The Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous

AA's program for remaining sober is called the Twelve Steps. They 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 admit 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 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 steps are based on suggestions gleaned from the collective experiences of members about how they achieved sobriety—and then maintained it. In this sense, AA is a collectivity of mutual help groups more than it is discrete individuals engaging in self-help. At meetings both open to the public and ''closed'' (for members only), the Twelve Steps are closely examined, and members frankly tell their own versions of their drinking histories—their AA ''stories''—and describe how the AA program helped them to achieve sobriety.

Membership in AA depends on an individual's declaration of intention to stop drinking. An AA group comes into being when two or more ''drunks'' join together to practice the AA program. ''Loners'' are relatively few, but some exist. There are no dues or fees for membership; AA is self-supporting and is not associated with any sect, denomination, political group, or other organization. It neither endorses nor opposes any causes. These points, and other basic descriptions of AA, appear on the first page of AA's monthly magazine, The Grapevine. Although AA is not set up as a centralized organization, a commonly shared set of traditions guides their meetings and treatment strategies. For example, one of the Twelve Traditions sets forth AA's singleness of purpose—to help alcoholics achieve and sustain sobriety; another tradition underscores the necessity for the anonymity of members, as a way to avoid personality inflation and to promote humility. Over time, the Twelve Traditions have come to be as vital a part of AA as the Twelve Steps. They are:

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority ... a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants. . . . They do not govern.

3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose ... to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all traditions ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Written in 1939, Alcoholics Anonymous (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1939, 1955, 1976) is the basic text that outlines the experiences of the first 100 members in staying sober. It is fondly referred to as ''The Big Book.''

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