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12 Step Program, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, The 12 Steps, The 12 Traditions & Dealing With Substance Abuse

What is a 12 Step Program?

The 12 Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous to establish guidelines to overcome alcohol addiction. The program gained enough success in its early years for other addiction support groups to adapt the steps to their own needs.

Although the 12 Steps are based on spiritual principles, many non-religious people have found the program immensely helpful. The language emphasizes the presence of God as each participant understands God, allowing for different interpretations and religious beliefs.

12 Step Program: Al-Anon And Nar-Anon

Nar-Anon is a 12 step program designed to assist individuals with issues of drug addiction with relatives or friends. Nar-Anon is not a religious organization but emphasizes a spiritual way of life and the help of a superior force that everyone understands. Al-Anon is a worldwide treatment service for the family and friends of people suffering from alcohol that offers a treatment program for addiction recovery. A narcotic addict’s friend or family member can go to a Nar-Anon meeting for help and advice. Likewise, if someone has a loved one who has problems with alcohol use, Al-Anon meetings may take place.

12 Step Program: Different Types Of Al-Anon And Nar-Anon Meetings

There are various types of Nar-Anon meetings: One or more speakers will discuss their personal experiences in detail during a lecture meeting. There are also step-by-step meetings to study the 12 steps more thoroughly. Finally, a starting meeting is more aimed at newcomers.

12 Step Program
The 12 Steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous to establish guidelines to overcome alcohol addiction.

A business meeting will include business discussions. Group awareness meetings offer an introspective look at Nar-general Anon’s health. They are often planned after group members fill out a survey noting what is going well and improved.  Any changes to existing treatment programs or the introduction of new ones would be discussed in a conscious group setting.

Al-Anon provides a variety of meetings for family members and friends of alcoholics to attend. Meetings for newcomers, men, women, literature, parents, and more include meetings. It is advised, that at least six or more types of group meetings should be tried to make sure that every Al-Anon meeting has a unique flavor and sense.

12 Step Program: The Main Difference Between Al-Anon And Nar-Anon

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was established in 1935 to stay sober and help others achieve sobriety. By the 1950s, the step-step support program was popular globally. As AA focused on alcohol rather than drug addiction, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) was founded in 1953 to fill the gap. NA is also modeled on the 12-step approach. In addition, however, it supports its members in their goals to stop using either drugs or alcohol.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon were founded to assist family and friends of people who struggle with substance use disorders. Al-Anon, which is affiliated with AA, was established to help family members and friends of alcoholics. Nar-Anon was founded to support those who care about someone who has an alcohol or drug problem.

12 Step Program: The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Because recovery is a lifelong process, there’s no wrong way to approach the 12 Steps as the participant tries to figure out what works best for their individual needs. Most participants find that as they grow in their recovery they will need to revisit some steps or even tackle more than one step at a time. Steps 1, 2, and 3 are considered the foundation of a 12 step program and are recommended to be practiced daily.

Here are the 12 Steps as defined by Alcoholics Anonymous:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.
12 Step Program
Because recovery is a lifelong process, there’s no wrong way to approach the 12 Steps as the participant tries to figure out what works best for their individual needs.

12 Step Program: The 12 Traditions

The 12 Traditions speak to the members of Alcoholics Anonymous as a group, unlike the 12 Steps, which are focused on the individual. The traditions are defined in the Big Book, the main governing literature of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most 12-Step groups have also adapted the 12 traditions for their recovery plans.

Here are the 12 traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
  2. For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority–a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
  3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. An AA group ought never to endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
  7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. AA, as such, ought never to be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never to be drawn into public controversy.
  11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities

12 Step Program: Does The Model Work?

Because of the anonymity of the program and the lack of formal research available, it’s hard to tell just how effective the 12 step model is. However, the prominence of this type of treatment, as well as success stories from recovering addicts, suggest it is effective.

At the very least, the 12 step model provides support, encouragement, and accountability for people who genuinely want to overcome their addiction. The sponsorship model as well as regular meeting times encourage the kind of social support that has helped countless people stay clean.

12 Step Program: Benefits Of Al-Anon And Nar-Anon For Families

Members of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon benefit from meeting other individuals and families who have struggled with alcoholism or drug addiction. While each person is unique, members of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon family groups have common and understandable problems. Members of both groups may connect with others who have had similar experiences. Additionally, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings are located across the country, making admission to the organizations simple.

12 Step Program: What To Expect In Al-Anon And Nar-Anon Meetings

Attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon group meetings may be precisely what you need to bring closure to a loved one’s situation. At first, it may feel awkward to be welcomed into these mutual support networks to discuss your loved one’s addiction. However, most people find that connecting with other families who have been through similar situations can be beneficial.

Addiction tends to isolate its victims. However, hearing other people’s stories and experiences with pain and healing can empower you. Once you feel secure enough, you can share your story and inspire others at Nar-Anon and Al-Anon family group meetings.

Your story may assist a family similar to yours in coping with the same emotions you did. So many people are affected by addiction, and there is no shame in seeking help or speaking out. Obtaining some sense of tranquility can assist anyone in recovering from an alcohol or drug use problem.

12 Step Program
Attending Al-Anon or Nar-Anon group meetings may be precisely what you need to bring closure to a loved one’s situation.

12 Step Program: Dealing with a loved one’s substance addiction

There is no easy way to deal with a loved one’s drug or alcohol addiction. You may feel guilty for allowing them to become involved with drugs or alcohol. You may be filled with regret for not getting involved sooner. You may be perplexed as to why your friend or family member refuses to sober up despite your best efforts. Each friend and family member struggles in their unique way with drug and alcohol addiction.

However, you are not to blame for your loved one’s addiction. You are not responsible for the habits that have formed. Many individuals who abuse alcohol and drugs deal with an underlying problem, such as depression or trauma. What is essential is getting assistance and beginning the healing process.

Attending Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings can educate you about addiction as a disease and the recovery options available to you and your family. While it is natural to be at a loss to deal with a loved one’s substance use issues, joining a support group such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon can be highly beneficial.

Reclaim your life with a 12 Step Program

Substance Addiction is a serious condition that can cause severe health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up dual diagnosis rehab Washington can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from addiction with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] We Level Up Treatment Center – Al-Anon and Nar-Anon

[2] Donovan, D. M., Ingalsbe, M. H., Benbow, J., & Daley, D. C. (2013). 12-step interventions and mutual support programs for substance use disorders: an overview. Social work in public health28(3-4), 313–332. (