe in a Higher Power.

How 12-Step Addiction Treatment Makes a Difference

The bottom line is that 12-step addiction treatment makes a difference in the lives of those who struggle with various addictions.

The model makes sense. Perhaps more so once you realize the motivation behind the 12-step model. You see, the very founders of the program, gentlemen named Bill Wilson and “Dr. Bob” Smith, were alcoholics.

After meeting in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 and becoming friends, they began supporting each other in their quest for a sober lifestyle.

They learned firsthand that by leaning on each other for help, they were each able to quit drinking—despite previous failed attempts. By 1939, they shared their model with others who struggled with alcohol abuse and started the movement.

Joining a 12-step addiction treatment program works well for so many. And we are confident it can make a positive impact on your recovery, too.

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12-Step Addiction Treatment at Pathfinders

We offer 12-step addiction treatment along with our evidence-based treatment methods.

Call our specialists who can verify your insurance and start the admissions process to determine what level of treatment you need.

We are here to help 24-hours a day, seven days a week — including holidays.


  • 7580 E Gray Rd Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • (877) 224-0761
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