Overcoming Addiction: Combining AA’s 12-Step Program and CBT for Lasting Change

Addiction is a complex and chronic condition that affects millions of people around the world. It can cause severe physical, mental, and social problems for those who struggle with it and their loved ones. 

It’s important to keep in mind though, that addiction is not a hopeless situation. 

There are effective ways to overcome it and live a fulfilling and healthy life. One of these ways is to combine two of the most popular and proven methods of addiction recovery: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people change the negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their addiction. AA is a mutual support group that follows a 12-step program of spiritual and moral principles to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

In this article, you will learn how CBT and AA can help you or your loved one achieve a holistic and lasting recovery from addiction. Don’t wait any longer. Read on and discover how to transform their lives for the better.

The 12-Step Program: A Foundation for Overcoming Addiction

The program is a series of principles and instructions that were initially created to aid people in overcoming alcoholism. Since then, it has been modified, used to treat several addictions, and is the manual for many addiction treatment programs.

The 12 steps of AA include realizing one’s helplessness against overcoming addiction and turning to a higher power or a community for assistance. It also pushes people to take stock of one’s past actions, make apologies, and commit to continual self-improvement. 

Moreover, the emphasis on the spiritual and emotional aspects of addiction treatment is one of its main advantages. Hence, people can cultivate a sense of humility that can result in greater personal growth and healing by admitting their powerlessness over addiction and asking for help.

What Are The 12 Steps?

The 12 steps place a strong emphasis on the necessity of community and accountability for rehabilitation. Here are all the steps that you can take starting today.  

1. Acknowledge that you can’t control your addiction and that your life has gotten out of control.

2. Have faith that a Power outside of yourself can help you regain your sanity.

3. Decide to entrust God, as you perceive Him, with control of both your will and your life.

4. Conduct a thorough and unafraid moral inventory of oneself.

5. Admit your specific wrongdoings to God, to yourself, and another person.

6. Be completely open to having God purge you of all these character flaws.

7. Humbly implore Him to take away your flaws.

8. Think of all the people you have harmed and how you can make up for it. Apologize to them directly if you can, unless it hurts them or someone else more.

9. Directly apologize to such people whenever possible, unless doing so would endanger them or others.

10. Keep self-evaluating and admit your mistakes as soon as you do.

11. As you try to strengthen your conscious relationship with God via meditation and prayer, pray simply for the understanding of God’s will for you and the capacity to carry it out.

12. Try to share this message with other addicts and live by these ideals in all your dealings after finishing these steps and having a spiritual awakening as a result.

CBT: Changing Patterns of Thinking and Behavior

Changes in thought and behavior patterns that support overcoming addiction are the main goals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is in many ways a type of therapy. It is a practical and evidence-based approach that aids in the development of coping mechanisms for handling cravings and triggers.

CBT focuses on recognizing and combating harmful cognitive processes that might result in addictive behaviors. Replace the outdated ones, it also helps a person to learn fresh and constructive coping mechanisms. 

Focusing on the cognitive and behavioral components of addiction is one of CBT’s main advantages. People can escape the cycle of addiction and bring about long-lasting transformation by recognizing and challenging unhelpful thought patterns and by learning new, healthy coping mechanisms and behaviors.

Also, CBT is practical and easy to implement in daily life as it can be done in individual or group therapy sessions.

Combining the 12-Step Program and CBT for Lasting Change in Overcoming Addiction

The 12-step program and CBT both help people overcome addiction, but they work better together. By combining the 12-step program’s spiritual and emotional aspects with CBT’s cognitive and behavioral aspects, people can get a holistic approach to addiction rehabilitation that covers all areas of their lives.

To start, setting goals that are consistent with both CBT and the 12-step program is one method to mix the two. For instance, a goal might be to finish a CBT workbook or go to weekly CBT group sessions in addition to attending multiple AA meetings over a span of 2 weeks. 

Another way to combine the 12-step program and CBT is to use the 12-step principles to support CBT’s cognitive and behavioral changes. For example, steps 4 and 5 of the 12-step program involve examining past actions and making amends. These steps can help people identify and change their harmful thinking and behavior patterns through CBT.

In this manner, the 12-step program’s spiritual and emotional support could be combined with CBT to create new coping mechanisms and behaviors.


In conclusion, overcoming addiction is possible but only with the correct resources and assistance. People can create a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment that addresses every part of their lives by mixing the spiritual and emotional components of AA’s 12-step program with the cognitive and behavioral components of CBT. 

This can also help people to develop a holistic approach to addiction recovery that can help them escape the cycle of addiction and bring about a significant change in their lives by setting goals that are compatible with both approaches and utilizing the 12-step principles to support the cognitive and behavioral changes of CBT. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, take our advice and consider seeking support from a professional who can guide you through the process of combining these two lifesaving and effective approaches. 

Lifetick can support your recovery.