The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were developed in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (you will hear them referred to in AA circles as Dr Bob and Bill W).
As the program gained popularity the 12 steps were eventually adapted to fit other addiction problems as well.
Twelve step programs are designed to deal with physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of addiction.
The physical aspect involves compulsion to drink, in the case of alcoholics. The first step of the program states that the individual is “powerless” to control these compulsions.
Often people find the mention of ‘God’ in the 12 steps a problem for them, don’t worry too much about this aspect, you can just replace the word ‘God’ with ‘Higher Power’ if you prefer.
AA themselves have claimed that this is not a religious program, it was however founded on religious beliefs and the religious overtone remains today. In my opinion what does it matter? If these steps can lead you to obtaining a better life then my advice is to put aside any concerns you may have and give it a go.
The mental aspect involves the brain’s inability to stop compulsive behavior even though it knows the negative consequences that will undoubtedly occur.
The spiritual problem with addiction is self-centeredness. The 12 step program deals with each problem.
The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are as follows:
1. We admitted 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 made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. We 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.
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.
The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous can be broken down into several categories.
Steps 1-3 result in the alcoholic admitting that he has a problem and that he alone cannot fix it.
Steps 4-7 cause the individual to take inventory of his life and faults and go about correcting them.
Steps 8 and 9 require making amends to those he has wronged.
Steps 10 and 11 require daily inventory of one’s behavior.
Step 12 acknowledges that having applied steps 1-11, you have to continue to do so.
Twelve step programs take place in open and closed meetings (open meetings allow members of the public to attend), both are based on total anonymity. The meetings are self-supporting. Every member has a sponsor, or mentor to help him with recovery.
It is important to remember that the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are not an overnight solution to alcoholism. They are merely stepping stones on the constant daily journey toward sobriety.
You will need more than AA to succeed in the long term but as a start this program helps a lot of people and may just help you.