There are dozens of organizations in the United States and worldwide that use the 12-step model, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous, according to 12step.org. Of these, Alcoholics Anonymous is the oldest, dating back to 1939, says AA.
The 12 steps are a set of principles and beliefs that begin with a person admitting that he needs help to overcome a problem, and that he is "powerless" to control his behavior on his own, explains Recovery.org. Steps two and three focus on finding hope through belief in a "higher power," which each individual defines in his own way. Steps four through seven encourage the person to take stock of his shortcomings, openly admit his flaws, and ask his higher power for the strength and commitment to change. Step eight and nine focus on making amends, and steps 10 and 11 are about meditation and reflection. Step 12 is the final step, when the person is ready to begin helping others in the program and the community.