Twelve-step Twelve-tradition programs are mutual aid organizations for the purpose of recovery from substance addictions, behavioral addictions and compulsions.
The first twelve-step program, Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), aided its membership to overcome alcoholism. Since that time dozens of other organizations have been derived from AA’s approach to address problems as varied as dysfunctional families, drug addiction, compulsive gambling, overeating, sex addiction, and more.
The 12 steps and 12 traditions are discussed in detail in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions are based on spiritual principles, not religious principles, therefore people from all walks of life whether spiritual, religious, atheist, or agnostic, have found the program immensely helpful.
The language emphasizes the presence of a Higher Power, or God, as each participant understands him, allowing for different interpretations, Spiritual and religious beliefs.
Find more 12 Step and 12 Tradition books.
The 12 Steps
The Twelve Steps focus on the individual.
Here are the Twelve Steps:
- 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 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.
The 12 Traditions
The 12 Traditions speak to the members of Alcoholics Anonymous as a group, unlike the 12 Steps, which are focused on the individual.
Here are the 12 traditions:
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
- 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.
- The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose–to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- 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.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities
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