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Addiction recovery can be difficult, but thankfully there are support groups out there that can help you along your recovery journey.

Arguably, the most prominent support group for people recovering from alcohol addiction is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

But what exactly is Alcoholics Anonymous, and what are the 12 steps to recovery? That’s what we’ll be exploring on this page.

Read on to learn more about AA – specifically the 12-step rehab program. On this page, we’ll be exploring the exact nature of the 12 steps, and whether AA actually helps those in alcohol addiction recovery.

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group – people attend AA meetings to address, explore, and overcome their problems with Alcohol.

If you have a drug addiction, you may attend Narcotics Anonymous – or if you have a gambling addiction, you may attend Gamblers Anonymous.

AA involves professionally-led groups. The group is hugely popular, with more than two million members around the world. Founded in 1935, AA is designed to help people with alcohol use disorder.

Unlike many other support groups, AA encourages life without alcohol – complete sobriety. It offers an anonymous and safe space for people to share their problems, and you are actively encouraged to listen to other members’ stories.

There are no age restrictions for AA – and it doesn’t cost anything. However, you may give donations to the cause.

It’s for anybody that wishes to overcome their addiction to alcohol or gain control over their harmful drinking habits (e.g alcohol abuse or binge drinking). The key goal of AA is to achieve total sobriety.

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12 Step Program UK – The Stages Explained

Before we delve into the 12 steps of AA, let’s discuss the 12 traditions. The 12 traditions represent the values that you inhibit when you join AA or NA. You’re encouraged to abide by these values throughout your recovery, implementing them into your daily life.

The 12 traditions of AA are:

  1. Unity
  2. Leadership
  3. Eligibility
  4. Autonomy
  5. Spread the Message
  6. Outside Enterprises
  7. Self-Supportive
  8. Give Away Support
  9. Organise yourself
  10. Ignore outside opinion
  11. Speak well of the program
  12. Preserve the anonymity of the members


Now you have an understanding of what Alcoholics Anonymous is, along with the 12 traditions, it’s time to learn the exact nature of the 12 steps.

1 – Admitting You Have A Problem

The first step towards addiction recovery at AA is admitting you have a problem. In order to proceed with the next steps, you need to admit that you have previously been powerless over alcohol, and understand the effects that substance abuse has had on your life.

2 – Greater Power

The second of the 12 steps is a spiritual one. There’s no denying that AA has religious overtones – however, you don’t have to believe in a particular ‘God’ to follow the steps.

You can simply understand that a higher power can restore your life, or that you can work with a higher power to overcome your addiction. This is one of the steps that leaves some people with the impression that Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult – however, AA is not a cult.

3 – Turning Yourself Over

Once you’ve come to the realisation that there is a ‘greater power’ that can guide you, you are encouraged to turn your life over to the higher power. If you’re not religious, you can simply admit that you aren’t in complete control of your life, or you weren’t during active addiction.

4 – Taking A Moral Inventory

Now is the time to take a fearless moral inventory – be honest with yourself and make a list of your rights and wrongs. What could you improve? What do you regret? Take a personal inventory of your life.

5 – Admitting Your Wrongs

The fifth step is to admit your wrongs – things that you regret. This could be things you did or certain behaviours you exhibited during addiction, or things that you think you could’ve done better before you became addicted to alcohol.

You could admit all these defects to yourself, to a ‘higher power’, or to other people, explaining the nature of your mistakes. Some people choose to admit their wrongs to all three.

6 – Preparing for Forgiveness

During this step, you’ll prepare yourself for forgiveness. This may involve asking your God or a higher power for forgiveness, asking them to remove the negative traits, thoughts, or behaviours from your life so that you can start a clean slate.

7 – Asking for Forgiveness

When you feel sufficiently prepared to ask for forgiveness, it’s time to do so. You may have developed a fresh outlook, so you may now be in a position where you can move forward and humbly ask for forgiveness.

8 – Making a List

This step involves making a list of people that you have harmed. For some people, this list may be a long one – and may involve plenty of thought and reflection. However, it’s an important step as it allows you to make amends.

9 – Making Amends

Making direct amends with people you’ve hurt is important – it can help to ease feelings of guilt and allow you to make a fresh start. Refer to your list and try to build bridges with people you’ve hurt. This stage can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

It’s important to note that you may not be able to make amends with everybody on the list – and you shouldn’t do so if it could hurt the person.

10 – Realignment

The tenth step in AA addiction recovery treatment involves being aware and being present on a consistent basis. This means continually taking a personal inventory, and when you make mistakes (which we all do), admitting it.

11 – Meditation (and Prayer)

Before your ‘spiritual awakening’, AA encourages you to pray and meditate on a regular basis to improve your consciousness – and your conscious contact with ‘God’ or a higher power.

12 – Spiritual Awakening

The final step of the 12 steps of AA is to have a spiritual awakening, which can only be achieved by following the previous steps.

It also involves continuing to go to AA or other support groups and helping others in a similar situation go through their recovery from substance abuse.

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Help Alcohol Addiction Recovery?

In short, yes – AA can help you along your addiction recovery journey. However, although you may be tempted to delve straight into the AA group and the 12 steps program, you need to build a solid foundation first to overcome addiction – which can include addiction treatment with qualified addiction counsellors.

Treating addiction typically involves three key stages – detoxification, therapy, and secondary treatment. You should detox from alcohol before you begin the 12 steps – your body needs to be free of physical dependence.

If you’re interested in enlisting in an alcohol detox facility, our team of experts at Help4Addiction can find the right place for you. Contact us at 0203 955 7700, or get in touch with us through our online consultation service.

At Help4Addiction, we can help with drug and alcohol addiction – we’ve been helping people find the right rehab clinics for years, and can do the same for you.

Whether you’re looking for inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab, private rehab or NHS-operated rehab, the perfect clinic is out there for you.

Support doesn’t have to end once you leave rehab – you can continue receiving support in the form of therapy (group therapy, family therapy, one-to-one therapy), group work, online support, telephone support, and much more.

The 12-step program is much more effective when you have built the foundation of recovery – when you’re free of the substance and you’ve broken the physical dependence.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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