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12 Step Groups Defined

The 12 Step groups are the best known of the recovery support groups. Based on Alcoholics Anonymous, addicts attend support meetings where, one way or another, the 12 Steps are discussed. Those committed to recovery adopt the ideas that by them selves, addicts are powerless over their addiction, and that by working the 12 Steps their addiction can be arrested.

There are literally dozens of 12 Step Groups. The best known are probably Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), but almost every popular addictive drug also has its own group, including Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, etc. There are often subsets of these groups, like women only, gay and lesbian, men only, etc.

All of them use Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps, substituting the words alcohol and alcoholism for the drug they are dealing with.

Membership in 12 Step groups is informal. The only requirement is a desire to stop using the addictive drug and a member becomes a member simply by expressing this desire. There are no membership records kept. A key principal for 12 Steps group is anonymity for members. People can attend without fear that their addiction will be revealed to anyone outside the group. There are no costs associated with membership in a 12 Step group although the groups do accept voluntary contributions to meet their expenses.
Meetings range from small groups of two or three members to groups in large metropolitan areas that claim 500 members or more. The style of meetings ranges from speaker meetings, where one or two people share their stories from a podium, to discussion and step studies, which invite participation from those present.

Meeting schedules and directions to meetings can be found on the web. In many communities, 12 step groups are also listed in the white pages of the telephone book, usually listed by the name of the substance they address.

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