The basis of the 12-step program Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is abstinence from alcoholic beverages. Someone who has an alcohol use disorder begins the process with an admission that they cannot control their drinking. Someone with an alcohol addiction must also be ready to review their shortcomings and have a willingness to make amends with the people they’ve hurt during their alcohol misuse.
The only requirement for AA members is maintaining their commitment to stop drinking. However, instead of promising to quit drinking forever, members of AA are taught to live alcohol-free one day at a time. The 12 steps of AA help guide members through the lifelong process of recovery.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous
When diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, a person’s health care provider may suggest they attend AA meetings, but some people are unfamiliar with the organization and may wonder, “What is AA?”
Founded in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous was established with the intent of helping people with alcohol use disorders. Because AA is anonymous, it’s difficult to provide an exact number of members, but it is estimated that AA has helped hundreds of thousands of people with alcohol addictions.
The organization’s 12-step program focuses on encouraging members to recognize how their alcohol use disorder has hurt themselves and the people in their lives. Besides offering support and understanding, the program also provides opportunities to discuss sobriety issues in a confidential, casual environment that promotes personal responsibility while improving coping skills and mechanisms.
The Twelve Steps
The guiding principles of AA are the Twelve Steps. Other support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous adapted these steps to function for their members. The Twelve Steps can be used as a guide to recover from compulsive, out-of-control behaviors and restore the management of symptoms.
The Twelve Steps of AA are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human beings the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.
- We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- We 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.
- We have had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Find Treatment for Alcoholism
While Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent resource for support and understanding, it’s not a treatment method for an alcohol use disorder. If you or someone you know struggles with an alcohol use disorder, contact The Recovery Village and speak to a representative about how individualized treatment can address your alcoholism and any co-occurring disorders. Call to speak with a representative to learn more about which treatment program could work for you.