Alcohol rehab 12 step programme

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The alcohol rehab 12 step programme is designed to help individuals with a substance abuse addiction, such as alcohol use disorder (AUD) recover from their addictions.

The programme at its beginning consisted of 12 steps in the 1930s, and AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) supported its membership to defeat alcoholism and behavioural or substance abuse.

The 12-step programme is specifically designed for people to aid each other in achieving and maintaining abstinence from alcohol and substance abuse to which they are addicted to.

The main idea behind the programme is that the participants must admit and surrender to the divine power to live a happy life.

Individuals can acknowledge and improve their behaviours by attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and joining support groups.

They share their ideas and experiences and seek assistance in the attempt to achieve sobriety. Some people find support groups like Narcotics Anonymous helpful.

What are the 12 Steps by Alcoholics Anonymous?

The 12 steps define a band of rules and actions to assist people in recouping from addiction.

These rules have been made to deal with a wide range of conditions like substance abuse, alcoholism, overeating, dependency, alcohol abuse, and gambling for long-term success.

Alcohol rehab treatment centres use 12-step programme to support their patients in achieving permanent recovery from the habits or things they are addicted to.

The 12 steps are as follows set by Alcoholics Anonymous:

1. Acknowledgment of the defects of character humbly

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

2. Having Faith

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

3. Giving up

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

4. Moral inventory

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admittance

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

6. Surrender 

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

7. Requesting the Lord

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Remediation

Make a list of all those we have harmed and make amends to them all.

9. Willing to make amends

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when would injure them or others.

10. Personal inventory

Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Recovery process + Connection with God

Through prayer and meditation, to improve our consciousness and connect with God. We do this to understand Him; praying only for His knowledge will give us the power to carry that out.

12. Practicing the rules consistently

Having a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles.

The core idea of using a 12-step programme is to motivate recovering addicts to follow its tenet and join their peers to attain a state of sobriety and overcome progressive illness.

Addiction experts admit that a belief-based treatment programme, personalized to the patient’s needs, affects people to attain and maintain abstinence compared to the other treatment options.

The 12-steps is the most effective alternative to drug addiction treatment and other therapies.

The 12 step approach to Alcohol Addiction

The 12-step approach to alcohol addiction helps people learn how to deal with their addictions, cope with triggers and maintain abstinence to live a decent life.

An Addiction treatment aims to help patients experience spiritual foundation or “spiritual awakening” – Alcoholics Anonymous used this phrase to represent the mandatory personality changes to overcome alcohol abuse, substance, and other addictions.

The Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are usually arranged in public places by addiction professionals and addiction counsellors like churches, schools, national institute, and community centres.

The treatment facility provides a forum for the addicts to share their experiences, including their efforts and their victories, with those in the recovery process.

All participants learn the 12-steps together and work on them. Countless individuals have used the 12-step approach to alcohol addiction for decades as an addiction treatment.

In most cases, participants triumph their addiction and become healthy community members while maintaining sobriety.

Alcohol abuse is an old narrative now and Alcoholics Anonymous introduced this life-changing program for addicts as an effective medication for alcohol addiction which is FDA-approved and available for years.

But medical establishments and society are just catching up now.

History of the 12 step programme for alcohol addiction

The 12-step programme belongs to mutual aid organizations with the primary purpose of recovering addicts and anonymous gamblers from dependence, substance abuse, behavioural addictions, and compulsions by treating addiction.

This programme was designed in 1935 by Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith and Bill Wilson; the popular AA members known as “Dr. Bob” and “Bill W,” as the first 12-step programme, Alcoholic Anonymous supported its membership.

alcohol rehab 12 step programme 1

Since then, several other organizations have followed the Alcoholic Anonymous approach to handling the problems like overeating, compulsive gambling, and drug addiction.

In 1946, the twelve traditions were formally built to help addicts cope with their issues. The 12 traditions were later named as 12 spiritual principles/ 12-steps for alcohol addiction.

Every 12-step programme uses a version of AA’s recommended 12-steps which were published in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism.” In 1939.

Non-12-step programmes

Unlike The 12 Steps, non 12 steps rehab prioritises an evidence-based approach to treating substance abuse and administer therapies that follow scientific observations. 

In a non-12-step programme, inpatients are educated on the harmful effects of alcohol addiction and encouraged to find personal motivation to quit drinking. Similarly, inpatients are self-reliant in a non-12-step alcohol rehab instead of surrendering to a higher power.

Alternatives to the 12-step model

For many years, people with alcohol addiction have had a confined set of treatment options.

In recent years health practitioners, addiction counsellors, and organizations have teamed up to establish a new way of thinking about alcohol abstinence.

This has taken us all to a multitude of science-based treatments.

It’s crucial to understand that both the new and traditional treatments work to diverse extents.

As with most health problems and addictions, particular treatments work better for particular people.

For instance, Alcoholics Anonymous calls for a sponsor for people, experience the 12 steps believe in the divine power, and stay sober.

For some people, this treatment works fine. Still, other people with AUD may find abstinence unavoidable, aren’t religious, and can’t schedule their time for attending meetings and group sessions.

Those people may get help from alternative recovery programmes and other sobriety support groups.


Below, we have highlighted the top 10 alternative treatments to the 12-step programme:

1. SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery 3 meetings are organized all over the country and are the best alternatives to the 12-step model and meetings by support groups and treatment facilities.

They are established on a 4-point program that combines coping strategies, motivation, cognitive-behavioural management, and models to live a sober life.

SMART represents “Self-Management and Recovery Training.”

2. RIA Health

RIA Health is an app-based non-AA addiction treatment program that blends counselling and anti-craving medication.

With this program the addicts get access to medical counselling, online support groups, addiction counsellors and a personal recovery coach from home. 

This 12-step programme alternative is more like a residential rehabilitation.

Dissimilar to several traditional programs, RIA health is managed by addiction experts and healthcare professionals.

They can individualize treatments to patient’s goals whether that’s drinking less or not at all.

The program is evidence-based and works on psychological and physical factors. Weekly group calls are arranged for peer support and 1x1 recovery support is offered.

Flexible schedules with low-time commitment, a non-religious/ secular alternative to alcoholics anonymous world services, and a mobile breathalyser to observe the addict’s progress are some of the program highlights.

The participants of the program learn to cope with their triggers and cravings, self-managing strategies to reduce anxiety levels and break habits, to deal with triggers, stigma, and shame.

3. Moderation Management

Moderation Management is another alternative addiction treatment to the 12-step programme proposed by rehab clinics and treatment centres.

It is designed for drinkers who are in the initial stages of addiction. The other therapies and meetings are outlined for behavioural changes.

It involves a 9-step treatment program. The patient sets goals, manages individual suffering, learns coping strategies, self-management strategies, and drinking limits.

4. Naked mind

This is an online program for awareness. It comprises a community and various informal products (addiction medicine).

The treatment provider helps in getting rid of the cravings and triggers by beliefs deconstruction about alcohol by addiction professionals and support groups.

5. Women for Sobriety

This is another secular alternative to AA. Women with substance abuse disorders are treated by this addiction recovery support group.

Their updated Life Program has been designed on 13 acceptance statements targeted to promote growth.

The program aims for abstinence and the addicts are offered with chat leaders, addiction counsellors, certified moderators, and in-person support groups.

It welcomes women with all forms of addiction or substance abuse. The patients learn to address the problems, problem-solving strategies, and cognitive-behavioural strategies.

6. The Tempest Sobriety School

This school has designed an 8-week online course for addicts and aims for abstinence. After abstinence, the users can use the material for one year.

The program includes weekly lectures, an online course, Q & A sessions, support community, addiction counsellors, and breakout groups.

The patients learn intention-setting, mindfulness & meditation, craving strategies, and the creation of a sobriety road map.

7. Harm Reduction for Alcohol (HAMS)

HAMS is a group led by peers who provide information and support to those who want to change their drinking habits. It’s another effective alternative to AA and consists of 17 steps.

The programme’s goal is abstinence or moderation. The individuals are self-directed with peer support and resources, email groups, chat rooms, private Facebook group, official HAMS articles and books, live meetings, and regular recovery plans.

8. IGNTD Recovery

This online addiction program is for those with drugs and alcohol dependencies.

This alternative to 12 step programme offers live group support chats. Users can access the resources and documents for a year.

The program is designed to maintain abstinence or moderation. It offers live group support chats, online courses for addiction, how to live shame-free, and a variety of teaching approaches to an individual’s recovery to their own needs.

The patients learn meditation, hypnosis, mindfulness, dialectical behaviour strategies, cognitive-behavioural strategies, and habit change strategies with mindset coaching.

9. LifeRing

LifeRing organization is another excellent alternative treatment provider to the 12-step programme.

This organization offers in-person, peer-to-peer support including online resources and meetings. The program aims for abstinence.

It includes email groups, forums, online and local meetings, addiction counsellors, peer-to-peer support and it’s another great non-religious alternative to AA.

10. SOS Sobriety

Secular organization for sobriety is a web of independent groups to assist addicts to maintain sobriety. This program is for those who are looking for some non-religious alternatives to anonymous alcoholics' meetings.

The primary purpose of this program is the maintenance of sobriety. The patients are served with online groups, local groups, reliable treatment facility and mutual support.

They learn to maintain or at least achieve sobriety, rational decision making and follow a cycle of sobriety that includes acceptance, admittance, and prioritizing abstinence.

Over the past few years, society has changed its approach towards treating AUD and substance abuse.

These alternative methods work magically for people who are secular and prefer programs that offer anti-craving medication with counselling.

Wrap Up

Although the 12 steps programme is being utilized on the same ideas invented by the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous, the programme focuses on understanding, believing in, and surrendering to a “higher power” and having faith that

God will help the recovering individuals to find the purpose and meaning in their life and maintain sobriety.

The programme delivers an incredible sense of “spiritual foundation” and engages the addicts in prayer and meditation for long-term success.

This can be an effective addiction treatment for people as they triumph over their addictions and compulsions.

Personal Recovery depends on your willpower and commitment to live a healthy, respectful, and sober life.

Join the 12 step programme today by leaving all your fears behind!

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About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.