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Posts Tagged ‘alcohol treatment center’


Alcoholics Anonymous is pretty class act. I attended a few sessions with them as I was required by my counseling professor. I definitely see the power and unity among them.

I must say, “Thank you” to my professor of our Addictions & Disorders course. She knew that reading books and hearing lectures are not going to cut it. It is best to throw yourself in the mix and hear stories and meet people who have problems with alcohol - and other addictive behaviours.

You always hear jokes about, “I’m Bob, I’m an alcoholic.”

“Hi Bob”

Then Bob goes on to tell his story.

Well - it ain’t no joke.

That sentence takes a TON of guts and many many years to say. I am proud of the folks who can say that and who are making an improvement in their life. As an improvement in their life is a direct improvement in their loved one’s - and their immediate circle of friends.

One man today said that he was sober for 9 months - he was shaking while telling his story this morning. He was a proud father for the first time in years. He took his son skiing yesterday. That’s fantastic.

Another young woman got her 3 kids back - lost her husband but she said she didn’t want him back anyway

It was interesting to hear how they all said they just flat out lied to the doctors about drinking.

I can see that and expected it - but to hear it from person after person after person makes me very aware of the strength of addictions. When a patient comes into my office, it isn’t about asking the right questions. It is more about being aware and sensing what is going on in their life.

I don’t want to be lied to. I want to provide assistance to someone who is at the point of admitting there may be a problem.

You can bet I will have the Alcoholic Anonymous flyers and meetings in my clinic readily available - and sent in a Welcome Packet to all patients.

We all know an alcoholic. If we don’t, we’re blind. Open your eyes.

Offer assistance if you feel they are ready for it.

The assistance is finding another alcoholic that is now sober and having that suffering individual speak with them. You ability to help is not as strong as a person who has been there and struggled with it - they bond strongly.

I recommend Alchololics Anonymous. I am impressed.

A great family support group for many many people.

If you suffer from a drinking problem - or should I say - if you drink more than 3 drinks a day, 3 or more times a week, go visit an AA meeting. Just listen. You don’t have to say a word. Just go, sit down, drink coffee, eat donuts and listen.

Here is their main website: Alcoholics Anonymous.

Let It Happen
May 18, 2009 Story of the Day

April 1985
Vol. 41 No. 11

IN APRIL 1965, when I was a 119-pound, extremely shaky forty-seven-year-old man, dry for about six weeks, I was adopted as someone’s “pigeon.” George had eight years’ sobriety in the AA program, which was inconceivable to me at that time. Whenever I could work up the nerve to ask George a question relating to what appeared to me to be a complex problem, George would invariably reply, “Time and patience will see most problems resolved as they should be–if you just don’t take the first drink today and go to a meeting tonight.”

Fortunately, I followed the last part of his statement for many years, until I slowly began to learn a little patience, to gain a little time for my emotions to line up with my limited logic. By not taking that first drink each day, and going to a meeting every night for about five years (today I have reduced it to five a week), I gave myself enough breathing room for you sober people in AA to show me how this program works. Then, little by little, the Twelve Steps began to work themselves in my daily living.

After approximately nine months, I asked George when I was going to find some meaning in life–just going to meetings and not drinking seemed to be rather routine and repetitious. He told me that to find the reason for my being alive and sober, look at the Preamble. There I found what was to be my credo for the rest of my life: “to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” This seemed so simple and so purposeful that I am still amazed, when I periodically take inventory, to find that this has been the only real meaning in my life. In spite of occasionally looking through the years to find something else more important, I have always returned to this answer to all my questions. By staying sober, being available through attendance at many meetings, trying to make newcomers feel wanted, and accepting the responsibility of sponsorship when asked, I have been forced constantly to look at myself, to realize my powerlessness in all areas of my life, and primarily to seek a stronger and more lasting understanding of the Power which gives me the strength to meet each day sober and with an increasing degree of comfort.

When George said “time and patience,” he meant that I would find sobriety and happiness in becoming a useful person in the AA Fellowship and to my fellow alcoholics who are trying to stay sober.

When I am asked the same questions by those I sponsor, I give them the same answer, and they have the same reaction–Is this all there is? To which I reply, “What do you want? Why did you come to Alcoholics Anonymous? If you want financial success, improved social status, dominance over other persons in your life, a secret way to control your drinking, and all the other goodies you believe will make you happy, just don’t take the first drink today and go to a meeting tonight, and somewhere down the road you will find the answer to all your questions and aspirations.” I know, because this is what happened to me. I finally began to ask the right questions in order to find the right answers.

P. M.

alcohol rehab, 30 days sober, living sober


DULL . . . listless . . . semicomatose . . . I lay on my bed in a famous hospital for alcoholics. Death or worse had been my sentence.

What was the difference? What difference did anything make? Why think of those things which were gone-why worry about the results of my drunken escapades? What the hell were the odds if my wife had discovered the mistress situation? Two swell boys . . . sure . . . but what difference would a corpse or an asylum imprisoned father make to them? . . . thoughts stop whirling in my head . . . that’s the worst of this sobering-up process . . . the old think tank is geared in high-high . . . what do I mean high-high . . . where did that come from . . . oh yes, that first Cadillac I had, it had four speeds . . . had a high-high gear . . . insane asylum . . . how that bus could scamper . . . yes . . . even then liquor probably poisoned me. What had the little doctor said this morning . . . thoughts hesitate a moment . . . stop your mad turning . . . what was I thinking about . . . oh yes, the doctor.

This morning I reminded Doc this was my tenth visit. I had spent a couple of thousand dollars on these trips and those I had financed for the plastered play girls who also couldn’t sober up. Jackie was a honey until she got plastered and then she was a hellion. Wonder what gutter she’s in now. Where was I? Oh . . . I asked the doctor to tell me the truth. He owed it to me for the amount of money I had spent. He faltered. Said I’d been drunk that’s all. God! Didn’t I know that?

But Doc, you’re evading. Tell me honestly what is the matter with me. I’ll be all right did you say? But Doc, you’ve said that before. You said once that if I stopped for a year I would be over the habit and would never drink again. I didn’t drink for over a year, but I did start to drink again.

Tell me what is the matter with me. I’m an alcoholic? Ha ha and ho ho! As if I didn’t know that! But aside from your fancy name for a plain drunk, tell me why I drink. You say a true alcoholic is something different from a plain drunk? What do you mean . . . let me have it cold . . . brief and with no trimmings.

An alcoholic is a person who has an allergy to alcohol? Is poisoned by it? One drink does something to the chemical make-up of the body? That drink affects the nerves and in a certain number of hours another drink is medically demanded? And so the vicious cycle is started? An ever smaller amount of time between drinks to stop those screaming, twitching, invisible wires called nerves?

I know that history Doc . . . how the spiral tightens . . . a drink . . . unconscious . . . awake . . . drink . . . unconscious . . . poured into the hospital . . . suffer the agonies of hell . . . the shakes . . . thoughts running wild . . . brain unleashed . . . engine without a governor. But hell Doc, I don’t want to drink! I’ve got one of the stubbornest will powers known in business. I stick at things. I get them done. I’ve stuck on the wagon for months. And not been bothered by it . . . and then suddenly, incomprehensibly, an empty glass in my hand and another spiral started. How did the Doc explain that one?

He couldn’t. That was one of the mysteries of true alcoholism. A famous medical foundation had spent a fortune trying to segregate the reasons for the alcoholic as compared to the plain hard, heavy drinker. Had tried to find the cause. And all they had been able to determine as a fact was that practically all of the alcohol in every drink taken by the alcoholic went to the fluid in which the brain floated. Why a man every started when he knew those things was one of the things that could not be fathomed. Only the damn fool public believed it a matter of weak will power. Fear . . . ostracism . . . loss of family . . . loss of position . . . the gutter . . . nothing stopped the alcoholic.

Doc! What do you mean-nothing! What! An incurable disease? Doc, you’ re kidding me! You’re trying to scare me into stopping! What’s that you say? You wish you were? What are those tears in your eyes Doc? What’s that? Forty years you’ve spent at this alcoholic business and you have yet to see a true alcoholic cured? Your life defeated and wasted? Oh, come, come Doc . . . what would some of us do without you? If even to only sober up. But Doc . . . let’s have it. What is going to be my history from here on out? Some vital organ will stop or the mad house with a wet brain? How soon? Within two years? But, Doc, I’ve got to do something about it! I’ll see doctors . . . I’ll go to sanitariums. Surely the medical profession knows something about it. So little, you say? But why? Messy. Yes, I’ll admit there is nothing messier than an alcoholic drunk.

What’s that Doc? You know a couple of fellows that were steady customers here that haven’t been drunk for about ten months? You say they claim they are cured? And they make an avocation of passing it on to others? What have they got? You don’t know . . . and you don’t believe they are cured . . . well why tell me about it? A fine fellow you say, plenty of money, and you’re sure it isn’t a racket . . . just wants to be helpful . . . call him up for me will you, Doc?

How Doc had hated to tell me. Thoughts stop knocking at my door. Why can’t I get drunk like other people, get up next morning, toss my head a couple of times and go to work? Why do I have to shake so I can’t hold the razor? Why does every little muscle inside me have to feel like a crawling worm? Why do even my vocal cords quiver so words are gibberish until I’ve had a big drink? Poison! Of course! But how could anyone understand such a necessity for a drink that it has to be loaded with pepper to keep it from bouncing? Can any mortal understand such secret shame in having to have a drink as to make a person keep the bottles hidden all over the house. The morning drink . . . shame and necessity . . . weakness . . . remorse. But what do the family know about it? What do doctors know about it? Little Doc was right, they know nothing. They just say “Be strong”-”Don’t take that drink”-”Suffer it through.”

What the hell do they know about suffering? Not sickness. Not a belly ache-oh yes, your guts get so sore that you cannot place your hands on them . . . oh sure, every time you go you twist and writhe in pain. What the hell does any non-alcoholic know about suffering? Thoughts . . . stop this mad merry-go-round. And worst of all this mental suffering-the hating yourself-the feeling of absurd, irrational weakness-the unworthiness. Out that window! Use the gun in the drawer! What about poison? Go out in a garage and start the car. Yeah, that’s the way out . . . but then people’ll say “He was plastered.” I can’t leave that story behind. That’s worse than cowardly.

Isn’t there some one who understands? Thoughts . . . please, oh please, stop . . . I’m going nuts . . . or am I nuts now? Never . . . never again will I take another drink, not even a glass of beer . . . even that starts it. Never . . . never . . . never again . . . and yet I’ve said that a dozen times and inexplicably I’ve found an empty glass in my hand and the whole story repeated. My Lord, the tragedy that sprang out of her eyes when I came home with a breath on me . . . and fear. The smiles wiped off the kids’ faces. Terror stalking through the house. Yes . . . that changed it from a home into a house. Not drunk yet, but they knew what was coming. Mr. Hyde was moving in.

And so I’m going to die. Or a wet brain. What was it that fellow said who was here this afternoon? Damn fool thought . . . get out of my mind. Now I know I’m going nuts. And science knows nothing about it. And psychiatrists. I’ve spent plenty on them. Thoughts, go away! No . . . I don’t want to think about what that fellow said this afternoon.

He’s trying . . . idealistic as hell . . . nice fellow, too. Oh, why do I have to suffer with this revolving brain? Why can’t I sleep? What was it he said? Oh yes, came in and told about his terrific drunks, his trips up here, this same thing I’m going through. Yes, he’s an alcoholic all right. And then he told me he knew he was cured. Told me he was peaceful . . . (I’ll never know peace again) . . . that he didn’t carry constant fear around with him. Happy because he felt free. But it’s screwy. He said so himself. But he did get my confidence when he started to tell what he had gone through. It was so exactly like my case. He knows what this torture is. He raised my hopes so high; it looked as though he had something. I don’t know, I guess I was so sold that I expected him to spring some kind of a pill and I asked him desperately what it was.

And he said “God.”
And I laughed.
A ball bat across my face would have been no greater shock. I was so high with hope and expectation. How can a man be so heartless? He said that it sounded screwy but it worked, at least it had with him . . . said he was not a religionist . . . in fact didn’t go to church much . . . my ears came up at that . . . his unconventionality attracted me . . . said that some approaches to religion were screwy . . . talked about how the simplest truth in the world had been often all balled up by complicating it . . . that attracted me . . . get out of my mind . . . what a fine religious bird I’d be . . . imagine the glee of the gang at me getting religion . . . phooey . . . thoughts, please slow down . . . why don’t they give me something to go to sleep . . . lie down in green pastures . . . the guy’s nuts . . . forget him.

And so it’s the mad house for me . . . glad mother is dead, she won’t have to suffer that . . . if I’m going nuts maybe it’d be better to be crazy the way he is . . . at least the kids wouldn’t have the insane father whisper to carry through life . . . life’s cruel . . . the puny-minded, curtain hiding gossips . . . “didn’t you know his father was committed for insanity?” What a sly label that would be to hang on those boys . . . damn the gossiping, reputation-shredding, busybodies who put their noses into other people’s business.

He’d laid in this same dump . . . suffered . . . gone through hell . . . made up his mind to get well . . . studied alcoholism . . . Jung . . . Blank Medical Foundation . . . asylums . . . Hopkins . . . many said incurable disease . . . impossible . . . nearly all known cures had been through religion . . . revolted him . . . made a study of religion . . . more he studied the more it was bunk to him . . . not understandable . . . self-hypnotism . . . and then the thought hit him that people had it all twisted up. They were trying to pour everyone into moulds, put a tag on them, tell them what they had to do and how they had to do it, for the salvation of their own souls. When as a matter of fact people were through worrying about their souls, they wanted action right here and now. A lot of tripe was usually built up around the simplest and most beautiful ideas in the world.

And how did he put the idea . . . bunk . . . bunk . . . why in hell am I still thinking about him . . . in hell . . . that’s good . . . I am in hell. He said: “I came to the conclusion that there is SOMETHING. I know not what It is, but It is bigger than I. If I will acknowledge It, if I will humble myself, if I will give in and bow in submission to that SOMETHING and then try to lead a life as fully in accord with my idea of good as possible, I will be in tune.” And later the word good contracted in his mind to God.

But mister, I can’t see any guy with long white whiskers up there just waiting for me to make a plea . . . and what did he answer . . . said I was trying to complicate it . . . why did I insist on making It human . . . all I had to do was believe in some power greater than myself and knuckle down to It . . . and I said maybe, but tell me mister why are you wasting your time up here? Don’t hand me any bunk about it being more blessed to give than to receive . . . asked him what this thing cost and he laughed. He said it wasn’t a waste of time . . . in doping it out he had thought of something somebody had said. A person never knew a lesson until he tried to pass it on to someone else. And that he had found out every time he tried to pass this on It became more vivid to him. So if we wanted to get hard boiled about it, he owed me, I didn’t owe him. That’s a new slant . . . the guy’s crazy as a loon . . . get away from him brain . . . picture me going around telling other people how to run their lives . . . if I could only go to sleep . . . that sedative doesn’t seem to take hold.

He could visualize a great fellowship of us . . . quietly passing this from alcoholic to alcoholic . . . nothing organized . . . not ministers . . . not missionaries . . . what a story . . . thought we’d have to do it to get well . . . some kind of a miracle had happened in his life . . . common sense guy at that . . . his plan does fire the imagination.

Told him it sounded like self hypnotism to me and he said what of it . . . didn’t care if it was yogi-sim, self-hypnotism, or anything else . . . four of them were well. But it’s so damn hypocritical . . . I get beat every other way and then I turn around and lay it in God’s lap . . . damned if I ever would turn to God . . . what a low-down, cowardly, despicable trick that would be . . . don’t believe in God anyway . . . just a lot of hooey to keep the masses in subjugation . . . world’s worst inquisitions have been practiced in His name . . . and he said . . . do I have to turn into an inquisitionist . . . if I don’t knuckle down, I die . . . why the low-down missionary . . . what a bastardly screw to put on a person . . . a witch burner, that’s what he is . . . the hell with him and all his damn theories . . . witch burner.

Sleep, please come to my door . . . that last was the eight hundred and eighty-fifth sheep over the fence . . . guess I’ll put in some black ones . . . sheep . . . shepherds . . . wise men . . . what was that story . . . hell there I go back on that same line . . . told him I couldn’t understand and I couldn’t believe anything I couldn’t understand. He said he supposed then that I didn’t use electricity. No one actually understood where it came from or what it was. Nuts to him. He’s got too many answers. What did he think the nub of the whole thing was? Subjugate self to some power above . . . ask for help . . . mean it . . . try to pass it on. Asked him what he was going to name this? Said it would be fatal to give it any kind of a tag . . . to have any sort of formality.

I’m going nuts . . . tried to get him into an argument about miracles . . . about Immaculate Conception . . . about stars leading three wise men . . . Jonah and the whale. He wanted to know what difference those things made . . . he didn’t even bother his head about them . . . if he did, he would get tight again. So I asked him what he thought about the Bible. Said he read it, and used those things he understood. He didn’t take the Bible literally as an instruction book, for there was no nonsense you could not make out of it that way.

Thought I had him when I asked about the past sins I had committed. Guess I’ve done everything in the book . . . I supposed I would have to adopt the attitude that all was forgiven . . . here I am pure and clean as the driven snow . . . or else I was to go through life flogging myself mentally . . . bah. But he had the answer for that one too. Said he couldn’t call back the hellish things he had done, but he figured life might be a ledger page. If he did a little good here and there, maybe the score would be evened up some day. On the other hand, if he continued as he had been going there would be nothing but debit items on the sheet. Kind of common sense.

This is ridiculous . . . have I lost all power of logic . . . would I fall for all that religious line . . . let’s see if I can’t get to thinking straight . . . that’s it . . . I’m trying to do too much thinking . . . just calm myself . . . quietly . . . quiet now . . . relax every muscle . . . start at the toes and move up . . . insane . . . wet brain . . . those boys . . . what a mess my life is . . . mistress . . . how I hate her . . . ah . . . I know what’s the matter . . . that fellow gave me an emotional upset . . . I’ll list every reason I couldn’t accept his way of thinking. After laughing at this religious stuff all these years I’d be a hypocrite. That’s one. Second, if there was a God, why all this suffering? Wait a minute, he said that was one of the troubles, we tried to give God some form. Make It just a Power that will help. Third, it sounds like the Salvation Army. Told him that and he said he was not going around singing on any street corners but nevertheless the Salvation Army did a great work. Simply, if he heard of a guy suffering the torments, he told him his story and belief.

There I go thinking again . . . just started to get calmed down . . . sleep . . . boys . . . insane . . . death . . . mistress . . . life all messed up . . . business. Now listen, take hold . . . what am I going to do? NEVER . . . that’s final and in caps. Never . . . that’s net no discount. Never . . . never . . . and my mind is made up. NEVER am I going to be such a cowardly low down dog as to acknowledge God. The two faced, gossiping Babbitts can go around with their sanctimonious mouthings, their miserable worshipping, their Bible quotations, their holier-than-thou attitudes, their nicey-nice, Sunday-worshipping, Monday-robbing actions, but never will they find me acknowledging God. Let me laugh . . . I’d like to shriek with insane glee . . . my mind’s made up . . . insane, there it is again.

Brrr, this floor is cold on my knees . . . why are the tears running like a river down my cheeks . . . God, have mercy on my soul

alcohol treatment, sober living magazine, planning intervention


Saturday Evening Post Cover, March 1, 1941

The Jack Alexander Article
(From the March 1, 1941 issue of The Saturday Evening Post)



The Man On The Bed 

Alcoholics Anonymous


THREE MEN sat around the bed of an alcoholic patient in the psychopathic ward of Philadelphia General Hospital one afternoon a few weeks ago. The man in the bed, who was a complete stranger to them, had the drawn and slightly stupid look the inebriates get while being defogged after a bender. The only thing that was noteworthy about the callers, except for the obvious contrast between their well-groomed appearances and that of the patient, was the fact that each had been through the defogging process many times himself. They were members of Alcoholics Anonymous, a band of ex-problem drinkers who make an avocation of helping other alcoholics to beat the liquor habit.  


The man in the bed was a mechanic. His visitors had been educated at Princeton, Yale and Pennsylvania and were, by occupation, a salesman, a lawyer and a publicity man. Less than a year before, one had been in shackles in the same ward. One of his companions had been what is known among alcoholics as a sanitarium commuter. He had moved from place to place, bedeviling the staffs of the country’s leading institutions for the treatment of alcoholics. The other had spent twenty years of life, all outside institution walls, making life miserable for himself, and his family and his employers, as well as sundry well-meaning relatives who had had the temerity to intervene.  


The air of the ward was thick with the aroma of paraldehyde, an unpleasant cocktail smelling like a mixture of alcohol and ether which hospitals sometimes use to taper off the paralyzed drinker and soothe his squirming nerves. The visitors seemed oblivious of this and of the depressing atmosphere of psychopathic wards. They smoked and talked with the patient for twenty minutes or so, then left their personal cards and departed. If the man in the bed felt that he would like to see one of them again, they told him, he had only to put in a telephone call.  


THEY MADE it plain that if he actually wanted to stop drinking, they would leave their work or get up in the middle of the night to hurry to where he was. If he did not choose to call, that would be the end of it. The members of Alcoholics Anonymous do not pursue or coddle a malingering prospect, and they know the strange tricks of the alcoholic as a reformed swindler knows the art of bamboozling.  


Herein lies much of the unique strength of a movement, which in the past six years, has brought recovery to around 2,000 men and women, a large percentage of whom had been considered medically hopeless. Doctors and clergymen, working separately or together, have always managed to salvage a few cases. In isolated instances, drinkers have found their own methods of quitting. But the inroads into alcoholism have been negligible, and it remains one of the great, unsolved public-health enigmas.  


By nature touchy and suspicious, the alcoholic likes to be left alone to work out his puzzle, and he has a convenient way of ignoring the tragedy which he inflicts meanwhile upon those who are close to him. He holds desperately to a conviction that, although he has not been able to handle alcohol in the past, he will ultimately succeed in becoming a controlled drinker. One of medicine’s queerest animals, he is, as often as not, an acutely intelligent person. He fences with professional men and relatives who attempt to aid him and he gets a perverse satisfaction out of tripping them up in argument.  


THERE IS no specious excuse for drinking which the troubleshooters of Alcoholics Anonymous have not heard or used themselves. When one of their prospects hands them a rationalization for getting soused, they match it with a half a dozen out of their own experience. This upsets him a little, and he gets defensive. He looks at their neat clothing and smoothly shaved faces and charges them with being goody-goodies who don’t know what it is to struggle with drink. They reply by relating their own stories: the double Scotches and brandies before breakfast; the vague feeling of discomfort which precedes a drinking bout; the awakening from a spree without being able to account for the actions of several days and the haunting fear that possibly they had run down someone with their automobiles.  


They tell of the eight-ounce bottles of gin hidden behind pictures and in caches from cellar to attic; of spending whole days in motion-picture houses to stave off the temptation to drink; of sneaking out of the office for quickies during the day. They talk of losing jobs and stealing money from their wives’ purses; of putting pepper into whiskey to give it a tang; of tippling on bitters and sedative tablets, or on mouthwash or hair tonic; of getting into the habit of camping outside the neighborhood tavern ten minutes before opening time. They describe a hand so jittery that it could not lift a pony to the lips without spilling the contents; drinking liquor from a beer stein because it can be steadied with two hands, although at the risk of chipping a front tooth; tying an end of a towel about a glass, looping the towel around the back of the neck, and drawing the free end with the other hand; hands so shaky they feel as if they were about to snap off and fly into space; sitting n hands for hours to keep them from doing this.  


These and other bits of drinking lore usually manage to convince the alcoholic that he is talking to blood brothers. A bridge of confidence is thereby erected, spanning a gap, which has baffled the physician, the minister, the priest, or the hapless relatives. Over this connection, the troubleshooters convey, bit by bit, the details of a program for living which has worked for them and which, they feel, can work for any other alcoholic. They concede as out of their orbit only those who are psychotic or who are already suffering from the physical impairment known as wet brain. At the same time, they see to it that the prospect gets whatever medical attention is needed.  


MANY DOCTORS and staffs of institutions throughout the country now suggest Alcoholics Anonymous to their drinking patients. In some towns, the courts and probation officers cooperate with the local group. In a few city psychopathic divisions, the workers of Alcoholics Anonymous are accorded the same visiting privileges as staff members. Philadelphia General is one of these. Dr. John F. Stouffer, the chief psychiatrist, says: “the alcoholics we get here are mostly those who cannot afford private treatment, and this is by far the greatest thing we have ever been able to offer them. Even among those who occasionally land back in here again, we observe a profound change in personality. You would hardly recognize them”.

alcohol rehabilitation, 30 days sober, living the sober life

Nobody wants to be judged; especially when they’ve done something they aren’t proud of. That is the beauty of the twelve step program. These programs are based on the idea that their only purpose is to work on personal recovery. The most famous of the twelve-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous, which is basically a recovery guide from alcoholism. Since the onset of A.A., there have been many different groups that have used the AA principles for recovery. A few examples are: Narcotics Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous.

As the name implies, there are twelve steps or principles by which the program is run. They are as follows:

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.

How are these principles used to recover?

Being involved in the twelve step program involves working the steps. Working the Twelve Steps involves: admitting to having a serious problem, recognizing there is an outside power that could help, consciously relying upon that power, admitting and listing character defects, seeking deliverance from defects, apologizing to those individuals one has harmed and helping others with the same problem.

How did the other programs develop from Alcoholics Anonymous?
As said prior, the original twelve step program began with alcoholics Anonymous. It was found, that when an individual did adhere to the principles of the twelve step program quality of life improved within the family unit. This resulted in approximately fifty different twelve step program groups. The reason for this is simple. The beauty of A.A., why it works so well, is that the people involved in the program have themselves gone through recovery and understand the problems current participants are experiencing. For this reason, groups for different substances arose. In addition, other groups that deal specifically with behavioral problems sprouted up as well. The twelve steps are used to work out problems like: sexual compulsion, gambling and even dealing with debts.

How did the twelve step program begin?

The first program was Alcoholics Anonymous and began in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Most of the ideas of the twelve step program were derived from the Christian Endeavor Movement as well as ideas about abstinence, conversion, elimination of sin, obedience to God, and growth in Fellowship through Bible study and prayer and religious literature.

From the twelve steps, arose what is called The Twelve Traditions, a set of guidelines for running groups. In effect, The Twelve Traditions is the establishment or constituition of the Twelve Step programs.

What are the Twelve Traditions?

They are as follows:

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
2. 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.
3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
5. Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. 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.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

How Does the Meeting Process Work?

“Hi, I’m Eric and I’m an alcoholic.” At these meetings it is recognized that one must recognize that they have a problem, so many members open by actively admitting they have a problem. One is supposed to share experiences with the group whether they be good or bad and the group is to provide peer support. There is some controversy because twelve steps are associated with religion, which not everyone adheres to.

How Does Sponsorship Work?

A sponsor is an individual who is more experienced then the sponsee in following the twelve steps. In fact, individuals new to the program are encouraged to form a relationship with a sponsor right away. Sponsorship is important not only for the sponsee, but also for the sponsor. By helping the new individual, the sponsor themselves continues to work on themselves. Therefore, the benefits of this program works two fold.

What is Acceptance of a Higher Power?

For most afflicted persons, holding on to willful self-reliance, instead of relinquishing control can work against them. Therefore, one of the main characteristics of the twelve step program is to start relying on “God” or another Higher Power—whatever that is to that person. Even for agnostics and atheists, if they can identify a power larger than themselves, thereby admitting their powerlessness, they can recover.

What is the success rate of Twelve-Step Programs?

Twelve step programs have a reputation for working well. Of course, everyone is different, and often time addicts use more methodology than just the twelve steps. Going to for rehabilitative therapy may also accompany utilizing the twelve steps for a more secure recovery.

Rachel Hayon, BSN, MPH

This article was last modified on 7/17/2007.

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