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What to Expect From Treatment Based on 12-Step Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, has existed for over 85 years. 12-Step programs serve as the foundation for many substance abuse treatment programs today. There are various ways to utilize the Twelve Steps depending on each individual’s needs. The steps can be adapted, revisited, or combined according to where a person is in their recovery process.

There are many stigmas and misinformation surrounding substance use disorders (SUDs), including 12-Step programs. Education and awareness are the best way to reduce stigma and promote compassionate understanding. Let’s take an in-depth look at the Twelve Steps established by AA and how they can benefit a person struggling with substance abuse.

12-Step Programs

The purpose of 12-Step programs is to help people develop skills and establish behavior that will help them recover from SUD. When a person is struggling with substance abuse, their behavior can be compulsive and detrimental to their lives. By working through a 12-Step program, they can restore predictability and begin to heal damaged parts of their lives.  

Step One

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”  Step One requires that you admit to yourself that your substance abuse has reached a point where you need help from others to confront it. 

Step Two

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  Step Two asks you to believe that you are part of something bigger than yourself and that there is a Higher Power that can guide you to change your behavior.

Step Three

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  Step three helps you consider what inspires you and drives you to maintain sobriety. It is admitting that you need a force beyond your own will to conquer your SUD.

Step Four

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”  In order to move forward in recovery, you will need to take a brutally honest look at yourself. You will need to examine your past behavior and how it has affected you and the people around you.

Step Five

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Step Five is commonly known as the confession step. You will speak honestly about your substance abuse and how you have harmed yourself and others.

Step Six

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”  Step Six helps you grow spiritually by trusting your Higher Power and your progress in recovery enough to release your character deficiencies and no longer be defined by them.

Step Seven

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”  Step Seven is about making a personal attitude change. It gives you the chance to accept your shortcomings and open yourself up in humility to your Higher Power.

Step Eight

Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”  Step Eight helps you begin the process of making amends to people you have harmed through your past behavior while using substances.

Step Nine

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” Step Nine encourages you to start healing relationships with your friends and loved ones by doing whatever is necessary to make up for any harm you caused them.

Step Ten

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” Step Ten helps you recognize problematic thoughts and feelings, especially when they might cause you to return to substance use.

Step Eleven

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” Step Eleven wants you to find your source of inspiration and be active in your awareness of how your Higher Power can help you find strength in recovery.

Step Twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Step Twelve is the last step and requires you to recognize the awakenings that you have had during the previous steps. It encourages you to continue to live the principles of the Twelve Steps and help others who are struggling with substance abuse. 

12-Step Programs and Malibu Wellness Ranch

At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we incorporate the principles of 12-Step programs into our individualized treatment programs. Along with individual therapy and life skills development, we have group sessions that specifically focus on Steps Ten and Twelve. 

In our Tenth Step group, we meet every night as a group to reflect on the day’s events. Clients will conduct a personal inventory of their honesty and openness with their peers and the ranch staff. Each individual has the opportunity to identify areas where they need to improve and recognize their achievements. 

Our 12-Step programming is also a nightly group that helps introduce our clients to the format of recovery meetings. Clients are also offered the opportunity to attend AA meetings outside of Malibu Wellness Ranch. We want our clients to be familiar with recovery programs that they might utilize once they have been discharged from our treatment program.


12-Step programs were first established by Alcoholics Anonymous and have quickly become the foundation for many different treatment programs. As an individual works through each individual step, they will learn to accept personal responsibility, surrender their will to a Higher Power, and begin the healing process. Through 12-Step programs, individuals can become empowered to make lasting changes in their lives. At Malibu Wellness Ranch, we recognize the value of the 12-Step approach and incorporate it into our daily treatment services. We have group sessions that specifically educate our clients about 12-Step meeting formats and philosophies. Call us at (800) 862-5428 to find out more about our unique 12-Step-based treatment program.