The “Twelve Steps” are the core of the A.A. program of personal recovery from alcoholism. They are not abstract theories; they are based on the trial-and-error experience of early members of A.A. They describe the attitudes and activities that these early members believe were important in helping them to achieve sobriety. Acceptance of the “Twelve Steps” is not mandatory in any sense.
Experience suggests, however, that members who make an earnest effort to follow these Steps and to apply them in daily living seem to get far more out of A.A. than do those members who seem to regard the Steps casually. It has been said that it is virtually impossible to follow all the Steps literally, day in and day out. While this may be true, in the sense that the Twelve Steps represent an approach to living that is totally new for most alcoholics, many A.A. members feel that the Steps are a practical necessity if they are to maintain their sobriety.
(AA (GB) Website – Members’ Area – Recovery)
The relative success of the A.A. program seems to be due to the fact that an alcoholic who no longer drinks has an exceptional faculty for “reaching” and helping an uncontrolled drinker. In simplest form, the A.A. program operates when a recovered alcoholic passes along the story of his or her own problem drinking, describes the sobriety he or she has found in A.A., and invites the newcomer to join the informal Fellowship. The heart of the suggested program of personal recovery is contained in Twelve Steps describing the experience of the earliest members of the Society:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- 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.
An easy to read version of A.A.’s Twelve Steps Step appears at top of each page with simplified text under illustration.
THE A.A. TRADITIONS
To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death. A.A. can, of course, mean just as much to uncounted alcoholics not yet reached. Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for continuous effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together, else most of us will finally die alone.
The “12 Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A.A.’s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, “How can A.A. best function?” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?”
The Twelve Traditions
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 our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
© General Serivice Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited Registered Charity
Based on a Grapevine series; presents both the spirit and the practical applications of
our 12 Traditions.