What Are the 12 Steps?

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What are the 12 steps?

The 12 steps are a framework designed to help people who are struggling with addiction and helping them achieve the goal of abstinence from all drugs, alcohol and addictive behaviours. These principles are set out to help provide support and highlight the importance of accountability in recovery.

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These steps were formed as part of Alcoholics Anonymous, which became the foundation for recovery in the 1930s. Due to its success, these methods were later adopted by other mutual aid societies such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. Many people are familiar with the Twelve Steps of Recovery for drugs and alcohol; however, they are also used in treatment for other non-substance-related disorders such as sex addiction to overeating. While some of the language has been updated to include different addictions, the programme’s original message remains the same.

How Does 12-Step Therapy Work?

The 12-step therapy model is largely based on group interactions rather than individual counselling and provides no medical intervention. While counselling and medical intervention are also part of addiction recovery, it is the 12 steps participants go through that provide a bridge between past behaviours and an addiction-free future.

To achieve and maintain sobriety, the 12 steps programme should be followed in sequence. While some steps may be more challenging than others, each one is essential to long-term success. A sponsor is recommended when going through the Twelve Step programme, as you will require guidance and advice during the process. A sponsor is someone who is happy to share their own experience and journey through recovery, thereby supporting new members of the community.

What are the 12 steps

What Are the 12 Steps & What Do They Mean?


Step one is about finally accepting that you are powerless over your addiction and seeks to reclassify addiction as an illness. This step focuses on emphasising that addiction cannot be cured by the simple power of will. This lack of control must be understood before you can proceed with the programme.

Higher Power

A 12 Step programme is not allied with any religion, but is designed to be spiritual. Members are encouraged to find their own higher power, examples of which can include a religious God, the universe, karma, or another individual. Step two aims to highlight that recovery is possible once you abandon the illusion of control.


Turning over your life’ refers to the importance of accepting outside help whenever you feel overwhelmed. This could mean connecting and engaging with your higher power and allowing yourself time to reflect upon your experiences.

Soul Searching

Step four aims to explore the causes of addiction, and in this case, a ‘moral inventory’ refers to any aspect states which may have contributed to your addictive . Taking the time to recognise these issues allows you to better understand what needs to change and identify any personal strengths that can help support your recovery.


Living with guilt and shame can lead to relapse. The goal is to lower the risk of destructive coping mechanisms by unburdening yourself and admitting harmful behaviours. The programme operates on the belief that true healing comes from speaking about experiences.


Step 6 is an opportunity for release. Letting go of the negative behaviours identified in the previous steps is a massive hurdle. ‘Defects of character’ are reshaped by replacing old coping behaviours with healthier decisions.


Step seven connects with the idea of humility. Now that you know what to remove, they can allow their higher Power to assist. Remaining humble keeps the recovering individual from downsizng the impact of behaviours. It also causes one to check the limits of their will over disease.


Step 8  is like a moral inventory of one’s social damages. Guilt management is vital to avoiding destructive coping behaviours. ‘Persons we had harmed’ makes us accountable to those hurt by our actions.


Making mends with those hurt. The term ‘direct amends’ suggests that this should be a face-to-face apology, however, this isn’t always possible. If the apology is likely to cause further harm to the person or yourself, then the amends cannot be made. This will also require acceptance in order to move forward with your recovery.

Treatment at CATCH Recovery

At CATCH Recovery, we create treatment programmes based on the 12 Step philosophy and harness therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) and MI (motivational interviewing). As experienced addiction professionals, we know that structure is effective when it comes to helping you overcome the psychological aspects of addiction, avoiding relapse, and continuing a stable life after rehab.

Becoming familiar with the 12-step programme means you can continue attending groups as part of your recovery once you leave our clinic and benefit from the global recovery fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Gamblers Anonymous, among many others.

Our clinic located in Kensington, South West London, offers exceptional and bespoke treatment plans, whether you’re being treated on an inpatient or outpatient basis. We also offer therapy online so that you can benefit from our therapy no matter your location.

If travelling to London is an obstacle for you, then we can offer referrals to other clinics within the UK and IrelandSimilarly, because we don’t provide a medical detox on-site, we are happy to refer you to one of our partner clinics. Our range of services also includes virtual therapy sessions for those who are unable to commit to residential rehab. 

what are the 12 steps

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