Sun and daisies

Our approach to treatment with the 12 Steps

Addiction treatment at Broadway Lodge is abstinence-based where the 12 Step philosophy underpins our treatment programme. But that’s just one part. The comprehensive therapeutic schedule means that you will be involved in so much more than solely working through the 12 Steps.

The 12 Steps however, is an extremely powerful element of the work that you will do and although it’s optional, we do encourage all clients to work through them especially after treatment. It’s a mechanism that supports you through the process of change into abstinence and is particularly supportive after treatment for sustaining your recovery.

Broadway Lodge Outside

Because the original wording of the 12 Steps contains the word ‘God’, understandably, some people do have misconceptions about the 12 Steps. We are frequently asked if you have to be religious to be able to work through them and our answer is always “no”. We understand why there is skepticism, not only because of the word God but because without any explanation as to what they truly mean from someone who knows them, they can be hard to make sense of. Reassuringly, you aren’t expected to understand the 12 Steps before you arrive at Broadway Lodge. Our experienced counsellors will make sure that you grasp them during your time with us.

But if you are curious to know more about them, we’ve created this dedicated page to give you more of an insight into this philosophy and to clarify why you don’t have to be religious for the 12 Steps to work for you.

Founded in the 1930's

A brief history of the 12 Steps


In 1935, New York stockbroker Bill Wilson began his recovery journey from alcoholism with the help of a programme he was engaged with, called the Oxford Group. This was a Christian based fellowship helping men to overcome character flaws and sins. Although it wasn’t a group specifically for helping people to overcome addiction, it did give him universal spiritual values for daily living that he could implement to change his life.

Embedding these values from the Oxford Group into his own life, Bill began a spiritual transformation and finally found sobriety. Feeling the benefits of this transformation, Bill wanted to pass on his knowledge so he began to help people in active addiction and found that working with other alcoholics helped him to sustain his sobriety. One of the first people he helped was surgeon Dr.Bob, an alcoholic who was continuing to struggle with addiction. With Bill’s help, Dr.Bob began his recovery journey and together they started helping more people to achieve sobriety.

By 1939, 100 people started their recovery after attending one of the three groups in America that the men had founded, all based on the spiritual principles that Bill lived by to get sober. In the same year, their textbook called Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was published, setting out their philosophy known as  ‘the 12 Steps of recovery’.  Since then the AA Fellowship grew year after year and the first AA group in Britain was formed in 1947.

Today, the 12 Steps is global. It has been adopted by many different Fellowships across the world that are supporting people to find and sustain recovery from addiction to a range of substances and behaviours, all based on the same 12 principles.


“The Twelve Steps prepares us to have a “spiritual awakening” or a “spiritual experience”. These phrases refer to the change in our thinking, attitudes, and outlook that occurs after taking the Steps. This change frees us from active addiction. Applying the Steps in our daily lives enables us to establish and improve our conscious contact with God or our Higher Power. Many in our Fellowship believe that the greatest safeguard in preventing relapse lies in consistent application of the Twelve Steps.”

Cocaine Anonymous

The original wording of the 12 Steps is still used today which is:

  • Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  • Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Former client Rob
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Sun and daisies

The first centre in Europe

A simple guide to 12 steps to recovery

We are proud that Broadway Lodge was the first centre in Europe to offer 12 Step-based treatment which, at the time in the 1970’s, was seen as pioneering. Since then, many other treatment centres in the UK have also encompassed the 12 Steps into their treatment offering because of the positive results.   There is long-standing evidence that practicing the 12 Steps, as part of an ongoing commitment to Fellowship meetings, is one of the most effective means of establishing and maintaining recovery.


Each step has a spiritual principle attached to it and people following the 12 Steps programme are taught to apply the guiding spiritual principle which is where behaviour change occurs, helping them to rebuild a life of increased self-esteem and self-confidence. Because the original 12 Steps wording above can be hard to understand, we’ve created a simplified version which you can read below. The spiritual principle for each step is written in bold.


Step 1 – Honesty

Realisation: I realise I have a problem, and I’m stuck.

Theory: If you cannot get honest about the scope of your problem and honest about a sincere effort to resolve it, you will not succeed.


Step 2 – Hope

Realisation: I’m willing to ask for help and see things from another perspective.

Theory: In order to engage in a course of addiction recovery, we must have hope of success. If there’s no hope, why try? A way to instil hope is to realise recovery is not a question of ability, but rather persistence and application.


Step 3 – Faith 

Realisation: I will let go of control and seek contentment.

Theory: This stage of action is to begin to employ the recovery skills being learned. You can seek out help, but it’s necessary to utilise it. Your job is to become willing to do the right thing. A simple way to view the next right thing is don’t engage in your behaviour. Have faith it will work.


Step 4 – Courage 

Realisation: I honestly look at the impact of my actions.

Theory: This step is really about courage to honestly look at ourselves. Take a look at how your behaviour has become warped to justify your continued behaviour. You are here to take an honest assessment of yourself.


Step 5 – Integrity 

Realisation: I take responsibility for my actions.

Theory: If we have truly done a thorough job of introspection and evaluation of our assets and shortcomings, do you have the integrity to own up to it? It can be very difficult to be open and honest about your past behaviours. You will need to accept a dose of humility.


Step 6 – Willingness 

Realisation: I am willing to change.

Theory: Now you have accomplished an inventory of the good and not so good aspects of your character and behaviour, are you willing to change them? All of them? The important part is the willingness to let go of old behaviours.


Step 7 – Humility 

Realisation: I will ask for help to change.

Theory:  You move further into action, becoming willing to let go of our old behaviours. Now you ask for help in actually letting go. Can you learn to forgive yourself?


Step 8 – Discipline and action 

Realisation: I stop blaming others and am willing to make amends.

Theory: You continue to remove the old barriers that can block forward, sober growth. You are getting ready to sweep your side of the street clean.


Step 9 – Forgiveness 

Realisation: I make amends.

Theory: Asking forgiveness of those we have intentionally or unintentionally injured is the order of the day. You try to correct those injuries through action not just words. It is highly recommended that guidance and help is utilised. Asking forgiveness is not a gift to the other person but an act of kindness to you.


Step 10 – Acceptance 

Realisation: I pay attention to my motives and the effects of my actions.

Theory: To be human is to make mistakes. Hopefully your journey has led you to this point where we can readily admit mistakes and accept yourself for being imperfect. We must also learn not to judge others but accept them for who they are, not our vision of who they should be.


Step 11 – Knowledge and awareness 

Realisation: I stay tuned to who I am and what I can do.

Theory: You search and become aware of following a path, being aware of your purpose in life and actively pursuing it. Be aware, do not be caught up in the rush of life; make a conscious effort to do the right thing and be at peace.


Step 12 – Service and gratitude 

Realisation: Having changed, I can now reach out to others who feel stuck.

Theory: Having brought about a personality change sufficient to remain in recovery, you are empowered to demonstrate the new principles by which we live, in our daily lives through example. You seek out and are available to help others in need.


Man in counselling session

Rehab for addiction

How are the 12 Steps used at Broadway Lodge?

The 12 Step model is a supporting framework which is integrated with other therapeutic approaches that counsellors use in one to one and group therapy sessions. The principles of the 12 Steps are applied to address your addiction but counsellors also work with you using different styles of therapy to address other presenting issues and past traumas troubling you so that you can begin to heal from them.

Once at Broadway Lodge, you will learn about the 12 Steps through educational lectures, workshops, group therapy, one to one counselling, education and assignments. You will also be able to attend local 12 Step Fellowship meetings of your choice which include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA ) and Overeaters Anonymous (OA).

As you read through the 12 Steps, you’ll see how they encourage you to conduct deep self-examination, release self-control and accept responsibility. The first few steps begin with admitting the need for help, relinquishing control, accepting help and examining flaws.

When you first come into Broadway Lodge, the first step you will look at is Step 1. The spiritual principle of Step 1 is honesty, so we will look at the impact your addiction has had on you and others. This involves getting honest about the impact, without denial or defense. This is a process that can take time and counselling theories will be applied when working with you so that any defences can be broken down. Going through the 12 Steps at Broadway Lodge is a psychological process and in Step 1, starting to get honest becomes embedded to the point where it is difficult to start lying or being dishonest again.

After working on honesty, we will work with you on Step 2 and the spiritual principle of Step 2 is hope. Next is Step 3 which is all about faith, then you’ll work on Step 4 which is about courage, and so on.

Introducing you to the 12 Steps during treatment not only helps you to achieve a solid foundation to your recovery but means you are fully prepared to be able to continue working on the 12 Steps after you leave and feel comfortable joining a Fellowship if you choose to do so (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous for instance).

Dispelling the myth

You don’t have to believe in a God

One of the many questions we get asked a lot, is “will the 12 Steps work for me if I don’t believe in God?”. The answer is always “yes”. Many have done so already and many will continue to do so. The 12 Steps is not about religion, it’s a spiritual programme that anybody can work through with success.

The 12 Steps originated in America where, at the time in the 1930’s, Christianity was a popular following so it was common for people to work through the 12 Step process using their faith-based religion and seeing God as their Higher Power. This is why ‘God’ appears in the wording. However, the Fellowship has developed for over 80 years since then and you can apply your own interpretation of what your Higher Power is now, whether a god or something else entirely.

Higher Power is a belief in a power greater than ourselves and this spiritual notion is important in recovery and when coping with difficult circumstances. It helps us to conquer challenges in life. What you assign as your Higher Power is an individual choice and for people who believe in a God then Higher Power can be easy to determine. For those who do not then your Higher Power will usually naturally come to you through the rehab journey and talking.


Sun in woodland

Nature can be used as an example of a Higher Power. Nature is a powerful force which is all around us. If you find peace, wonder and relaxation in watching the sunrise whilst walking through the park, feeling the elements of the weather against your skin whilst standing on headland or admiring animals and the flora and fauna whilst hiking through a forest, you may feel a spiritual connection. If so, nature can be used as your guiding force and your Higher Power.

Alternatively, music could be the force where you feel a strong spiritual connection. It may allow you to feel powerful emotions and help you to relax in order to help you though difficult challenges.

Speak to us in confidence

Would you like some help?

If you’re reading this because you’ve had enough of addiction and want to change your life, please contact us and we’ll be happy to give you our advice and information you need to decide if Broadway Lodge is the right place for you. Please call our enquiries team directly on 01934 815515 or email

Alternatively, please message us using our contact form here and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.