Addiction Recovery - Sobriety

Alcoholics Anonymous: When Recovery From Alcohol Addiction Is 12 Steps Away

Alcoholics Anonymous: When Recovery from Alcohol Addiction is 12 Steps Away

Alcoholics Anonymous is the best-known 12-Step group. It’s played a critical role in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Learn more in our blog!

By the Numbers:

51.7% of individuals aged 12 and up flagged up drinking, while 24.5% spree drank on a certain occasion, but 6.1% were involved in heavy alcohol, binge drinking on five or more days in the week. National Survey on Drug Use and Health started this survey in 2017.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international, community-focused organization founded to assist individuals battling with alcohol abuse in becoming sober with the help of their fellows through regular talks and meetings about addiction. The organization provides a safe environment for women and men to talk about their experiences of alcohol addiction, recovery from alcohol addiction, and how they resist the temptation of alcohol. Its core idea is based on the understanding that alcoholism is a disorder that can be treated but not eliminated.

Alcoholics Anonymous: A Short History of This Most Famous 12-Step Group

AA was established in 1935 by Bill Wilson with his doctor, Bob Smith, and expanded to two other groups by 1939. In 1939, Wilson released Alcoholics Anonymous, a book that detailed the organization's ideology and procedures. It is currently known as the 12 Steps of Recovery, or the Big Book. Other addiction treatment organizations and self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous, have adapted the 12 Steps to help persons battling different types of addiction over the years.

Various groups have adjusted the original 12 Steps’ Christian connotations to represent more agnostic or secular approaches.

Aside from developing a willingness to stop drinking, there are no additional qualifications for AA, and it isn't affiliated with any group, religion, ideology, denomination, or government. Those who attend AA commit to participating willingly, as just a continuity of therapy, or as part of a court-ordered rehab program. Given the large number of individuals suffering from or in danger of developing an AUD, it is natural that AA has evolved into what it is presently an organization with over 115,000 groups globally.

The Alcoholics Anonymous Organization

AA is operated by volunteers who were formerly addicted to alcohol who wished to assist others rather than by a team of leaders. This organization's culture has proven extremely beneficial to AA and its 2 million members. Every year, the number of AA chapters is growing worldwide, and there are now over 100,000 groups. Every Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group operates independently and depends on donations to meet various expenditures.

Several AA groups include groups wherein members serve for a specific time - often six months to 2 years. Representatives will elect a new member to help after a position's tenure is completed. Individuals can be as active as they like, thanks to the rotation of posts.

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Twelve Steps to Recovery From Alcoholism

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a spiritual road for self-recovery from the ravages of alcoholism for individuals using alcohol and their family and friends in Al-Anon Family Groups. AA's Twelve Steps are widely employed in non-alcohol addiction rehabilitation programs. Many participants in 12-step recovery programs discovered that the steps were a means of overcoming addiction and a path to a new standard of life. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Cocaine Anonymous (C.A.), and Narcotics Anonymous (N.A.) are three of the most well-known 12-step programs.

The Twelve Steps and How They Work

The Twelve Steps, as detailed in Chapter 5, "How It Works," of the textbook Alcoholics Anonymous, present a proposed path of treatment that succeeded for the early volunteers of AA and has continued to work for many others over the years, regardless of the sort of drug they used.

The Twelve Steps itself are the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous. These are the instructions intended to offer members a road to long-term recovery and a substance-free existence. In addition, twelve-Step meetings are regarded as the "fellowship" portion of the AA mutually supportive groups, where members gather to discuss their journeys.

These groups may be the primary source of change for many people in changing their attitude towards addiction to alcohol, but they also frequently supplement formal treatment. These initiatives can also be beneficial in terms of long-term assistance and care.

According to one estimate, there are around 64,000 communities in the United States and Canada alone, with members of more than 1.4 million. In addition, there are roughly 115,000 groups worldwide that support over 2.1 million members.

The Twelve Steps for Recovery

However, the traditional 12 Steps of AA have been modified over time, and the principle of every step stays the same for all 12-step rehabilitation programs.

You can acquire knowledge from your personal experiences and confidence and optimism for your recovery by thoroughly researching the steps and learning how others have implemented the concepts in their life. The principles and steps are as follows:

  1. Accepting truth: After several years of denial, rehabilitation might begin with a simple confession of powerlessness over alcoholism or any other addiction to which a patient is addicted. Their family and friends may also use this step to accept that a loved one seems to have an addiction.

  2. Belief: In order for a higher power to function, one must first trust that it can happen. In AA, members recognize the existence of a greater power that can assist them in healing.

  3. Capitulate: Recognize that you can't heal on your own; however, with the assistance of your greater power, you may heal or recover steadily.

  4. Introspection: The individual in rehabilitation must examine their issues and understand how their conduct affected them, and those around them is the 4th step of alcoholics anonymous.

  5. Sincerity: Step 5 offers a lot of room for development. In order to recuperate, the person must accept their mistakes in front of the greater power and other people.

  6. Acknowledgment: is the essence of Step 6—accepting personality flaws precisely as they exist and becoming completely willing to let go of them.

  7. Modesty: Step 7's spiritual focus is on requesting an ultimate capacity to do something that can't be done via self-will or determination alone.

  8. Intention: This step asks you to create a list of individuals you've injured before entering rehabilitation, 

  9. Remission: Making apologies may appear complicated, but for the ones who are sincere about healing, it can be an excellent approach to begin rebuilding your relationships.

  10. Improvement: Nobody wants to admit when they are wrong. However, it is a critical step in maintaining spiritual growth in recovery.

  11. Getting in touch: Step 11 is just to uncover your greater power's strategy for life.

  12. Customer support: The individual in recovery must spread the word and apply the program's ideals in all aspects of life.

The Twelve Customs of Alcoholics Anonymous

Similar to how the 12 steps explain the road to recovery for people battling with alcoholism addiction, the Twelve Traditions are also the spiritual truths that underpin the twelve steps.

These customs influence how twelve-step rehabilitation groups operate. Traditions emphasize the value of unity, good leadership, and liberty. These also tackle problems such as group funding and public relations management. The 12 traditions' objective is to assist and give standards for the group's connections with society and each of its members. 

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Alcoholics Anonymous: What Is the Success Rate?

Numerous paths to recovery from substance abuse exist, although twelve-step groups are simply one resource many may find helpful. According to research, 12-step programs and mutual assistance groups can be quite beneficial in the rehabilitation process. 

According to self-report data obtained by C.A., AA, and N.A., the average sobriety duration among participating members is only five years. A quarter of participants reported abstaining for about one to five years. Additional formal study backs up the results of group therapy surveys. Attending the twelve-step rehabilitation programs in combination with specialist substance use therapy is linked to improved well-being. Engaging in activities and meetings can also help lower the chances of recurrence.

Rates of Scientific Backing and Effectiveness

According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a 50% success rate, including 25% maintaining sober after occasional relapses. However, since some members prefer to remain anonymous or do not wish to confess to relapsing, there is insufficient impartial information to measure such rates.

According to the ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine), roughly 10% of people who join a 12-Step program experience long-term success in their recovery. However, according to some research, members walk out at a 40% rate within their first year, causing group participation to fluctuate often.

In 2014, Alcoholics Anonymous stated about 27% of something like the 6,000 people who took part in an official survey had recovered in less than one year; 24% had been sober for more than five years, whereas 13% had been sober for a decade. In addition, 14 percent of research participants reported being sober for ten to twenty years, while 22% reported staying sober for even more than twenty years.

A long-term study undertaken by the NIAAA(National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) discovered that individuals with alcoholism who took both formal treatments and joined an AA meeting had a significantly better likelihood of becoming sober than those who just received standard treatment. According to the NIAAA, improved links between community-based gatherings and comprehensive treatment resources will lead to a more efficient systemic approach to addressing alcohol use problems.

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Benefits and Drawbacks of 12-Step Addiction Treatment

While the 12 stages of recovery could be effective for several people, evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of the programs prior to deciding if this method is correct for you.

The Benefits

Such programs provide a variety of advantages, including:

  • A free service to the community to combat alcohol or drug abuse issues.

  • Easily accessible

  • Group based

  • Helps individuals to become more involved in their recovery.

  • Provides both in-person and online choices


12-step support network programs, on the other hand, might not be suitable for everyone.

Some difficulties or potential downsides include:

  • Participating in 12-step meetings may be more difficult if you have co-occurring psychological or persistent health concerns.

  • The only focus on a higher power may turn some people off.

  • Certain groups, including women and sexual minorities, may find 12-step groups less helpful.

  • Some people may feel demoralized by the stress of powerlessness.

  • The approach holds the individual solely responsible for addiction and recovery.

  • The basic rehabilitation structures, such as drug detoxification and withdrawal, are not addressed.

Although 12-step approaches can be beneficial, they aren't always the ideal option for everyone. These are inexpensive, readily accessible, and handy resources for recovering from substance abuse. Still, their focus on acknowledging helplessness and relying on a greater power might be problematic for certain people.

12-Step Alternatives for Alcohol Rehabilitation Programs

The Twelve stages of recovery activities are just one sort of social support offered to persons attempting to quit using drugs and alcohol. Among the few other options for 12-step programs are:

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a non-religious option to twelve-step rehabilitation programs such as AA Instead of stressing powerlessness and faith in a greater power. The method highlights substance abuse as a behavior individuals can learn to regulate through Smart Recovery. It incorporates elements of C.B.T. (cognitive-behavioral therapy) to assist members in developing motivation, changing addictive attitudes, coping with cravings, and adopting healthy routines.

S.O.S. (Secular Sobriety Organizations)

Rather than accepting a higher power, this approach focuses on assisting individuals in conquering addictions by concentrating on personal values and integrity. S.O.S. encourages people to prioritize abstinence in their lives and undertake any necessary actions to remain on the road to recovery.

Treatment by a Professional

Professional addiction treatment can considerably improve a people's chances of healing, aside from mutual support and self-help groups, 12-step programs, or an alternative method. Depending on the requirements of the individual, such treatments may include therapy, drugs, or inpatient/outpatient rehabilitation. Consult your physician about which options could be best for you.

Experiencing Sobriety Outside of AA

If you or somebody has an alcohol addiction that is interfering with their lives, several treatment options are accessible to you. Treatment at a drug rehab with customized therapy sessions and personal physicians might be considered to attain sobriety.

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The Edge Treatment Center Provides Expert Addiction Care for Alcohol Abuse

The Edge Treatment Center is a leading drug addiction treatment provider. Our facility provides more flexibility in its treatment plans to ensure that everyone receives tailored treatment that can result in better and faster results, paving the road to sobriety and normal, healthy life. In addition, there are therapeutic options available for those whose depression is inextricably linked to substance abuse and alcoholism, including a combination of professional therapy and personal monitoring at each stage of recovery.

While we’re not a 12-step treatment center, The Edge Treatment Center welcomes participation in 12-step groups. Many of our staff are involved in the program. Together, we’ll help you craft a life worth living. Want to know more about our evidence-based programs for alcohol addiction? Contact The Edge today!

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery


December 31, 2022