What is a 12 Step Programme ?

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What is a 12 Step Programme ?

28 August, 2020Articles, News

Bill Wilson (Bill W) and Dr Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr Bob) are the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous; this fellowship came into being in 1935. Both were alcoholics and both found a new way to live through the programme they founded, this has become known as the 12 step programme.

A twelve-step programme outlines specific actions to be taken for recovery from an addiction, or compulsive behaviours or indeed other behavioural problems. Alcoholics Anonymous were the first to introduce the idea as a way of overcoming alcoholism. As a result there are over 200 different types of 12 step fellowships/organisations that offer recovery from addictions, compulsions, and other behavioural related problems; these include Over Eaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Co – dependents Anonymous.

The 12 Steps:

  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.

The 12 Steps were first published in the book ; Alcoholics Anonymous: The story of how more than One Hundred Men have recovered from alcoholism in 1939. The book described how alcohol affected the individual in three ways, spiritually, mentally and physically. It describes a physical allergy – when the alcoholic has the first drink the body reacts with craving and wants more alcohol. You are unable to stop.

The mental obsession sees the alcoholic persisting with the same behaviour expecting a different result, trapped in the delusion, unable to see their truth. The book spoke of the “Spiritual Malady” based in self-centredness. Through working through the steps, the self-centredness is replaced with a willingness to be more self-less.

There are four elements that make a 12 Step programme unique in its approach to dealing with any addiction or negative behaviour. Members of these fellowships are encouraged to attend meetings, have a sponsor, connect with a Higher Power and to be of Service.

At meetings individuals are able to share their experience, relate and identify with others who are in recovery. A sponsor is someone with experience in the programme and is able to guide others using their experience. The programme has no religious affiliations. Instead it suggests that people have a personal connection with a Higher Power, which means that those with no religious beliefs are able to find something that will work for them. Individuals are encouraged to be of service as this helps to combat the self-centredness.

Members of 12 Step Fellowships are encouraged to practice the spiritual principal of anonymity and respect other members confidentiality. This ensures a space free of judgement and fear. Members are able to express themselves without fear and therefore find deeper connections with others in the programme.

The 12 Step model is a proven method used to bring about change. The majority of treatment centres have adopted the 12 Steps as a foundation of their treatment models. Unlike other models it offers specific action to bring about change. Practical and Simple.


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