How is the 12-Step Program Effective for Alcoholism?

Perhaps you or a loved one has recently attended a meeting in a rehabilitation center, and they’ve mentioned the 12-Step Program. If you’re not sure what it is or even if it’s right for you, read below for more information about the Program, its history, its benefits, and what exactly the steps are.

Twelve Step is a recovery model initiated by the Alcoholics Anonymous group in 1935. It was primarily founded by Bill Wilson, who experienced several harrowing events and mental health issues in his lifetime. After collaborating with his friend, Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, he shared his twelve-step idea, and together they came up with a group called Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W and Dr. Bob started writing the Big Book to provide a set of guidelines, which was published in 1939. Included in this book was the world-renowned Twelve Step program.

A key element of the Twelve Step program is the support and connection it manifests through peer support. Below are ways it has been successful in treating alcoholism:

  1. Provides Support

The basic idea behind this recovery model is that individuals can help each other achieve and maintain abstinence from substances of abuse. But to fully heal, you must surrender to a Higher Power and accept that you are powerless to recover on your own. The reinforcement you receive from working together is essential to fight against temptation. More importantly, knowing that a Higher Power is ready to help you achieve your goal can ultimately lead to a successful recovery.

Based on these principles, Serenity at Summit provides treatment options specifically designed to meet your individual needs while providing the necessary support.

  1. Offers Encouragement

Achieving sobriety comes with a lot of challenges and obstacles along the way. Keeping your eye on the bigger picture is key to staying true to your path and continuing with the Program. However, there are circumstances that push people to the brink, from which it is extremely difficult to recover. The motivation to recover and resolve ambivalence comes from within and not from outside.

Following the Twelve Steps, clients can focus on specific patterns and habits in their behavior. Identifying patterns can help develop a plan for implementing desired changes.

  1. Induces Accountability

Accountability is essential to living a healthy life and achieving total freedom. Recovery requires positive thoughts and a positive attitude. It’s important to surround yourself with people who hold you accountable for your actions and guide you along the right path.

A person who lacks acceptance cannot understand the importance of going through trials of healing. Accountability allows you to recognize faults in your actions, which, in turn, enables you to take responsibility for them.

Practicing accountability will help you monitor your actions and give you the tools you need to remain sober long after you have completed the Program.


As per the Program, the human structure is expressed symbolically in three dimensions: physical, mental, and spiritual. Whatever a person is facing must reflect itself in each of these dimensions. For instance, the body’s knee-jerk reaction to continue using the substance after initial use can be its physical dimension. The mental aspect might be the obsession with repeating a compulsive behavior and expecting different results. Lastly, spirituality intends to replace self-centeredness with a growing moral conscience to produce selfless and productive actions.


Over time, the original twelve steps have undergone various modifications though the premise of each step remains the same. By exploring the steps in-depth, you can gain insight into your own experiences to obtain hope and strength on the path of recovery.

As outlined in the original Big Book, the 12 Steps by Alcoholics Anonymous are:

Step One: Honesty

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Two: Faith

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step Three: Trust

We decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step Four: Insight

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step Five: Integrity

We admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step Six: Attendance

We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step Seven: Humility

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step Eight: Willpower

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step Nine: Forgiveness

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when it would have injured them or others.

Step Ten: Conservation

We continued to take personal inventory and promptly admitted it when we were wrong.

Step Eleven: Accomplishment

We 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.

Step Twelve: New Lifestyle

After experiencing the spiritual awakening that these steps brought, we encouraged alcoholics to apply these principles in all their affairs.


Providing actual statistics for the success rate of the Twelve Step program is impossible. The foundation principle of these meetings is that every participant remains anonymous. However, its popularity and the countless success stories from those in recovery suggest how well it has genuinely helped each individual.