12-Step Groups

12-Step groups are a form of group therapy, based on the spiritual, emotional and personal development program created by Alcoholics Anonymous for recovering addicts. The program uses a combination of peer support and peer pressure to get you to stop the self-destructive addictive behaviors that are ruining your relationships and your life, while you work in the group on the deeper emotional and spiritual issues that underlie these behaviors.

There are groups for virtually every type of neurosis: Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, mental illness recovery, and general personal development groups based on the 12-step program. The really powerful thing about 12-step groups is that everyone, including the group facilitators who are themselves recovering addicts, can relate to what you're going through.


  • The purpose of the group is usually well defined, based on the particular addiction

  • Other people really understand what you're going through

  • Encourages extremely honest sharing

  • Widespread and easy to find

  • Very inexpensive

  • Good peer support

  • Offers a spiritual path in addition to emotional healing


  • You end up hanging around with other people with the same problem or dysfunction

  • Once-an-addict always-an-addict philosophy can prevent full recovery

  • You tend to see everything as an addiction, even normal behavior

  • Not everyone can stomach the idea of a higher power

  • You can become addicted to the group process

  • Leaving the group and moving on can be difficult
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By Graham Stoney, ago