Twelve-step groups use a process largely based on a “one-size-fits-all” recipe to resolve both substance and behaviour disorders and to prevent relapses. In contrast to personalised psychotherapy, it relies on conventional wisdom and pragmatic solutions. It is not limited to Alcoholics Anonymous and similar “anonymous” groups. There are many mutual-support groups using slightly different versions of the 12-step principles, where members and codependents can meet to help and motivate each other.
Advice about 12-step groups
Contact us for advice about the suitability and availability of 12-step groups. We can point you in the right direction.
The accessibility of 12-step groups
Twelve-step groups usually offer free membership, with no subscription fees or other financial obligations. They may, however, accept voluntary contributions and invite membership participation in fundraising activities. Private, religious or government entities often provide free facilities, in accessible local areas, for the meetings. Most 12-step groups do not endorse specific religions, cultures or discriminatory practices.
The convenience of 12-step groups
The universal approach of 12-step groups appeals to people who feel they do not need complex personalised therapy to overcome substance or behaviour problems. Some people are averse to being “labeled” with a psychological disorder, or feel that official classification may invite discrimination. In some cases it is also convenient when there is a risk of jeopardising their careers by taking leave to attend in-house treatment at a rehabilitation facility.
The future of 12-step groups
The 12-step process, and groups utilising it, are currently being criticised by a sector of society who feel it is unscientific and outdated. Others defend it, arguing that basic human nature has not changed and that logic, suitability for certain individuals, and many other positive elements, justify its continuation. Despite the bickering, 12-step groups continue to thrive as the pressures of modern life increase.
Understanding 12 step groups
Since the well known 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups started in 1939, local AA groups have sprouted worldwide and the principle has diversified into a variety of other substance and behaviour support groups and programs.
All 12-step groups with “Anonymous” in their names adhere to the same basic principles as AA, but some change their names to indicate a specific focus, for example “Gamblers Anonymous”. There are many of these focus groups, but the standard AA groups also include members struggling with other issues.
There are also other 12-step mutual-support groups loosely based on the original AA principles, but without the “Anonymous” nomenclature and with subtle differences in their approach. For instance; they may discard the religious (“higher power”) emphasis of the AA, and add some ground rules of their own.
Whilst the “Anonymous” groups are managed solely by active members who are not health professionals, other 12-step groups are often led or supervised by professional therapists.
All 12-step groups follow a basic, universal self-help approach with predetermined principles and rules applicable to all members of the group. Though they do not offer individually tailored treatment therapies, many find them effective, convenient and economic alternatives to private health care.
The main impediment to 12-step group participation is lack of access to professional therapy for severe pathology and medical treatment, making it unsuitable until an affected person has completed such treatment. However, it is suitable in cases where such treatment is not vital and is, especially, useful for preventing relapses.
The major advantages of 12-step groups are that they usually do not charge any fees and anybody who desires relief from a disorder can join, including codependents. They meet after working hours, rules are minimal and members benefit by sharing, learning, networking, forming friendships, and supporting each other in a sympathetic communal atmosphere.
Call us for free advice
We have the resources and network outreach to help you decide whether a 12-step group is suitable for your circumstances and where and how you can get in touch with a group. The information is free and all you need to do is to pick up your phone and dial the number provided on this page.
Please note that information about health issues provided on public platforms is generalised and aimed at a broad public audience. Individuals are required to obtain personal advice for their specific circumstances from a qualified health professional.