What are 12 Step groups

12 Steps Facilitation


2- What are 12 Step groups


This page provides facilitators with an overview of 12 Step groups to help them understand their purpose and how they are structured.


1. Objectives

2. Structure

3. Requirements to facilitate

4. Rules & criteria

5. Logistics


What are 12 Step groups


1- Objectives

  • 12 Step Groups are when a group of addicts gather together to work through the 12 Steps of a specific Fellowship with the guidance of facilitators. The objective is to systematically work the Steps in a manageable and organized way within a specific time frame. Experience has shown that as indispensable as the support of Fellowship meetings are, the way to recover is by working the 12 Steps. It is through the Steps that those of us who have suffered years or decades of painful addiction find the tools and the means to live a new way of life.
  • Conducted by facilitators with knowledge and experience of the 12 Steps, Groups offer an invaluable service for anyone trying to recover. They can be an alternative way to be guided through the Steps for those of us who cannot find a sponsor. They can be especially valuable for those of us who live in a foreign country, who due to language barriers don’t have the same access or choice of sponsors to guide them through the program.
  • Many of us addicts in recovery still find ourselves miserable. We have stopped using drugs, yet we are irritable and unsatisfied with our lives. Or we may have somehow managed to stop the drugs but have switched to another type of addiction that is making our life equally unmanageable. The main reason for this is that many of us do not have knowledge of the 12 Steps. We are not aware they provide us with the tools to live a new way of life. After all this is what the program promises us, a life that is beyond our wildest dreams. Joining a Step Study Group can be a solution. With the guidance of facilitators we are able to gain knowledge of the Steps and work them to experience all the gifts and miracles of recovery.
  • Working the Steps in a 12 Step Group is not as traditional as doing them one-to-one with a sponsor, but it is nevertheless highly effective. Above all, if our choice is between not working the Steps or doing them in such a group setting, then there is no question joining such a group can be beneficial to our recovery. If we want to experience a life free from addiction and are willing to go to any length to recover, then working our Steps in a 12 Step Group may the way especially for those of us who are limited in our choices because of our circumstances.



2- Structure

  • Step Study Groups are not a part of 12 Step Fellowships and should not be affiliated in any way to any Fellowship. They are independent groups made up of addicts who gather together with the specific purpose of working through the 12 Steps of a particular Fellowship in a systematic and time specific manner under the guidance of facilitators. 12 Step Group should not replace Fellowship meetings. In fact, participants study Groups are advised to increase the number of meetings they normally go to, because this will help them work and process the Steps better. We can use our 12 Step Group as a place to learn and work our 12 Steps but we need our Fellowship because it provides us with an indispensible support that is vital for our daily recovery.
  • 12 Step Groups do not assume themselves to be the “perfect” or the “only” way to work the 12 Steps. Rather they are part of the 12th step work of addicts in recovery, who acting as facilitators guide a group of people through the Steps of a specific Fellowship by sharing their experience of it.
  • Addicts interested in learning how to work the Steps of a specific Fellowship, join an according Step Study Group. For example if you primary addiction is with alcohol, then participating in a Step Study Group based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is the one that will benefit you. But, if your primary addiction is with food, then participating in such a group may not be as productive since the group will be focused on recovery from alcoholism. This is because each Fellowship identifies with a specific type of addition and offers the solution through its own interpretation of the 12 Steps. Having said this, you can benefit from participating in any type of Step Study Group so long as you focus on the solution- namely Steps two to twelve. This is because the 12 Steps are a set of spiritual principles and tools designed for recovery from the disease of addiction. They show us how to live a new way of life free from addiction and apart from Step 1, which focuses on a specific type of problem, the rest of the steps provide us with the means and the tools to live in peace and harmony with others, our God and ourselves.
  • 12 Step Groups are common in the West and within most 12 Step Fellowships. The concept has even extended to the Internet, where members register and make a commitment to work through their Steps together at regular intervals. You can easily join one of these online 12 Step Group though the majority are conducted in English.



3- Requirements to facilitate

Any recovering addict with experience in the Steps of a specific Fellowship can take on the challenge of facilitating a 12 Step Group. The concept of a facilitator is similar to that of a sponsor. The difference is that in a 12 Step Group a facilitator would be sharing their experience, strength and hope to a group of addicts – rather than to a single sponsee. Like a sponsor, facilitators have responsibilities towards their group participants, the main being a commitment to guiding them through the Steps and showing them the solution to the disease of addiction. Anyone interested in becoming a facilitator should be aware of what the role involves and the extent of the commitment required in taking on this challenge. Taking on this service without thinking through what it involves by way of responsibility and time commitment can be detrimental to the recovery of both you and your group participants.

Who can facilitate a 12 Step group:

1) An addict in recovery who has completed the 12 Steps of a specific Fellowship and has experience of how the Steps apply and have improved the quality of his or her daily life.

2) An addict in recovery who is organized and can commit to the responsibility of conducting a group of addicts through the 12 Steps.

3) An addict in recovery who can commit to the time duration of a 12 Step Group.



4- Rules & criteria

  • Unlike 12 Step Fellowship meetings, Step Study Groups are like a classroom where there are rules and criteria that group participants have to observe. In regular Fellowship meetings members gather to carry the message of recovery by sharing their experience, strength and hope with one another. But in Step Study Groups there are specific objectives that need to get implemented – namely systematically working through the 12 Steps of a specific Fellowship within a scheduled time frame.
  • Group participants interested to join in a Step Study Group need to be aware of its primary objective, and they need to register beforehand to attend such a group. Once the Step Study Group has started, others cannot join in at random. Also, regular attendance is expected and group participants may be dismissed if they continually miss sessions or disrupt the group’s progress. Those joining a Step Study Group must abide by its rules; they have to make a commitment with one another to work through their 12 Steps in this organized and structured fashion. They are asked to unite as a team and put in the work required that would help them complete the 12 Steps within a time frame.
  • Participating in a Step Study Group takes a lot of hard work and time. Anyone thinking of joining must have recovery as their number one priority. This means putting all life issues or problems aside for a while and focusing your time and energy towards learning and on working the 12 Steps. The greatest amount of time is spent on working Step 4, which usually takes 2 to 3 months, depending on the Steps of which Fellowship you are being guided through. When it comes to Step 5, participants who do not have a sponsor are asked to share it with another group member.  It is highly recommended for participants to have their own sponsors to work with as they go through the Step Study Group, since facilitators cannot act as individual sponsors for each participant. Facilitators merely act as “teachers” who guide participants through the Steps in a structured way.


Who can benefit from a 12 Step Group :

1) An addict who has a desire to learn and work the 12 Steps of a specific Fellowship.

2) An addict living abroad who has found it difficult to find a sponsor yet would like to work the 12 Steps.

3) An addict who — despite having a sponsor — wants to gain new knowledge of the 12 Steps and work through them in a group setting, benefiting from new experiences and perspectives

4) An addict who can work as a team member and commit to the time frame and the 12 Step Study Group’s objectives, rules and criteria’s.



5- Logistics

  • 12 Step Groups usually meet weekly for about one to two hours, depending on the size of the group. Sessions are generally held at an independent venue and not in someone’s home. Typically such groups lasts around 24 to 28 weeks — depending on the size of the group and the Steps of the Fellowship being worked on. Facilitators usually hand out a schedule spelling out what will be covered on a weekly basis and the duration of the course before a 12 Step Study Group starts.
  • There are no fees to participate in a 12 Step Group. In line with the principles of 12 Step Fellowship, these groups are simply another type of 12th Step service. Those who facilitate a 12 Step Group are members of a Fellowship who conduct a group as a way to carry the message to the still suffering addict and to maintain and enrich their own recovery. The only fee to be paid is the rent for the venue, which is usually collected at the beginning of each month and which everyone contributes to equally.

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