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The 12 Step program was originally developed and implemented in the United States by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This fellowship group was created by two individuals, Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, and was designed specifically for alcohol addiction recovery. Over time different groups have used the 12 Step program and modified the language to apply to different types of addiction recovery programs.


The original 12 Step program used by AA and other recovery programs often had a strong religious basis and included prayers and mention of God or a higher power in the actual steps as well as in the program materials. Many groups now use the term a”higher power” exclusively simply to designate that change does require more than just the will of the individual. The higher power is self-defined and can be spiritual or non-spiritual in nature.


In keeping with looking for resources outside of self, group support is another valuable component of any 12 Step program. Having a mentor or sponsor as well as the ability to talk with individuals that are dealing with the same challenges in their recovery is very helpful to many in recovery.
Groups meetings can be attended as needed by the individual. Most people will attend frequently until they have achieved the sober lifestyle they desire, and then attend as needed. The understanding that the group is always there, will follow specific principles and guidelines, and respects each individual’s progress, privacy and life story is a great asset in recovery.


The process itself, developed through working through the 12 Steps in order, is measurable and strategically planned. As addicts admit their addiction, learn to use resources and rely on a higher power they gain specific skills necessary to continue on mending relationships and strengthening themselves.
Steps in the program don’t just focus on addiction recovery. They also help with acknowledging and addressing the relationship damage that addictions of all types cause. Within the program the addict will, in later steps, make amends, modify behaviour and acknowledge and, whenever possible, address the injuries done to self and others through the addiction.
This time tested and research proven pathway to recovery and sobriety for life addresses all issues of addiction from the actual illness component through to physical and mental health. Working in developing an understanding of spirituality at a personal and not necessarily religious level is also key in the success that the process has experienced.
These programs are designed to be used for a group with identified and similar addictions. In other words alcoholics complete a program with other alcoholics while those with drug addictions do best in groups focussed on narcotics addictions.
As with any type of addiction recovery participation in a 12 Step program is only one component of a journey to sobriety and living an addiction free life. Therapy, counselling and coaching is typically used in conjunction with the program for optimum results.

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