A “12-Step” program refers to groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, often referred to as “AA” or “The Program.” AA was started in the 1930’s by two men, one a doctor of medicine, who was feeling the over use of alcohol went beyond willpower and felt that the company of other people who were also like him could help. This part of AA is called “the fellowship,” which is an important component to staying sober.
Each one of the 12-Steps were designed to assist in the psychological, emotional, and spiritual side of healing from substance abuse, while the physical body was detoxing. Along with the steps was a written book, called “The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous” which has gone through severe; editions since its inception and compiled new stories. The original format though has stayed intact.
Although the word “God” is used throughout the writing, it is also replaced several times by the term “Higher Power” as the original group of AA understood there were many people suffering from addiction who were always open to embrace traditional religious beliefs. There is a chapter in the Big Book which is entitled “We Agnostics” just because of that perspective.
As well as the 12-Steps, there are 12 Traditions, outlining how the program and meetings should run. All the conditions are designed to be “suggestions only.” When people embrace the Program of AA, and follow the steps, they often find long-lasting positive results. Others follow certain steps and traditions and disregard others. Some people are adamantly opposed to AA and its format, finding other groups that have a different approach or try and do it on their own.
Whether or not an alcoholic or addict decides to continue with a 12-Step program, most treatment centers adapt and use its model because of the success it has had throughout the world for recovery from addiction.
Part of the success of this 80-year-old organization may come from the universal principals beneath each step, which are commonly accepted as individual and social attributes such as: honesty, integrity, and patience. Working the principles underneath the steps is a great way to embrace the program, even if it’s for a short time.