The first 12 step program was created by the founders of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” AA for short. It was incepted in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob Smith, an Akron surgeon. They started as hopeless alcoholics in a mostly nonalcoholic fellowship that emphasized universal spiritual values in daily living. They successfully were able to become sober through surrendering themselves to a higher power and then by helping other alcoholics.
Their program was so successful for treating alcohol dependency that it was implemented with the treatment of abused substances thus creating “Narcotics Annonymous.” The 12 steps were founded around spirituality, but many nonreligious people have benefited immensely from their practice. Recovery is a process that takes time and effort to get through but by following the 12 steps a tremendous amount of people have finally been able to break the chains of substance abuse.
Here are the individual steps listed 1-12.
1). We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–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 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 alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
As you can see, there is a heavy emphasis on religion as a driving factor for recovery in the program. Some people have reported that instead of using God as their higher power they employ the idea of their loved ones or their future self in place of God. The two most important steps reported by successful program members are; admitting you have a problem you cannot solve and being vocal with your group about your struggles. Both of these have the same psychological effect in the way that when you admit you have a problem you then allow yourself to be open to healing in the form of suggestion and personal growth. Overall the AA programs of today report a 36% success rate for recovery.
If you are more interested in how Alcoholics Anonymous was created and how it helps people click HERE!