12 Step Programme

Anyone considering group therapy will want to know what it has to offer and how it can enhance recovery. However, it is not unusual to feel anxious about engaging with a group. Trepidation, or even fear, can be viewed as the “normal” response to participating in an activity with the potential for us to feel exposed within a group of strangers. It may be tempting to dismiss the group as merely a talking shop for other people’s distress, and while it may be reasonable to be skeptical, it is worth thinking about what group therapy has to offer the recovering person.

The 12-step method is not a therapeutic approach in and of itself, but instead was designed as a peer-support system that promotes abstinence from harmful substances and behaviours. The traditional model states that it is run “by addicts, for addicts”, however in modern times many rehabilitation-centres integrate the 12-step approach into their treatment under what is commonly referred to as the “Minnesota Model”.

This digression from the traditional tenants of the 12 steps allows for the participation of medical and clinical professionals in addiction treatment, as opposed to strictly utilising the system of peer-run meetings and the sponsor system. The 12-step model is named, appropriately, after the 12-steps that addicts ‘must’ take to overcome addiction and achieve sobriety. These steps are:

  1. Admit that you are powerless over your addiction, and your life has become unmanageable
  2. Believe in a higher power that can restore your sanity and provide strength for recovery
  3. Turn your will and life over to the care of this higher power
  4. Complete a ‘moral inventory’ of yourself, looking for areas of growth and change
  5. Admit your wrongdoings to yourself, your higher power, and another trusted person
  6. Be ready for your higher power to remove all your character defects and shortcomings
  7. Humbly ask your higher power to do remove all your character defects and shortcomings
  8. Make a list of all people who were harmed by your addiction
  9. Make direct amends to those individuals, except when doing so would harm them or others
  10. Continue to take a personal inventory of admitting when you are wrong or making mistakes
  11. Seek to improve your conscious contact with your higher power through prayer and meditation
  12. Use your new spiritual awakening to carry the message of 12-steps to others


Members use only their first names, and there is no record of who attends fellowship meetings. This provides a safe environment, where members can be confident that who they are and what they may reveal remains confidential. It can also help to reduce the stigma and feelings of shame associated with suffering from addiction.

Another important aspect of anonymity is the idea that irrespective of status or position in the world, in the fellowship, everyone is equal. Whether you come from the highest echelons of society or from the lowest of positions, everyone has an equal right to be there and an equal responsibility to participate and contribute to the process.


The idea of abstinence from all addictive activity is central to the 12-Step approach. It is based on the experience of addicted people finding themselves unable to control their use of substances or behaviours; often when attempts to try “controlled use” following a period of abstinence lead to relapse.

For those who have lost control, abstinence is probably the only viable option. In 12-Step recovery, addiction is not seen as “cured” or “removed” but an ever-present risk. Relapse is a very real threat for those suffering from addiction without a strategy for sustaining recovery.


The fellowships have devised a system of individual support and guidance through sponsorship. This involves an established member with a significant period of recovery making themselves available as a resource to newer members outside of formal meetings. This will involve helping them with day-to-day problems and to guide them through the individual steps of the program.

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