When most peoples imagine 12 Step Programs, they think of a group of depressed, somewhat disheveled alcoholics or addicts sitting on hard chairs, positioned in a circle, in a church basement somewhere. They imagine Bubbles from The Wire being there talking about how the drawback to drugs is just too much, and they picture shaking hands and gulping down coffee at an alarming rate.
This image of 12 Step Programs however could not be further from the truth and many people are surprised when they first attend one of the many fellowships available and discover that it is not depressing in any manner and the people present are just like them. They are people from all walks of life, with many different stories, but what is common among them is that they have sought services, found a solution to their problem, and are trying to become better people.
A mere 80 years ago there were no 12 Steps. People who suffered from alcoholism, addiction, or one of the many other maladies that have a 12 Step Program were forced to get sober through psychotherapy or the church and if they were incapable of doing so, they were relegated to a life lived out in a sanitarium. The chances of recovery were slim to none and so with the advent of the 12 Steps, the way that we have gone about treating people with such maladies have completely changed.
Currently there are hundreds of different 12 Step Programs, ranging from help for Alcoholics to people who can’t seem to get out relationships. While all of these fellowships are based on the original 12 Steps that came out of Alcoholics Anonymous, they all bring a specialty and focus on whatever specific issue the group is based on. Below is a list of the some the largest and most well known 12 Step Programs in the world today.
12 Step Fellowships for Different Addictions
Alcoholics Anonymous’ focus is on alcoholism and people who suffer from this disease. AA, as it is known throughout the world, was the first 12 Step fellowship and it got its start in 1935, when its co-founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith met out in Akron, Ohio. Since then the fellowship has grown and it can be found in over 170 countries and boasts an incredible 2 million members.
Narcotics Anonymous was founded in 1953 in California. It got its start because a small group of addicts within Alcoholics Anonymous wanted to make a group that focused more on drug addiction rather than just alcoholism. These pioneers of the group found being able to talk about their specific drug of choice particularly useful in their recovery and the fellowship has grown immensely since its inception. Narcotics Anonymous meetings can be found in almost every city in the US and throughout the world and has helped millions of people overcome their addiction to drugs.
Al-Anon was officially founded in 1951, but its inception really began back in the 30s when wives of alcoholics would meet with Bill Wilson’s wife, Lois, in their kitchen during AA meetings. Al-Anon is specifically for people who have a loved one who suffers from alcoholism or addiction and it uses the 12 Steps in order to help them overcome their attachments.
Alateen is an Al-Anon offshoot that is directed at teenagers. These teens usually have parent’s who suffer from alcoholism or drug addiction.
Cocaine Anonymous is one of the largest of the 12 Step based fellowships that focus on specific drugs. Cocaine Anonymous got its start in 1982 and they use the book Alcoholics Anonymous in their meetings and their program.
Gamblers Anonymous is a 12 Step fellowship for people who have an addiction to gambling. Gambling can be a huge problem from people who suffer from this form of addiction and they can sometimes loose everything over their compulsion to gamble. Careers have been lost, families destroyed, and possession lost, all due to compulsive gambling. It is estimated that over 1 millions Americans suffer from some form of gambling addiction and Gamblers Anonymous is a great place to get free from this addiction.
Overeaters Anonymous is a 12 Step fellows that focuses on problems with food, such as food addiction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, over exercising, or overeating. Overeaters Anonymous has been around since 1960 and OA meetings can be found in over 80 countries. It has an estimated membership of 54,000 and it has helped innumerable people regain control of their eating habits.
Sex Addicts Anonymous
Sex Addicts Anonymous was founded in 1977 in order to help those who had an addiction to sexual behavior. Unlike other 12 Step based programs Sex Addicts Anonymous does not require abstinence from the addiction, meaning celibacy, in order for recovery to take place. They merely want members to create their own ideal of what sexual sobriety means and in turn create healthy sexual behaviors.
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Adult Children of Alcoholics was founded in 1973 in Long Island, New York. It is different from Al-Anon or Alateen because it focuses on helping individuals recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic household. There are estimated to be 40,000 members in Adult Children of Alcoholics and there are meetings available through the world.