Twelve Step Program: Alcoholics Anonymous

group of AA members praying

The disease of addiction is a very complicated, destructive illness that affects virtually every aspect of one’s life. Nobody intends to become addicted when they begin to experiment with alcohol or drugs, but rather the disease develops over a period of time as a result of one’s lifestyle and choices, biological or genetic factors, and one’s social group and environment. Although the disease can’t be cured, individuals who suffer from addiction can overcome physical dependency and live free from the mental and physical chains of active addiction.

Among the many recovery tools that are available, twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous remain have been incredibly effective for millions of recovered addicts and, consequently, have remained popular for several decades. The following will give some background information into the original twelve-step group Alcoholics Anonymous, explaining how it incorporates spirituality into the recovery process and why the twelve-step method has shown to be so effective.

What Exactly is Alcoholics Anonymous?

The year is 1935. In Akron, Ohio, Bill Wilson has tried—and failed—to recover from alcoholism by participating in many of the programs and recovery fellowships that existed at the time. Taking bits and pieces that he liked from these other offerings and incorporating his own ideas concerning recovery, Wilson created his renowned twelve-step method in order to help a colleague overcome alcohol dependency. When both men had great success using Wilson’s Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Wilson began offering membership to others. In 1939, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism was published, containing the fellowship’s ideology and methodology, which has remained in use ever since.

Spirituality & Recovery: Why Twelve-Step Recovery Works

people in an alcoholics anonymous meeting

One of the things that made Wilson’s Alcoholics Anonymous unique compared to other recovery fellowships and treatment programs of the day was the emphasis on one’s spiritual needs during recovery. Many other fellowships considered substance abuse a sin and encouraged addicts to refrain from being sinners while treatment programs didn’t usually address one’s spirituality at all. As such, Wilson made the process of recovery an inherently spiritual journey without declaring any affinity for one religion. Instead, individuals who were “working the steps” were instructed to establish a stronger bond to whichever higher power they believed. Additionally, the Twelve Steps were designed as a cumulative process with each successive step building upon those that came before. Meanwhile, individuals are becoming more humble and getting in touch with an inner humility that is essential of the recovery process. Overall, the Twelve Steps serve as a means for individuals to not only overcome addiction on a physical level, but to also find purpose and achieve spiritual fulfillment without the aid of alcohol or drugs.

How to Recover Using the Twelve-Step Method of Alcoholics Anonymous


There are a couple components to the twelve-step recovery process that are each important in order for an individual to achieve lasting sobriety. Additionally, not all of the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous are spiritual in nature. When an individual begins attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he or she learns that the only prerequisite to twelve-step recovery is the desire to become sober. Having been living in active addiction, new members of Alcoholics Anonymous are still experiencing the profound negative effects that result from addiction. However, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings gives individuals a means of establishing an encouraging support network of individuals who are experienced in the recovery process and who can offer valuable advice gained from firsthand experience.

Due to having been suffering from addiction, addicts are often distrustful, skeptical, and withdrawn from others. However, in Alcoholics Anonymous one can see the evidence that the program works in the individuals who have been attending meetings for many years or even decades and, consequently, have remained abstinent from alcohol and drugs. In essence, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings provides encouragement by having individuals who are just beginning the recovery process socializing, networking, and learning from peers who have gained much experience with sobriety and twelve-step recovery.

Studies have found that individuals who use Alcoholics Anonymous and the twelve-step method to achieve sobriety often gain a significantly improved self-esteem, better socialization skills, social confidence, have significantly reduced fear of being judged negatively, and exhibit an optimistic outlook much of the time. Much of these traits can be attributed to individuals having addressed their emotional and spiritual needs over the course of the recovery process. While working the Twelve Steps, individuals trade alcohol or drugs with some other higher power as the driving forces of their lives. This process has been described as incredibly liberating and uplifting. Moreover, part of the twelve-step process in Alcoholics Anonymous involves individuals accepting responsibility for the wrongs committed to others while in active addiction and making amends whenever possible; this allows individuals to clear their consciences, which is important since feelings of guilt and shame are a frequent catalyst for relapse.

Make Your Way to a Life of Health & Happiness with Addiction Information

Of the many recovery tools that are available, Alcoholics Anonymous has remained a favorite due to its emphasis on addressing one’s spiritual needs as part of the recovery process. However, there are many ways to achieve lasting sobriety. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and would like to learn more about the recovery process, call Recovery Hub today at 1-888-220-4352. With a free consultation and assessment, you can be on your way to a better, healthier, happier life. Don’t wait—call Recovery Hub now.

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