12 Step Programs

Twelve-step programs have contributed to the recoveries of millions of addicts worldwide. The first 12-step program ever was Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which was started by Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. The two men devised a program that encouraged addiction recovery through the working of the steps, and the subsequent helping of other addicts by those in recovery. Since writing those twelve steps in the Big Book, they have been adapted to work for other forms of addiction. For instance, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) uses a twelve-step program that is almost identical to that of AA. Other modified programs include those for sexual, nicotine and gambling addictions.

When working a 12 step program, the steps must be done in order. The first step in any program is for the addict to admit that they have a problem and that they are powerless over it. The second step is to believe in a higher power which can bring back sanity. The third step is for the addict to turn their problem over to that higher power. The higher power doesn’t have to mean belief in God; therefore, agnostics and atheists can use a twelve-step program without embracing organized religion. The level of religiosity attached to that higher power varies from one group to another. Some groups are religion-based, and end meetings with a prayer, while others skip it. Almost all meetings end with hand-holding and fellowship. Step four is perhaps the hardest; the addict must take a moral inventory of themselves- recognizing bad behaviors, faults and patterns that encourage substance use. This step is usually guided by sponsors. Step five expands on the moral inventory; the addict has to admit their faults, confess them to their higher power and to another person (usually the sponsor). Step six is to tell the higher power that the addict is ready, and step seven has the addict asking the higher power to take away their faults. Steps eight and nine have the addict asking for forgiveness from those they’ve wronged, and to offer restitution. Steps ten and eleven continue the moral inventory and the connection to a higher power. The final step is where the recovering addict tries to help other addicts.

People in twelve-step programs continue to work them for a lifetime; some recover enough to only go to the occasional meeting, and others attend more often. Study groups are typically offered for each of the twelve steps, and there are also books that go into more detail. Working the program is a very intense process, but it is very effective and has helped addicts all over the world.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)  (alcoholics-anonymous.org)
A twelve-step program for people in recovery from alcohol abuse. The site provides an online list of central offices and groups in the U.S. and Canada, meeting contact information, a description of the 12-steps and traditions, a listing of AA literature and a bulletin board.
Some drug addicts prefer AA to NA or CA.

Alcoholics Anonymous: 12 Step Programs for the Deaf
Lists TTY equipped 12 Step offices available and other AA offices that rely on relay service for interaction with the Deaf. Information about ASL-interpreted AA meetings can usually be provided by local AA central or intergroup offices listed in the phone book. If there is no local AA office, the Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office keeps an updated list of over 580 United States and
Canadian AA central offices.

All Addictions Anonymous  (alladdictionsanonymous.com)
All Addictions Anonymous focuses solely on the 12 step program and how to work the steps. They allow only brief personal sharing about “war stories” in order to illustrate patterns of addiction and do not explore psychological issues. The program connects suffering addicts to recovered addicts who guide newcomers through a personalized one- on-one study of the original 12 step program described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The program is open to people with any addiction. Go to the Contact Us section and leave a confidential message on their 24 hour pager: 416-468-8603 or send an email. You will be contacted and connected with someone in your area or arrangements will be made to get you help by phone.

Big Book Sponsorship  (bigbooksponsorship.org)
The purpose of this site is to show people recovering from all addictions precisely how to recover using the Big Book of A.A. It provides information about the original A.A. Program that produced recovery rates that were 50-75% successful and information resources on who, where, why, what and how to use the Big Book and its methodology for facilitating spiritual experiences that enable the addict to recover. The site helps connect people with Big Book sponsors who practice the original program format.

Cocaine Anonymous (CA)  (ca.org)
This twelve-step program is for people in recovery from cocaine and other drugs. The site describes the twelve-steps and traditions and provides a self-test, a meeting starter kit and CA literature. Under “Local Phones & Links”, referral phone numbers are listed by state in the US, with contact numbers provided for Canada, the UK and the Netherlands as well. To participate in online meetings click on “Online, all locations” at the end of the referral list.

CrystalMeth Anonymous (CMA)  (crystalmeth.org)
This twelve-step program is for people in recovery from crystalmeth amphetamine and other related drugs. Based on the twelve-step model, the web site includes basic information on the CMA fellowship, the Twelve Traditions, CMA meeting schedules and information on how to start a meeting.

Marijuana Anonymous World Services  (marijuana-anonymous.org)
Marijuana Anonymous uses the basic 12-step recovery program founded by Alcoholics Anonymous.  Their web site covers the 12-steps and the 12-traditions, online pamphlets on various aspects of marijuana addiction, a meeting directory by geographic area and a list of online meetings.

Methadone Anonymous Support  (MethadoneSupport.org)
A twelve-step program for people using methadone in recovery from opiate addiction. The site provides an online meeting locator by state, methadone discussion lists, online meetings, a Methadone News section, a description of the 12-steps and traditions, and information on HIV, Hepatitis C and buprenorphine.

Narcotics Anonymous World Services (NA)  (na.org)
This twelve-step recovery program from addiction to drugs is based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model. The site provides basic information on the program and NA literature. Find a Meeting and Local Phone lines and Websites to locate find registered NA meetings in the US and 35 countries worldwide.

Nicotine Anonymous  (nicotine-anonymous.org)
Nicotine Anonymous is a 12-step fellowship program based on the recovery program of  Alcoholics Anonymous.   Their web site has a meeting locator by state or country and online information in English and five other languages.

Pills Anonymous  (pillsanonymous.com)
This web site is geared to the needs of those recovering from prescription drug addiction. It discusses the 12 steps traditions, sample stories and a meeting locator.

Recoveries Anonymous  (r-a.org)
Recoveries Anonymous (RA) is a recovery fellowship that uses the 12 steps for a “Solution Focused Program of Recovery.” It welcomes anyone with any kind of problem or self-destructive behavior including family and friends and those who are looking for spiritual growth. The goal of RA is to “restore one’s sanity”, not simply to remain abstinent. Their web site provides background information on their approach as well as a meeting locator and information on how to start a group. Free online recovery guides are available and downloadable PDF versions of RA’s solution focused books (small contribution is requested).

Recovery Zone  (recoveryzone.org)
This site on 12 step recovery presents both the complete audio version (in streaming audio) and text version of the original book “Alcoholics Anonymous” book written in 1939, the basis of all the 12-step programs.

The Spiritual River  (spiritualriver.com)
This web site is based on the 12 step model of recovery. It is very clearly written, encouraging, and covers the basic issues related to choosing and maintaining recovery. The section dedicated to exploring spirituality addresses the role of religion and philosophy in the recovery process.


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