The History of the Famous Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Program


What Is the 12 Step Program?

The 12 Step Program is a program used in substance abuse recovery groups, primarily AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). It was originally designed to help those struggling with alcoholism, and is now a building block toward sobriety.

There are several versions of AA; since the original program was based on Christianity, there are now more secular options available. The main premise of the program is that people can ultimately help one another maintain sobriety and stay abstinent from substances. However, the healing and recovery can never begin if they don’t give into some sort of higher power. Everyone in a 12 Step Program must be able to recognize and accept their flaws and behaviors to effectively move forward.


Where Did the Idea for the 12 Steps Come From?

Bill Wilson, a former member of Alcoholics Anonymous, created the 12 Steps in 1938. During his experience, he wrote down his ideas and tips regarding sobriety. After combining these tips with a few other teachings and Christian inspiration, Wilson put the 12 Steps into action.


Evolution of the 12 Step Program

The steps were then recorded in The Big Book, which was once meant for people who weren’t able to attend AA meetings in person. From there, these 12 steps became a model for AA.

Today, there are many versions of the 12 Step Program. These alternatives are designed for individuals who would prefer a less faith-based model or are recovering from a different type of addiction. The program has been adapted to Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), etc.

Considering the conditions posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic, there are currently AA meetings and 12 Step Programs administered virtually. This way, those struggling from addiction can still get the support they need when they’re at home.


Breaking Down Each of the 12 Steps

While the steps have evolved over time, each of these points captures a goal that the 12 Step Program has for its participants.

Here are the overall themes of each of the 12 Steps:

  1. Honesty
  2. Faith
  3. Surrender
  4. Soul Searching
  5. Integrity
  6. Acceptance
  7. Humility
  8. Willingness
  9. Forgiveness
  10. Maintenance
  11. Making Contact
  12. Service


How to Practice the 12 Steps

The 12 Steps are typically practiced during AA, in a room with others who understand the situation. Most individuals in these meetings start after rehab, so they should have a few months or so of sobriety under their belts before beginning.

During 12 Step Programs, it is important to accept the truth from others. You won’t know who these people are, but they will have your best interest at heart. You must hold yourself accountable and give up to some sort of higher power in order to completely immerse yourself in the 12 Steps.


Helping Others With the 12 Step Program

Many people don’t consider 12 Step Programs for financial reasons. However, there are many affordable and free options out there. Insurance may also pay for treatment, which could cover AA and the 12 Steps. If you or someone you know has benefitted from flexible AA payment options, it’s encouraged that you advise others through the process.

One of the main points of AA and similar groups is to help each other. You can do this by giving other participants advice, listening to their stories, being honest with them, and becoming a sponsor.


Staying Sober After the 12 Steps

Even after you learn all of the 12 Steps, it’s encouraged that you consider some kind of treatment. If you think your addiction is under control, you can also help others who are new to overcoming addiction.

To learn more about the 12 Step Programs and other types of addiction treatment, contact our team of substance abuse experts by calling 866-345-2147 or visiting our website here.