12-step interventions and mutual support programs for substance use disorders: an overview

Soc Work Public Health. 2013;28(3-4):313-32. doi: 10.1080/19371918.2013.774663.


Social workers and other behavioral health professionals are likely to encounter individuals with substance use disorders in a variety of practice settings outside of specialty treatment. 12-Step mutual support programs represent readily available, no cost community-based resources for such individuals; however, practitioners are often unfamiliar with such programs. The present article provides a brief overview of 12-Step programs, the positive substance use and psychosocial outcomes associated with active 12-Step involvement, and approaches ranging from ones that can be utilized by social workers in any practice setting to those developed for specialty treatment programs to facilitate engagement in 12-Step meetings and recovery activities. The goal is to familiarize social workers with 12-Step approaches so that they are better able to make informed referrals that match clients to mutual support groups that best meet the individual's needs and maximize the likelihood of engagement and positive outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Program Evaluation
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods*
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Social Support*
  • Social Work* / methods
  • Social Work* / standards
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*