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12-Step Programs

The twelve-step program was originally proposed by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson who founded Alcoholic’s Anonymous in 1935. These programs use a series of guiding principles that outline a course of action for the recovery from alcohol addiction and other behavioral problems. Today, 12-step programs are found in most treatment centers and have been evolved to provide support and guidance for those who suffer from alcohol addiction, gambling addiction, compulsive disorders and various other problems.

Twelve step programs involve admitting a lack of control over addiction, realizing a higher power that can provide strength, examining past errors and situations with the guidance and help of a sponsor and making amends for the errors. The addict will then learn how to live life under a new behavioral code helping others who suffer from the same addictions as them.

Today, there are more than 200 different self-help organizations that are also known as fellowships that utilize twelve-step principles for recovery. For alcohol addiction, the most common 12-step recovery program is Alcoholics Anonymous but there are also groups known as auxiliary groups such as Al-Anon which provide support for the friends and family members of those who are addicted to alcohol.

The Twelve Steps

The original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous are:

  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 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 alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
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