"But then the 12-step concept has proved successful against long odds before."
Can anyone tell me what "against long odds" means?
It is a gambling or betting term. If something has "long odds" it means it is very unlikely to happen or is an improbable outcome.
The chances of, for example, Madonna becoming the next President of the USA would have "very long odds".
Odds are written as, for example, 12/1 (twelve to one) - if you bet $1 on a positive outcome, and you are right, you will be paid $12 as your prize. Long odds would be 100/1 (just an example).