The twelve-step recovery model of Alcoholics Anonymous

AA logo 2 The twelve-step recovery model of AA: a voluntary mutual help association

Alcoholism treatment has evolved to mean professionalized, scientifically based rehabilitation.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is not a treatment method; it is far better understood as a Twelve-Step Recovery Program within a voluntary self-help/mutual aid organization of self-defined alcoholics.

The Twelve-Step Recovery Model is elaborated in three sections, patterned on the AA logo (a triangle within a circle): The triangle’s legs represent recovery, service, and unity;

  • The circle represents the reinforcing effect of the three legs upon each other as well as the "technology" of the sharing circle and the fellowship.
  • The first leg of the triangle, recovery, refers to the journey of individuals to abstinence and a new "way of living."
  • The second leg, service, refers to helping other alcoholics which also connects the participants into a fellowship.
  • The third leg, unity, refers to the fellowship of recovering alcoholics, their groups, and organizations.

The distinctive AA organizational structure of an inverted pyramid is one in which the members in autonomous local groups direct input to the national service bodies creating a democratic, egalitarian organization maximizing recovery.

Analysts describe the AA recovery program as complex, implicitly grounded in sound psychological principles, and more sophisticated than is typically understood.

AA provides a nonmedicalized and anonymous "way of living" in the community and should probably be referred to as the Twelve-Step/Twelve Tradition Recovery Model in order to clearly differentiate it from professionally based twelve-step treatments.

From; Borkman T. The twelve-step recovery model of AA: a voluntary mutual help association. Recent Dev Alcohol. 2008;18:9-35.

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2 thoughts on “The twelve-step recovery model of Alcoholics Anonymous

  1. Pingback: Alcohol Treatment Blogg

  2. Fred…. I practice the 12 steps.

    The AA Symbol is finally revealing its meaning to me in a very real way.

    I volounteered to help organize a round-up this year. The amount of recovery I feel I gained by the service aspect of this endevour is amazing. I feel propelled forward.

    The unity aspect (another leg of the triangle) also was enhanced incredibly by my participation and attendance in the round up. I got to know some people so much better than I had in the past few years of meeting attendance and serivice.

    I feel far more “centre of the table” as it is put. I strongly believe my recovery became more solid as a result of these two components.

    One might say that the two legs of the triangle strengthened the third. Thats how it feels anyway.




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