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You may, or you may not have heard about Alcoholics Anonymous, but in case you have not heard, in summary, it is a group dedicated to recovering people who suffer from alcoholism, which is alcohol addiction. This program is a rehabilitation method for alcohol addiction. The 12 step program represents the core of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. These twelve steps are not obligatory, and in fact, most recovered alcoholics claim that no one takes the 12 steps day after day without relapsing. However, it is a program that helps acceptance and will is paramount to recovery.


Silhouette of an alcoholic in despair

Alcohol is a legal substance in practically all countries, and its consumption is normalized in society since it is related to the celebration and the traditions of many places around the world. Virtually everyone has access to alcohol. Many times age is not limiting, and all social classes can buy alcohol in any store. However, it is a substance used in excess and, due to different social conditions, can cause addiction. The twelve steps were born to help rehabilitate people who suffer from alcoholism and are based on the founding members’ rules. However, the strategies in different groups have had some modifications.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Step Program

Yellow stickers with the Twelve Step Program used by alcoholics anonymous

This series of instructions for alcohol rehabilitation began in the 1930s, which means that it has been applied in double AA groups for 90 years since its inception. The people who created it are named Bob Smith and Bill Wilson. The first group of Alcoholics Anonymous was formed in the United States, in the Akron, Ohio region, and it was Bob and Bill who proposed to use only the first name to maintain anonymity. They wrote the 12 steps as a suggested form of recovery for alcohol addiction. They were initially based on the six steps of the “Oxford Group” created by Frank Buchman, but since these six steps were based on the Christian religion, Bob and Bill decided to write the book of Alcoholics Anonymous and leave out religion, politics, and any other ideology.

The 12 step program has been subjected to studies several times, and it has been proven to be an effective rehabilitation method, although it has also been mentioned that the success of recovery depends a lot on the commitment of the person being rehabilitated, since part of the program is to accept that you have a problem and willingly want to change. This program is included many times in general addiction programs because of its effectiveness, and the heaviest factor for success will always be the addict’s desire to get away from the substance. Alcoholics Anonymous groups accept anyone regardless of their beliefs, age, gender, socioeconomic status, or others. Groups are generally supported by the same members without any funding, and most are not related to any religious or political group.

You should also know that the Alcoholics Anonymous book has references to the existence of a higher power, and the word GOD is used to refer to their notion of a higher power as Great OutDoors. The twelve steps are: 

  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. 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.

AA Support Groups

Meeting of an alcoholic's anonymous support group

The tradition is for AA groups to hold meetings where people are called by their first names and where people who are in the 12 step program share their experiences and reflections on alcohol abuse. The objective of this is to have a support network and listen to others so that they can have better rehabilitation. The talks are generally about the experiences in the program of the twelve steps, although there are also meetings where there is only one speaker per meeting telling their experiences.

This program is supported through “godparents,” who are people who have recovered and are fully rehabilitated from alcohol and who took the 12 step program. These “godparents” adopt a person who is in the program, which is the “godson,” and the goal is that the person who is in rehab can stay sober with the personal help of his godfather. This support network is very useful for both the person in recovery and the recovered person. If you have or know people who suffer from alcoholism, it is necessary to seek help, but also remember that there must be a commitment on the part of the person who is suffering from the problem. Otherwise, the program will not work.