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What Kinds of 12-Step Meetings Are There?

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Therapy Group AA NA RehabVarious Types of 12-Step Recovery Groups

Addiction recovery is a serious, life-saving process, and overcoming substance addiction takes hard work, focus, and dedication. Having a support system of people who understand and can relate first-hand to what you are going through can be a huge help. Combine this with a specialized recovery plan, and your chances for success are multiplied many times over.

A 12-step program focused on your specific addiction can help you find and stay on the road to a better life. At Granite Recovery Centers, we work with our clients to determine the appropriate 12-step program best suited to their specific needs.


What Is a 12-Step Recovery Program?

Every person dealing with addiction has  a unique personality and set of life experiences. Any successful recovery process will need to take this truth into account. However, there are certain similarities among substance use disorders that, when addressed openly, create an atmosphere where  participants feel accepted and understood like nowhere else. They will feel that they are among like-minded individuals who are also working to overcome their addictions. Feeling comfortable enough to open up and talk about their own experiences, struggles, and successes is one of the most therapeutic kinds of treatment.

Most 12-step programs have “partner” programs aimed at helping the friends and family members of those struggling with addiction. These loved ones can find and provide support by sharing with others in the same situation. Along with helping them to understand and deal with what their loved one is going through, their participation in these programs gives the addicted individual added support. Knowing that they have people who love them enough to participate in a 12-step program themselves gives those in recovery the hope and strength needed to succeed.


What To Expect at a 12-Step Meeting

What exactly is a 12-step program? What do you have to do to take part in the meetings? While each group focuses on a specific type of addiction and recovery process, the goal is always to help the individual overcome their addiction. There are steps to each program that the group members agree to abide by. The most common of these steps, according to the American Psychological Association, include:

1. Admitting to having no control over their addiction
2. Accepting that a higher power of their own understanding and choosing cares for them and gives them strength
3. Working with an experienced member of the group, called a sponsor, to take an honest look at their past and acknowledge the mistakes they have made
4. Finding safe and effective ways to make up for these mistakes when and where they are able to do so safely
5. Taking an honest look at their life, identifying the changes they need to make, and taking the necessary steps to adopt a new way of behaving
6. When they feel ready, reaching out to help others who are struggling to overcome the same type of addiction issues that they themselves have experienced

By going through these steps, individuals can regain control over their lives and quit using harmful substances.


What Are the Different Types of-12 Step Programs?

Multiple groups are available to suit the needs of individuals with specific substance use issues. These are five of the most common.



AA was the first 12-step recovery program ever created. It was founded in Akron, Ohio, in 1935 by a stockbroker and a surgeon who had both struggled with alcoholism for many years. Together, they formed Alcoholics Anonymous, developing the framework of the program that would lay the foundation for several other recovery programs to be developed in the future.
The 12 steps that were formulated to help recovering alcoholics are still the basis of the programs today. They include the following:

  1. Members admitted that they were powerless over alcohol and their lives had become unmanageable.
  2. They came to believe that a power greater than themselves could restore their sanity.
  3. They made the decision to turn their will and lives over to the care of God as they understood Him.
  4. They made a  moral inventory of themselves.
  5. They admitted to God, to themselves, and to another human being the exact nature of their wrongs.
  6. They were entirely ready to have God remove all their defects.
  7. They humbly asked God to remove their shortcomings.
  8. They made a list of persons they had harmed and became willing to make amends with them all.
  9. They made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. They continued to take personal inventory and, when wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. They sought through prayer and meditation to improve conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for them and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, they tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all their affairs.

AA members works through each of these steps in order, at the pace that will be most beneficial to them. As with all the 12-step based recovery programs, nothing is rushed, and no one is ever forced to move forward to the next step until they are ready to do so.



NA stands for Narcotics Anonymous. This group was founded in Los Angeles, California, in 1953. The program described itself as a nonprofit society or fellowship of men and women who had developed a serious problem with drugs. The program also welcomes members who are addicted to alcohol.
With regards to the 12 steps themselves, the only difference between NA and AA is that where the word “alcohol” is used in the AA steps, NA replaces it with the word “addiction.”



CA stands for Cocaine Anonymous. The program was founded in 1982 in Hollywood, California. The founder recognized the need for this specific group because he found that if he went to an AA meeting and tried to talk about drug addiction, he was asked to leave. He was part of a group called the Motion Picture Health and Welfare Fund in Hollywood, so he had seen firsthand the havoc that cocaine addiction could wreak on lives, and he wanted to find a way to help those struggling with this addiction.



HA stands for Heroin Anonymous. HA was founded in 2004 by two recovering heroin users. While there were AA and NA, there was no specific group  for people experiencing problems with heroin. This led to the formation of Heroin Anonymous by the two founders, who secured a meeting place and then passed out flyers to people  in other 12-step programs who were struggling specifically with heroin use disorder.



MA stands for Marijuana Anonymous. MA was founded in 1989. Unlike the other 12-step groups, Marijuana Anonymous wasn’t founded by one or two individuals but rather by several small groups in California that had come together to address marijuana addiction and the unique types of issues this substance use disorder presented in relation to other types of addictions. The concept of MA quickly spread across the country. This group was the first to offer telephone and online meetings to accommodate addicted individuals who were unable to attend meetings in person.
Understanding the history and groundwork that went into the creation of each of the various 12-step support groups is essential so that a person working toward recovery will know that these groups came into being because of others who were struggling with the same types of addictions and found ways to overcome them. Professional treatment is essential to recovery, but having the support of individuals who have already walked the path that you are now embarking can make all the difference. Having the input and advice from someone who has been there can be incredibly helpful.


How Common Are 12-Step Programs?

Millions of people belong to 12-step programs worldwide. Some meetings are open to the public, and some are closed. Some meetings allow loved ones and friends of members to attend. Regardless of the type of meeting and who is permitted to attend, all meetings are completely confidential. Anything shared in a meeting stays within the room. The attendance and success of these groups have both grown exponentially over the years. While some skeptics say there is no evidence that a 12-step recovery group is instrumental in the recovery process, untold numbers of former and recovering addicts who have participated attest to the benefits of these programs.

These groups do not provide any type of professional therapy or counseling. They provide support in the form of peer fellowship for recovering users. Most meetings last for one to one and a half hours, and in most areas, it is possible to find a meeting taking place daily or weekly to provide ongoing support.

Participation in a 12-step program is recommended following completion of a rehab program. However, participation in a rehab program is not required  for attending a 12-step program. Anyone who is struggling with addiction can attend meetings.

As a means of helping members become comfortable and learn to socialize, these groups often hold special events such as dinners and dances for those in recovery. This encourages integration back into society as well as recreational activities for those whose battle with addiction has kept them isolated.


Working With a Sponsor

Involvement with a sponsor within the group is an important step in the recovery process. A sponsor acts as a type of mentor to listen, advise, and guide the struggling individual. A sponsor will hold the addicted person accountable, share their own experiences, and provide support on a personal, one-on-one basis.

A recovering user’s mental health also benefits from these groups. Learning to share one’s personal experiences becomes easier in the company of others who have lived through similar difficulties. This builds a level of trust and camaraderie that sometimes  isn’t attainable in a more structured, professional type of setting. It goes hand in hand with the tools that are learned in a more formal treatment program. It is this kind of comprehensive approach that leads to successful recovery and a future free from addiction.


Granite Recovery Centers Treat the Whole Individual

At Granite Recovery Centers, we work with each client to develop a specialized treatment plan based on their individual needs. The 12-step programs are encouraged and are a significant part of the recovery process. The 12-step meetings themselves are not rehab programs; they are free, volunteer-run support groups aimed at specific addictions and the challenges that substance abuse presents. When this type of peer support is combined with the professional treatment services we provide,  clients can have a comprehensive recovery experience with an exceptional success rate.

A person in rehab treatment at Granite Recovery Centers can look forward to a holistic treatment aimed at meeting their own specific needs. They will learn to recognize the triggers that lead them to substance use and ways to avoid them. A 12-step program provides them with a support network that they can depend on when those triggers rear their ugly heads. Individuals in recovery no longer need to fear fighting their addiction alone. They can share their experiences and struggles with others; receive encouragement, support, and strength; and provide the same to their peers in the group.


Contact Granite Recovery Centers Today

At Granite Recovery Centers, we understand that there is no single formula for successfully overcoming drug addiction. Success comes when the client can fully acknowledge and share what they are dealing with while being receptive to new ideas, suggestions, and advice for moving forward in a way that is sustainable. Having people outside the recovery center to reach out to more casually when they have questions or just need to talk is an essential part of what will become their new routine of sober living.

No matter what you’re struggling with, we’re here to connect you with helpful resources. Reach out to us today.