Why everyone should try a 12-step program


EVERYONE should try doing a 12-Step Program. Not just alcoholics, gamblers, drug addicts and people addicted to sex; everyone. I guarantee the world would be a better place as a result.

More people would say sorry. Honesty and unselfishness would be more common. Roads and workplaces would be more harmonious.

For me personally, the steps saved my life.

I’d tried everything to stop drinking — fitness, therapy, religion, self-help books, and pure white-knuckled determination. And nothing worked … I had a successful job, a wife and kids … and I was thinking about killing myself on an almost daily basis.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the last card in the pack and the only thing that worked.

Initially meetings helped me stop, but I kept returning to drink for the first few years. Then I was taken through the steps by someone further along the journey than me. My life changed and I haven’t had a drink for almost a decade now.


Because the 12 Steps are not just about recovering from an addiction, they’re about living life the right way. They’re about being a decent person who builds self-esteem through honesty, dignity and reliability.

They’re about apologising to the wife when you snap at her. They’re about saying sorry to your parents for the way you treated them. They’re about being less controlling. They’re about helping others …

The 12 Steps are a Design For Life.

In fact, if you look at the 12-Steps, alcohol is only mentioned once, in the first half of the first step. You admit that you’re powerless over alcohol and then the remaining eleven and a half steps are about changing your life and the way you live it.

Here’s the thing: Alcoholism isn’t so much about alcohol per se, it’s about the person in addiction. The same goes for gambling and drugs and sex. If it was about alcohol then everyone who had a drink would become an alcoholic.

In fact, alcohol is as much the “solution” as the problem for alcoholics. Yes it causes all kinds of mayhem, but alcoholics feel compelled to return to it despite the consequences because it changes the way they feel.

That’s what all addictions are about; escaping yourself and the self-loathing that engulfs you. Alcoholics talk of “being born uncomfortable”; of feeling isolated and full of fear. Alcohol takes that away. But at the same time, it magnifies the problem on a long-term basis and drives people further into addiction.


The 12-Steps allow you to change the person you are. To become comfortable in your own skin. And so you no longer need to drink, drug or gamble away the way you feel.

Surely everyone in life wants that? To be comfortable with who they are and how they live life.

Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of AA, first proposed the steps in 1939 as part of the main text of Alcoholics Anonymous. They are largely derived from a mixture or spiritual principles found in religion and psychology, with a touch of Bill’s own experiences of recovery from alcohol.

Taken in order they form a simple pathway to recovery …

Steps 1 to 3: Admitting you’re stuffed, that life is a mess and that you can’t stop drinking when you want to. Recognising that you’re not the centre of the universe, and can’t control everything that happens around you.

Steps 4 to 9 are then about “cleaning house” and turning your life around: Looking at your past bad behaviour and hang ups, discussing them with someone more experienced than you, and learning the pattern of thinking that lead you to these stuff ups. Then saying sorry to the people that you’ve hurt, so that you can hold your head high again.

Essentially: Learning to live a decent life.

Steps 10 to 12 are basic maintenance based on the previous nine. And Step 12 also asks you to pass on the message to those who need it and help others in life. Which only seems fair, given what the other 11 have done for you.

That’s essentially it. Although with almost a decade in recovery, I’m still understanding the subtleties and nuances of the wisdom in these seemingly simple set of guidelines.

I should at this point mention God. The G-word is littered throughout the steps as you can see below.

I’m not a religious person; my conception of spirituality is more of an underlying intelligence and energy to the universe. I use the word “God” these days because it simply cuts down on confusion. But plenty of atheist alcoholics have recovered using a 12-Step program. The steps involving God are really about releasing control. In fact, Facebook is littered with memes saying the same thing:

“Accept what is, let go of what was … Learn to let go of what you cannot control … Accept what is and have faith in what will be …”

It’s hard enough running your own life, but it’s absolutely exhausting trying to run the world around you.

So you may not be an alcoholic or shooting up smack on a daily basis to escape your consciousness, but who doesn’t have problems in relationships, or suffer from unfounded fears, perhaps feel irritable and discontented, or prey to depressive feelings?

Perhaps steps can be taken to alleviate the way you feel …


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. 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.

12. 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.

Please see original article here: http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/mind/why-everyone-should-try-a-12step-program/news-story/06144639584be147acd211a45163e0c0