What is a 12-Step Rehab?

Back in the early 1930’s, a New York stockbroker was struggling with his alcoholism. Prior to his rock bottom, he had entered into college and had met the love of his life, Lois, whom he became engaged to. Shortly after that, his depression and anxiety became so immobilizing that he had to cut his first year of college short. The next year, he decided to come back, however began facing several consequences, specifically being suspended from the university for a hazing incident.

Fast forward a few years later, when he began serving in the Vermont National Guard. During his training, he was invited to a handful of dinners where alcohol was being served. There, he had his first drink, and eventually become a full-blown alcoholic.

This same man eventually crossed paths with a surgeon out in Akron, Ohio, who was also struggling with alcoholism. By 1935, the two had developed what would eventually become known as one of the most prevalent support groups in the world.

His name was Bill W., and he developed Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which is now the life source behind 12-Step rehabs worldwide.

What is a 12-Step Rehab?

The 12-Step program is one that is included within countless treatment centers. In fact, it is reported that 12-Step programming is provided at roughly 74% of all treatment centers nationwide. Through this method, recovering addicts and alcoholics can utilize 12 separate steps to maintain sobriety through the support and encouragement of one another.

Someone who is participating in a 12-Step rehab can expect to attend several sessions (at least one per day) with others in the treatment center. There, they will work and apply the steps to their recovery. The steps include the following:


  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 a 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

Upon reading the 12-Steps for the first time, common impressions are that of fear and anxiety, as attempting to do all of these things can be overwhelming, or that these steps appear simple and should be no problem for the recovering user to apply to his or her life. No matter what the first impressions are, almost all individuals who participate in a 12-Step rehab find that there are challenges and successes while working the steps.

What Does a 12-Step Meeting Look Like?

When in rehab, 12-Step meetings are often strikingly similar to those that are held outside of the facility and within the community. Typically very simple in terms of environment, most meetings will be held in a conference room or other type of closed space where there can be privacy. Local 12-Step meetings are often held at churches. There, those participating in the meeting will gather together and sit and read through the 12-Steps themselves.

In most 12-step rehab programs, meetings are held in a manner where all involved can speak if they want to. Some meetings might have group members share insight, stories, etc. while going around in a circle, while others might be volunteer-based. During the meeting, however, a general topic is usually picked and those in the meeting can expand on that topic or change it based on their needs at the time.

When attending a 12-Step meeting, know that it is a safe place that ensures that what you say there will stay there. These meetings can serve as therapy for you and others, both while in treatment and when out of it.

support group hugging

Benefits of 12-Step Rehab

When you attend a 12-Step rehab, you are going to get out of it what you give to it. If you remain diligent in your program, you can yield several benefits, such as the following:

  • Support – Through 12-Step meetings, you will meet and connect with others who share in similar challenges that you do. By talking amongst and interacting with these people, you will gain support from a close-knit community. And, you will also be able to provide support in return.
  • Free therapy – To put it very simply, 12-Step meetings (when attended outside of rehab) are free. This resource, which has proven to be highly effective in helping individuals maintain sobriety for the long-term, is just as beneficial as attending individual or group therapy sessions, however does not charge anything at all. This means that you can go as frequently as you would like without fearing a big therapy bill.
  • Skills – Throughout your addiction recovery, you will obtain several different skills that help you maintain your sobriety and manage your emotional wellbeing. Attending a 12-Step rehab can provide you with another resource for skills building, as listening to others experience recovery can help you apply new methods of recovery to your life.

Getting Help

No matter how addicted you are to drugs and/or alcohol, getting help is always considered the best thing that you can do for yourself. If you are intrigued by the 12-Step methodology, seeking out a treatment center that meets your needs and provides this type of therapy can be an excellent starting point for you.

Here, we are deeply rooted in 12-Step therapy and utilize it in the treatment of all of our clients. Plus, we encourage continued participation in this program after leaving rehab. Continuing to do things that increase your odds of remaining sober will undoubtedly keep you on the right path forward.

Do not wait any longer. Contact us right now to get the help you deserve.

The Addiction Blog