What Are the 12 Steps of AA?

The 12 steps of AA can help those seeking recovery from alcohol use disorder and help them regain control over their lives again.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol usage disorder (AUD) is a chronic disease where the user has unmanageable drinking sprees and is often preoccupied with alcohol. This inability to control alcohol consumption may occur due to an underlying emotional or physical alcohol dependence. AUD is usually self-diagnosable when you notice repeated alcohol consumption despite potential health and legal issues.

12 steps of AA


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Why is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol is addictive due to its ability to alter the brain’s reward system. The brain’s reward system is essential because it supports naturally rewarding behaviors like eating, sleeping, working, socializing, among others. The brain learns to prioritize alcohol over everything else with prolonged, heavy drinking.

Does Alcohol Impact Everyone the Same Way?

Alcohol impacts each individual differently depending on many factors, including age, gender, weight, genetics, and the amount of alcohol consumed.

Stats on Alcohol Abuse

The National Institute on Alcohol abuse and alcoholism (NIAAA) recently released the following statistics about alcohol abuse:
  • 6.7% of adults using alcohol develop alcohol use disorder
  • 25.8% of people aged 18+ reported binge drinking for the previous thirty days
  • Almost three hundred US citizens die daily from excessive alcohol abuse
  • 1.7% of children 12-17 years have alcohol abuse disorder
  • According to the World Health Organization, excessive alcohol use causes 7.1% of diseases among males, and 2.2% among females.
  • Alcohol is linked to 13.5% of deaths between 20 to 39-year-olds.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is a recovery program for people struggling with drinking problems. They come together either physically or virtually to get support and help. The group is free for anyone who desires to stop drinking, and it does not have age restrictions or membership fees. The main goal of AA is to help members achieve and live a sober life.

AA is a multiracial, nonprofessional, and self-supporting organization found almost anywhere globally. The group does not have a sole leadership team but is run by former alcoholics who desire to help others. AA meetings are continuing to grow globally, with over two million members spread worldwide.3

Where Did the Twelve Steps Originate?

An older 2010 study shows that AA, which began in 1935, was one of the first programs of its kind. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson founded AA. Both these men had struggled with alcoholism and became involved in a non-alcoholic comradeship whose primary resolve emphasized the significance of spiritual values in daily life.

In 1939, AA published its first introductory textbook known as Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill wrote the texts, explained the group’s philosophy and methods, and developed a core ideology. This core ideology runs the AA support groups and still constitutes the 12 steps of recovery.

What's the Purpose of the Twelve Steps?

This program aims to help members attain abstinence from alcoholism or make a behavioral change through peer support. This intervention provides a supportive social network and creates bonding among group members, which is beneficial for recovery. AA members run the group meetings.

How and Why Does it Work?

The members usually emphasize that you can determine whether or not you are an alcoholic. Similarly, they point out that medical testimonies indicate alcohol is a progressive disease, and you can’t cure it in an ordinary sense. Hence, AA works because it’s easy to find rehab and counseling programs using internet portal keywords such as “AA meeting near me.” Not only is it easily accessible, but it offers accountability for members, among peer support.

What Are the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Most AA successes come from the idea that a former alcoholic reaches out and helps others stay sober. But just what are the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous? Here are the steps explained.

Step 1: Honesty

This step consists of admitting that you are powerless and that your life has become unimaginable due to alcohol usage. You have to be honest with yourself first. Then, the AA program gives you a support system to maintain sobriety.

Step 2: Hope

This step usually has members come to believe that a power greater than themselves can restore them to sanity after admitting that they are a slave to alcohol. Members can begin their recovery journey with stories from others and get hope for their own recovery.

Step 3: Surrender

This step talks about turn your will and life to the care of God as you understand him. It’s important to mention that Alcoholics Anonymous is open to any religion, even for people that don’t believe. This step was created mainly in order for members to realize they might need more help than sheer willpower alone.

Step 4: Courage

This step encourages members to consider having the courage to make a fearless moral account for themselves. Everything in society is for a specific purpose, and choosing how to live and interact with others needs courage.

Step 5: Integrity

In this step, members need to admit to God, themselves, and other people in their lives the exact nature of their wrongs. Members cannot blame others for their alcoholism.

Step 6: Willingness

Members need to be entirely ready to let God (or whatever higher power they believe in) remove all the defects of their personality. Recovery depends on our willingness to change our current character.

Step 7: Humility

Members need to realize that a power greater than their own can help make their recovery less strenuous.

Step 8: Love

This step talks about amends that members need to make against those they have wronged, along with preparing to make amends to them. If possible, ask for forgiveness and love yourself and others.

Step 9: Responsibility

Make direct amends to such people when you can. However, this step also consists of being responsible – don’t make direct amends if it will hurt yourself or others. Be mindful of other people’s feelings and avoid causing unnecessary pain.

Step 10: Discipline

This step talks about continuing to take personal inventory and admit when someone wrongs you. It’s important to not neglect yourself, and to not allow others to walk over you. By now, your self-esteem should be building back up.

Step 11: Awareness

This step talks about using meditation and prayer to improve your conscious contact with God (or a higher power). Ask for knowledge of the universe’s will for you and the power to carry that will out.

Step 12: Service

After following these steps, and having recovered with the help of others, convey the same message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all your daily life.

Do You Have to be Religious to Follow the Twelve Steps?

AA asks you to keep an open mind as you attend meetings and read AA literature interpreting and describing the AA program. AA does not impose any religion to follow the 12 steps, even during meetings.5

There are also several alternatives to AA, including Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART), medication-assisted treatment (MAT), holistic therapies, moderation management, and experimental therapies.

Get Help with Concise Recovery

The following interventions are available for you at Concise Recovery.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs at Concise Recovery

We offer around-the-clock care by our well-trained medical staff who respond to your medical and psychological needs immediately. If someone has suffered a severe alcohol addiction for a prolonged period, an outpatient setting might not work for them. Inpatient care offers a combination of medically supported approaches and therapy, which is likely to result in a better outcome for long-term maintenance of recovery.

Inpatient Care Services

The services offered here include:

Outpatient Care

Concise Recovery offers this option, which is ideal for patients if they have mild withdrawal and addiction symptoms or have already completed inpatient care for more intensive addictions first. You will have access to treatment sessions such as medical consultation, counseling, and individual and group therapy.

Addiction Therapy

Alcohol addiction therapy is a form of talk therapy, where a therapist in a group or individual settings helps patients learn coping skills for preventing relapse. You also learn how to maintain sobriety through support groups and AA counseling.


This is the final stage of treatment and can be challenging because the relapse rate is very high within the first year. Aftercare is the preventive measure to help members sustain a healthy life free from alcohol abuse after treatment ends.

Contact Us

Recovering from an alcohol usage disorder is challenging but achievable. All you have to do is begin treatment, get a robust support system, and you will be able to overcome alcohol addiction. No matter how severe your AUD is, there is a high chance for you in treatment at Concise Recovery, especially if you adhere to the 12 steps of recovery.