Recovering from addiction through twelve steps

The twelve steps to recovery from addiction, also called the Minnesota model, is one of the most commonly used methods for recovering from addiction. Several addiction care institutions use the Minnesota model. It originally comes from America and came to the Netherlands around 1960. Of course, recovering from an addiction is not finished after twelve steps. The program is an approach that can be applied daily throughout life. When the program is put into practice every day, it has an effect.

To arise

The model was originally founded by the Oxford Group, not to be confused with the Oxford Movement. The Oxford Group was founded by the pastor Dr. Frank Buchman. Buchman was inspired by his teacher Robert E. Speer and his book The Principles of Jesus. Buchman was convinced that people can change when they realize that they must repent of a sinful life and ask God for help. Through prayer, meditation and confessing their sins to each other, a group of people emerged who exerted great attraction on the environment.

Alcoholics Anonymous

In 1935, an alcoholic stockbroker and a surgeon formed a brotherhood to support each other in staying sober. Through contacts with members of the Oxford Group, people became enthusiastic about the working method and results. The two friends then went their separate ways and soon gave themselves the name Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Subsequently, the Twelve Steps to recovery were created through the weekly meetings of the group of friends. To this day, the program is based on the principles of the Oxford Group: recovery from addiction is only possible if you believe that a Power greater than yourself can make you sane again.

Twelve steps to recovery from addiction

  1. We recognized that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We decided to surrender our will and our lives into the care of God, as each of us personally accepts Him.
  4. We took a deep and fearless moral stock of our lives.
  5. We confessed to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the true nature of our wrongdoings.
  6. We were completely willing to let God take away all our character flaws.
  7. We humbly asked Him to take away our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of the names of all those who had suffered damage and suffering because of us and declared our willingness to make amends to all of them.
  9. Where possible, we made direct amends to such people, except when doing so would offend them or others.
  10. We made it a habit to examine ourselves and immediately acknowledge the mistakes we had made.
  11. We tried through prayer and reflection to deepen our contact with God, however each of us personally accepts Him, and only prayed to Him to make us know His will and for the power to accomplish it.
  12. Now that these Steps have led us to spiritual awakening, we have sought to pass this message on to alcoholics and to live by these principles in all our actions.

The Netherlands

The Minnesota model subsequently spread all over the world. Since its inception, many people have found their way to recovery thanks to the Twelve Step Model. Around 1949, Dr. Henk Krauweel introduced the Twelve Step Model in the Netherlands. The first AA group started in Amsterdam with a simple translation known as the Red Book.


Several clinics have now started using the Minnesota model. This has resulted in different variants. The big difference lies in two aspects:

  • in one the emphasis may be on Christian character and in the other it may be more open.
  • There is a distinction between the use of the program internally, where a counselor is present, and the self-help group. There is no counselor present at the self-help group and anonymity is of paramount importance.


Below are a number of interesting websites, including the Hazelden site, the nerve center of the Twelve Step Model. On that site you can find a lot of scientific research in the field of addiction and treatment.