Are 12-Step Programs Like AA & NA Effective?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on December 11, 2022

Many Ohio residents attend 12-step programs. These programs serve as support groups for people recovering from addiction. Members learn specific steps that can help them build healthy, sober lives. According to research, 12-step programs in Ohio are highly effective for most people.

Thousands of people in Ohio live with alcohol or drug addiction (also called substance use disorder). Many of them seek help at 12-step programs. Here’s what you should know about these programs and their effectiveness. 

12-Step Programs In Ohio

Developed in the 1930s, 12-step programs are support groups for people recovering from addiction. The first 12-step group, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), was designed for people recovering from alcohol addiction (also called alcohol use disorder). 

You can find AA meetings all over Ohio. The state also has 12-step groups for people addicted to other drugs, including:

  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous
  • Heroin Anonymous
  • Marijuana Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous

How 12-Step Meetings Work

At each 12-step meeting, members share their recovery experiences. They also discuss the 12 steps of recovery. These steps, which originally appeared in a text known as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, are as follows:

  1. Admit powerlessness over drugs
  2. Believe a higher power can restore you to sanity
  3. Turn your will and life over to your higher power
  4. Make a moral inventory of yourself
  5. Admit the exact nature of your character defects
  6. Become ready to have your higher power remove your character defects
  7. Ask your higher power to remove your character defects
  8. Make a list of people harmed by your addiction
  9. Make amends to those people wherever possible and safe
  10. Continue to take personal inventory and admit when you are wrong
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to improve your conscious contact with your higher power
  12. Share the 12 steps with other people affected by addiction

How Effective Are 12-Step Programs In Ohio?

Research suggests that 12-step programs are highly effective in treating addiction among Ohioans. 

AA Paves The Way Toward Sobriety

According to an analysis conducted by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, Alcoholics Anonymous is the most effective path toward sobriety. 

The researchers examined 35 studies of people who attended AA meetings. They found that AA was almost always more effective than psychotherapy and other interventions. In one study, AA was 60% more effective. 

AA Comparable To Other Interventions

Some of the studies found that AA was just as effective as other interventions. However, none of them found it less effective. These findings were consistent across all genders and age groups. 

The analysis focused only on AA and not on other 12-step programs. However, since the other programs are based on AA, they are likely just as effective.

The 12-Steps & Other Treatment Services

Some studies suggest that 12-step programs are even more effective when used alongside other substance abuse treatment options, such as:

  • medical detox, in which doctors help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you stop using drugs
  • cognitive behavioral therapy, in which a behavioral health professional helps you change unhealthy beliefs and behaviors related to drug use 
  • motivational interviewing, in which a behavioral health professional helps you become more motivated to recover from addiction
  • medication-assisted treatment, in which doctors prescribe medications to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol and opioid addiction

Along with helping you recover from addiction, 12-step meetings can save you money. That’s because they’re free. One study showed that the meetings decreased mental health costs by $10,000 per person. 

Why Are 12-Step Programs Effective?

The 12-step model provides some unique benefits not found in other addiction treatment options.

Supportive Environment

12-step meetings offer a supportive environment where you can discuss your experiences with people who have faced similar challenges. You can also learn helpful coping tips from more experienced group members. 

This type of support can play a significant role in your long-term recovery. 


In addition, 12-step meetings are highly accessible. You can find them all over Ohio, including addiction treatment facilities. Some treatment centers in Ohio also provide 12-step facilitation therapy. This type of therapy introduces

 people to the principles of 12-step recovery so they feel more prepared to attend 12-step meetings. 

Are 12-Step Programs Effective For Everyone?

Not all Ohioans will find 12-step treatment effective. Some may deem it too spiritual, as it asks you to seek help from a “higher power.” Research suggests that spiritual people may be less likely to attend or keep attending 12-step meetings. 

Also, some people feel uncomfortable at 12-step meetings due to cultural differences, social anxiety, or other personal factors. These individuals may want to focus on other addiction treatment options.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our behavioral healthcare providers offer a variety of inpatient treatment options, including medical detox, mental health counseling, and aftercare planning.

  1. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) — 12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview
  2. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) — Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs for alcohol use disorder
  3. Stanford Medicine — Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence
  4. United States Department of Veterans Affairs — Outcome Research on 12-Step and Other Self-Help Programs

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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