United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Mental Health

Self-Help Toolkit: 12-Step Programs

 
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12-Step Programs
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12-Step Programs are based on the principles for recovery from addiction developed by the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for recovery from alcoholism, a group founded by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith in 1935. Members of 12-Step Programs work the 12 Steps which involves admitting one is powerless over one's addiction, recognizing a greater power, examining past errors, making amends for these errors, learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior, and helping others with the same addiction. Twelve-step groups also have Twelve Traditions that guide group structural governance.

12-Step Group Descriptions & Web Links
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (AA Online Intergroup)- a fellowship for men and women with alcoholism who share their experiences. Their goal is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety. Membership requirement: desire to stop drinking.

  • Adult children of Alcoholics - a fellowship for men and women who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes. Members meet to share experiences and to learn how their childhood affected them in the past and currently affects them. Aims to arrest the emotional disease of family alcoholism.

  • Al-Anon Family Groups- a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who meet to share experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. Believes alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery. Is based on the 12-Steps and Twelve Traditions of AA. Membership requirement: To have been affected by someone else's drinking.

  • Cocaine Anonymous- a fellowship of addicts who want to stop using cocaine or other mind-altering substances and who meet to share experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. Aim is to stay free from cocaine and other drugs and to help others to recover from their addiction.

  • Crystal Meth Anonymous - a fellowship of men and women addicts who share experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems and help others to recover from addiction to crystal meth. Primary aim is to lead a sober life and to communicate the message of recovery to other crystal meth addicts. Membership requirement: A desire to stop using crystal meth.

  • Dual Recovery Anonymous - a fellowship of men and women with a dual diagnosis, i.e., a chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. Aim is to help members recover by focusing on relapse prevention and improvements in quality of life. Members learn to avoid risks for alcohol and drug use and how to decrease symptoms of emotional and psychiatric illness. Membership requirements: a desire to stop using alcohol or drugs and a desire to manage emotional and psychiatric illness.

  • Marijuana Anonymous- a fellowship of men and women who desire to stop using marijuana and who share experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems and help others to recover from marijuana addiction. Primary aim is to stay free of marijuana and to help other addicts do the same. Membership requirement: A desire to stop using marijuana.

  • Narcotics Anonymous -An international, community-based association of recovering drug addicts that is open to all addicts regardless of drug or combination of drugs used. Members are encouraged to completely abstain from all drugs including alcohol. Taking psychiatric and medical medications that are prescribed and supervised by a physician is not seen as compromising recovery.

  • Gamblers Anonymous -a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems and help others to recover from a gambling problem. The primary aim is to stop gambling and to help others stop gambling. Membership requirement: A desire to stop gambling.