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AA & The Twelve Step Program

The Twelve Step approach was originally introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous and even though the Oxford Group influenced this movement a lot more work was put in it by co-founder Bill Wilson. “Alcoholics Anonymous”, was the first book written on the 12 step program and referred by many as the “Big Book”.

A Newsletter for Professionals Fall 2003

Here is how A Newsletter for Professionals from fall 2003 introduces the AA program: “One of the most common misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a religious organization. New members especially, confronted with A.A.’s emphasis on recovery from alcoholism by spiritual means, often translate “spiritual” as “religious” and shy away from meetings, avoiding what they perceive as a new and frightening set of beliefs. By the time they walk into their first meeting, many alcoholics have lost what faith they might once have possessed; others have tried religion to stop drinking and failed; still, others simply want nothing to do with it. Yet with rare exceptions, once A.A. members achieve any length of sobriety, they have found a source of strength outside themselves — a Higher Power, by whatever name — and the stumbling block has disappeared.”

The Twelve Steps

The method used in AA was later adapted for other twelve-step programs to aid in recovery for other addictions and compulsive behaviors.

As the name mentions, in this program or method, there are 12 different steps that a person must go through or follow on their road to recovery. There are alternative versions of the 12 steps in existence that are very similar to each other. Below are the steps for cocaine anonymous.


Friendship & Spiritual

The 12 Steps of Cocaine Anonymous

  1. We admitted we were powerless over cocaine and all other mind-altering substances — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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 addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Each of these alternative versions comes with a support group and meetings. New members of this approach are urged to acquire a relationship with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who has experienced recovery from the 12-step program and will guide the new person through the steps and give one-on-one support through hardship.

Spirituality and the 12-Step Program

Believing in one’s self, that he or she is worthy of second chances and willing to be accountable makes all the difference.  When a person’s faith in himself is restored, when he sees his life as worth living, when he seeks forgiveness not only from others but from himself, he finds peace, acceptance, joy, and hope.  All of these open up new windows of opportunity in life, love, relationships, talent, and employment.  All of these close the door to relapse and lets the enemy (the addiction) know that the person has new armor and new battle gear and can not be overthrown so easily again.  Peace, acceptance, joy, and hope are the foundation of an addict’s successful 12 step program.

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