The term “12 steps” refers to the core principles of the approach to addiction exemplified by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar groups. The 12 steps are a set of guidelines designed to help individuals overcome addiction and rebuild their lives. They were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, and were initially workshopped in the early meetings of AA.
The 12 steps received mass exposure in “The Big Book of AA,” published in 1939, and have since been adopted by many groups and used in other 12 step programs and in rehab centers worldwide. Each step of the 12-step program serves a specific purpose in helping addicts recover from addiction.
The steps build on each other and encourage individuals to develop specific characteristics which facilitate recovery. The first step is to admit that one is powerless over alcohol or the addictive behavior and that their life has become unmanageable. The steps progress to encourage individuals to take a fearless moral inventory of themselves, make amends for harm caused, and continue to take personal inventory and make changes as needed. The final step is to have a spiritual awakening and carry the message of recovery to others.