12-Step therapy

When we’re in the depths of addiction, it can feel as though we’re stuck in a maze, helplessly searching for a way out, and whenever we take a step forward, we’re likely to hit a dead end, which can make us feel defeated. Fortunately, the 12-Step programme works by shining a stark light on addiction and, in doing so, revealing a safe and clear trail away from the illness.

This page looks at the origins of the 12-Steps to recovery, in what way it’s been adapted in contemporary society and how Sanctuary Lodge incorporates the 12-Step method in its recovery programmes.

12 step therapy session

The origins of 12-Step programme

Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935, originally developed the 12 Steps method, which worked as a guideline that their members could follow to heal from alcohol addiction. The concept was so successful that Alcoholics Anonymous became renowned for its ability to truly help people recover from addiction. At the time, and indeed still today, medical professionals advocated the 12-Step programme as a successful treatment for alcoholism, drug addiction, behavioural addiction and other mental health disorders.

What are the 12-Steps?

Trusting hands

The 12 principles differ slightly, but they all work to instil a sense of purpose and direction, allowing people to embark on a successful recovery.

While each step will have specific instructions, we have simplified them in the table below to illustrate what the core of each step entails. Although every person’s experience with the 12-Step model will be unique, we can use the below examples as a general guide:

  • Acceptance: I understand that I have an addiction. I accept that this is an illness, and it’s out of my control.
  • Trust: I know that willpower alone will not be enough to break free from this illness. Therefore, I trust that a power – greater than myself – can help me recover from addiction and restore me to optimum mental and physical health.
  • Liberation: I embrace and ask for support from my “higher power”, family, friends and support group.
  • Understanding: I identify some of my problems and look carefully at how my behaviour impacts those close to me.
  • Acknowledgement: I accept that I am human; I have flaws, and I commit to working on my flaws (the things I can change).
  • Freedom: I am letting go of the destructive traits that contribute to my behaviour.
  • Growth: I practice humility by asking my “higher power” for help and guidance on my journey.
  • Reflection: I look back on my mistakes and am willing to make amends to the people I may have hurt while coping with addiction.
  • Forgiveness: I ask forgiveness from those who have been affected by my addiction. I ask forgiveness from myself.
  • Continuity: I ensure I am making progress in my recovery by constantly reflecting on my journey.
  • Connection: Addiction is not my life. I have a purpose and am willing to find my purpose / passion and live it fully.
  • Helping others: I will help others, especially those struggling with addiction, by sharing my experience and passing on the message that recovery is achievable.

Take each step at a time

Many of our previous clients agree that steps four, five and nine (understanding, acknowledgement and asking for forgiveness) are the most challenging steps of the programme. These steps aim to address our flaws and accept our mistakes.

It’s human nature to feel uncomfortable when revealing our vulnerabilities or taking responsibility for actions we may not be proud of. But holding these things deep inside is why we keep drinking or using in the first place. These steps are crucial to recovery as they allow us to vocally release all the emotional weight we’ve been carrying. Such steps lead us toward a more fulfilling place, as it shows addiction that it no longer has a hold over us – giving us a great sense of liberation.

“Step nine (forgiveness) is one of the most rewarding steps and at the same time, the scariest step. Addiction causes a lot of resentment and negative feelings. But, once you’ve found the courage to make amends with those whom may have been hurt by your addiction, both parties can heal and move forward with their lives. This allows you to let go of the past and move forward with your life. I couldn’t have found the power to achieve this without the 12-Step process.”
James, UKAT admissions team

The 12-Step programme at Sanctuary Lodge

Therapist notes

Sanctuary Lodge gives clients a solid introduction to the 12-Step programme which they can continue to utilise long after they leave rehab. Those who complete a more extended course will have the opportunity to be taken through the programme further. The 12-Step method is recommended to anyone suffering from addictive tendencies as it promotes abstinence from all types of addiction.

We incorporate the 12-Steps to recovery with integrative addiction counselling methods such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and holistic treatments. These robust methodologies create a unique and contemporary addiction treatment programme that enables all-around physical and mental healing.

The structure and intensity of these programmes are intended to replace the demanding nature of addiction. Clients are encouraged to redirect their attention away from previously self-defeating, destructive thoughts and behaviours and apply all their energy to nurturing a healthier and more positive lifestyle for themselves.

If you want to know more about the 12-Step programme or our advanced addiction recovery treatments, give us a call today. A member of our admissions team will be happy to go through any questions you may have.

Frequently asked questions

Is the 12-Step programme religious?
Although the 12-Step programme was initially created on the premise of religion, it is by no means focused on a specific belief. Instead, it encourages you to find something that gives you strength to overcome addiction. Many people experience feelings of personal empowerment after following the 12-Step therapy.
What is a “higher power?”
A higher power can be anything that strikes a chord with you. Some people choose to make their faith their higher power, whilst others may choose anything that embodies feelings of power such as the universe, the ocean or more abstract concepts like music, art, etc. However, it’s important not to feel pressured by the choices of other clients in your rehab centre. If you’re struggling to define your higher power, give it some time. It’s ok if it doesn’t come to you immediately; your higher power may reveal itself to you as you become more aligned in your recovery.
Can I continue with the 12-Steps after rehab?
The end of treatment does not mean the end of your 12-Step programme. The purpose of the 12-Steps is to provide a stable framework to help maintain abstinence and lead a good standard of living for years to come. You will be advised to attend AA/CA/NA meetings after rehab, where you can continue to practice the 12-Steps with others in recovery.
How long does the 12-Step programme take?
Once you’ve been introduced to the 12-Step method, you are free to continue using it at your own pace. This looks different for everybody; some people complete the programme within a year, whilst others take years to complete just half of it. It really doesn’t matter, so long as you’re working on your steps and it’s benefiting you and your recovery.
close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 811 7325