12 Step Programs &
12 Step Information

12 step programs and 12 step groups help many people overcome addictions and problems which seem stressful...unsolvable.

Do you have so much stress in your life that you feel backed into a corner? Are you willing to do what ever it takes to solve your problem? If so, finding an appropriate 12 step group may be your answer!

Use the following 12 step information to guide you and help you get started.

The 12 Step Programs
Work With All Faiths

These programs offer a solution which is “spiritual” but not religious.

No denominational or theological affiliation is required.

Even people who thought of themselves as agnostics or atheists have been able to successfully use a 12 step program.

The program requires only that you be willing to believe that there is a “Power, greater than yourself” which can help you. It recommends you look within to find conscious contact with God as you understand him.

12 Step Groups Offer a Healing Path of
Deep and Profound Significance

Participation in these programs has saved thousands of people from death. They have saved many others from a life of hopelessness, chaos and despair.

Prior to the establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism was considered a progressive fatal disease. Modern medicine had no cure for it. Yet by 1946 a Minneapolis AA group reported that of the people who stayed with the program for at least 3 months, 48% achieved sobriety. Those who stayed with the program 9-12 months over 75% stayed sober!

History of the 12 Step Programs

The co founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, both gained their freedom from alcoholism by participation in a program called the Oxford Group. The Oxford Group followed 4 steps:

  • Surrender our life, past, present and future, into God’s care and direction.
  • Sharing with God and another person the characteristics of self, which have separated us from our Creator.
  • Make Restitution to all whom we have wronged, directly or indirectly.
  • Listen to, accept and rely on God’s Guidance and carry it out in everything we thing, say or do, great or small. To be considered God’s guidance a thought must meet the test of Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love.

These 4 steps became the basis for the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 step programs took form in the 1930's beginning with Alcoholics Anonymous.

Since then the basic 12 step program has been applied to many other stressful areas of life. They offer powerful stress relief.

How the Program Works:

We acknowledge that, on our own, we are powerless over the addiction or major problem in our life.

We find a group of people who, through adopting a non-religious, yet spiritual approach to life, have been able to overcome the addiction. (12 step programs are compatible with religion, religion is simply not required.)

We work with, and have the support of these people, both individually and in the group, and work the “Steps” of the program.

It does require the capacity to be honest. It also requires the commitment and dedication to working the program with the other members. But as they say, “It works if you work it.” Many people have been helped.

What Are the 12 Steps?

The following 12 steps from Alcoholics Anonymous have been successfully applied to many other addictions and problems.

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than our-selves 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 all 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 all 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 experience as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Finding a 12 Step Program

Try to find a group which closely follows the original Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps program, which had a 50% to 75% success rate.

We recommend the book, Back to Basics: The Alcoholics Anonymous Beginners' Meetings "Here are the steps we took..." in Four One-Hour Sessions by Wally P. It presents the original historical program clearly and powerfully.

It is suggested that you find a 12 step program and a sponsor or sharing partner who can support and guide you through the 12 step process.

First, identify a major area of stress in you life. (That is usually not too hard.) Then find an appropriate 12 Step Group in your area.

  • Are you an alcoholic or even a heavy drinker? (Try Alcoholics Anonymous)
  • Do you have a habit of taking drugs or other addictive substances for stress relief? (Try Narcotics Anonymous)
  • Are you overeating due to stress? (Try Overeaters Anonymous)
  • Are your finances a major source of stress or worry in your life? (Try Debtors Anonymous)
  • Are negative emotions making your life more stressful? (Try Emotions Anonymous.)

You can use the yellow pages and the internet to find an appropriate group for your situation. It is usually recommended that you start with just one group and focus your efforts there.

The groups invite participation free of charge.

They are available all over the country in the form of face to face meetings (highly recommended) and also telephone meetings (also very helpful).

Some of these groups include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Debtors Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Nicotine Anonymous
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Co-dependents Anonymous
  • Emotions Anonymous
  • Workaholics Anonymous
  • Recovering Couples Anonymous
  • Al-anon

If none of the existing groups seem to be addressing your particular problem, you can attend and participate in a convenient local group and mentally substitute the thought of your addiction or problem instead of alcohol or alcoholism. The steps will still work for you if you work them. Find a sponsor or sharing partner to assist you in the process.

An amazing number of people do find that their specific problem or addiction, and often many others, are just “lifted” from their shoulders when they honestly work the program.

Explore other ways to deal with stress spiritually to assist you on your journey, or

Learn how many early AA pioneers found peace and serenity practicing their 11th step by learning "How to Listen to God" or,

Visit Gentle Stress Relief home page for an overview of many kinds of stress relief.

Sources:

1939. Alcoholics Anonymous. New York City: Works Publishing Company

Paton, Wally, 2000. How to Listen to God, Overcoming Addiction Through Practice of Two-Way Prayer. Tucson, AZ: Faith with Works Publishing Company