Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Alcoholics Anonymous - The Original 12 Step Program

The original 12 Step Program is Alcoholics Anonymous - which deals with what they call the "powerlessness" to stop drinking alcohol. Although the 12 Steps have been adopted by other groups including Al-Anon for people impacted by having or having had alcoholics in their life, Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps were designed and are only intended for use by alcoholics. The only requirement for membership in Alcoholics Anonymous "is the desire to stop drinking”.

Other twelve-step programs are similar fellowships which aim to aid in the recovery of the consequences of an obsession, addiction, a physical and mental compulsion, or another harmful influence on their lives, with the help of the faith-based Twelve Steps dependent on reliance on "A Power Greater than ourselves". As is said in Alcoholics Anonymous, it is not just a matter of putting the cork in the bottle, the 12 Step Program deals with the underlying mental and emotional causes of the obsession with alcohol (or other substances in other programs based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous).

These fellowships of men and women, a bond of loosely organized, autonomous groups, function on the basis of principles formulated in the Twelve Traditions. Synonyms are anonymous program and A-program; the original twelve-step program is Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A), which was started in the US. Today there are meetings and fellowships all over the world.

All twelve-step programs follow some version of the Twelve Steps. Members meet regularly to discuss their problem(s) and share their victories. Common among all such programs is the view that members are dealing with an illness rather than a bad habit or a maladaptive behavior, that the illness is a combination of an allergy of the body that creates uncontrollable cravings coupled with an obsession of the mind that keeps finding rationalizations for returning to that which causes the cravings, and that recovery from the illness can occur by abandonment of individual will through the Twelve Steps.

True to the Twelve Traditions, twelve step programs do not take positions on outside issues such as medical ones. The word "illness" rather than "disease" was used by Bill Wilson, a co-founder of A.A. and one of the drafters of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous (which was co-written by the first hundred men to find recovery in A.A.).

One of the most widely-recognized characteristics of twelve step groups is the requirement that members admit that they "have a problem". In this spirit, many members open their address to the group along the lines of, "Hi, I'm Pam and I'm an alcoholic" — a catchphrase now widely identified with support groups.

Attendees at group meetings share their experiences, challenges, successes and failures, and provide peer support for each other. Many people who have joined these groups report they found success that previously eluded them.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I found this article very interesting for the quotes and insight it gives into the history of AA and how sponsorship began. Hope you like it too!

A.A. Pioneer, Clarence H. Synder was the first to initiate 'Big Book' sponsorship.

In the beginning, that is, in 1939, there were two Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous the book, and Alcoholics Anonymous the fellowship of the original 100 members. There was no difference in the approach to sobriety between them.

Shortly after the publication of the volume, Alcoholics Anonymous (1939), a.k.a "The Big Book", a third fellowship develops in Cleveland, Ohio (1940). This new fellowship is the first to use the Big Book as a part of their regular practice. A.A. pioneer, Clarence H. Synder who was taken through the steps by Dr. Bob, modeled a style of one-on-one sponsorship in which a member of the fellowship experienced in the Twelve Step program would take a newcomer, under his wing, help him adjust to sobriety, and coach him through the Twelve Steps. The sponsor and newcomer would meet and work their way through the Big Book together, page by page.

Cleveland sponsors emphasized the Oxford Group's Four Absolutes (Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness, Love) and the importance of working with other alcoholics. Due to a sudden swell in membership, newcomers were often put to work taking other newcomers (both one-on-one and beginners classes) through the book before they have even finished the Steps themselves. Due to the same swell in membership, Cleveland's Big Book style sponsorship quickly becomes the most common form of AA.

Bill Wilson was constantly amazed at the growth and apparent success that Cleveland was having in sobering up alcoholics. He visited there every time that he went to Ohio. Bill later wrote in A.A. Comes of Age:

"Yes, Cleveland's results were of the best. Their results were in fact so good, and A.A.'s membership elsewhere was so small, that many a Clevelander really thought A.A.'s membership had started there in the first place. The Cleveland pioneers had proved three essential things: the value of personal sponsorship; the worth of the A.A.'s Big Book in indoctrinating newcomers, and finally the tremendous fact that A.A., when the word really got around, could now soundly grow to great size."

Clarence believed the difference between New York and Mid-West A.A. was the approach to sobriety. In Ohio the approach was, "Trust God, Clean House, and Help Others." Clarence felt that the approach in New York was, "Don't Drink and Go To Meetings".

Emphasis on spirituality was what had made Ohio A.A. so successful, according to Clarence. He noticed that New York A.A. had but a few members who were maintaining any sort of abstinence from alcohol, and that most Ohio members had achieved what was to become permanent sobriety and had numerous, strong A.A. meetings in evidence.
Moreover, Clarence thought that if the primary purpose of A.A. were only to stop drinking and, in order to maintain that abstinence, only go to meetings, A.A. was doomed to failure.

Clarence remembered Dr. Bob once saying:

"There is an easy way and a hard way to recovery from alcoholism. The hard way is by just going to meetings."

Clarence stated that nowhere in the Steps of A.A. does it say one has to stop drinking. He was speaking of the A.A. statement that the only REQUIREMENT for membership is "a desire to stop drinking."

If an A.A. member puts the steps into their lives, beginning with the first three steps, they have admitted that they are powerless over alcohol, they could not manage their own lives, and that they had made a decision to turn their lives and their will over to the care of God. They were no longer in charge. A Power Greater than themself had been asked to take over.
If an A.A. member is constantly, on a daily basis, fighting taking a drink, (i.e. Just for today I will not take a drink.) there is no one in charge but the A.A. member. There is no power greater than oneself. The A.A. book states:
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. pg. 84 A.A. 4th edition

Mid-West A.A. puts the reliance on God, a Higher Power, and not the A.A. meetings or other A.A. members. New York places reliance on a human power. The A.A. book clearly states:

That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. pg. 60 A.A. 4th edition

Bill Wilson made numerous trips to Ohio to try and find out what they had that worked so well. He spoke with Clarence and with Dr. Bob and attended meetings. He tried to bring back the program of recovery as it was in Ohio to the New York members, but they would not assimilate the spirituality into their brand of A.A.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Season of Rebirth & New Life

My new life that I received by experiencing the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is outstanding! I didn't just work the steps, I experienced them! And it continues on a daily basis. I get an extended daily probation from my alcoholism.

By continuing this journey on the Broad Highway, I get to live free. The serenity and peace of mind that I have today are truly miraculous!

It is my hope that this website will help spread the message of hope that can be received in the spiritual program of action, AA. There are so many links to so many different AA sites; I hope that you will add this one to your favorites.

Until next time, remember, "When we draw near to Him, he discloses Himself to us."

Sunday, April 1, 2007


The greatest gift I have received so far in sobriety is the ability to live in today. And I know that I must give it away to keep it.

When searching the net for anything AA, so many links pop up to all kinds of sites. Wouldn't it be great if there was one site to visit where you could find a meeting anywhere in the US, read articles, talk to other alcoholics, buy AA gifts, research AA history, and more?

Well, hopefully this will be that place! It's new, it will evolve, and hopefully will help others.

Please join us on The Broad Highway!