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About the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-Step Recovery Program

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    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percent of people over the age of 18 who are regular drinkers — defined by at least 12 drinks in the past 12 months — is 51.5 percent.

    Origins and Purpose Of AA

    The original program was focused on spirituality, religion, and God having an impact on changing a person's life, but depending on the program you attend, these 12 steps may be altered for the audience.

    AA is completely confidential, and it is assumed that all participants will remain anonymous. No participant is supposed to discuss others outside the group, and this is for safety and reputation's sake.

    Statistics and Values of AA

    Another statistic on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website shows that alcohol-induced deaths, which included homicides and accidents, totaled 25,692. Due to the amount that people in the United States drink, it's no wonder that Alcoholics Anonymous has become one of the major alcohol dependency and addiction programs available.

    The Importance of Sponsors

    Join the Conversation: Alcoholics Anonymous

    Group TherapyDiscuss 12-step alcoholism support groups, including AA, on our online forum with others in recovery.Go there

    Participants are usually told to accept a sponsor from the group. This is a person who has already successfully passed through the program. The person will act as a focus for support and will help the participant through the stages of the program.

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step recovery program that has helped many people stop the use of alcohol.

    The point of this relationship is for the new participant to harbor a strong bond with another person. The two, realistically, are helping each other recover, although one may be further along the program than another. AA assumes that healing is a constant process, not one that you finish after the 12th step.

    12-Step Programs In Your Area

    There are many AA programs all around the United States. If you'd like help finding one in your area, call our 24-hour hotline at 1-888-966-8334. We can help you find a group that fits your personality and religion so that you can feel comfortable with the people who you meet. Our hotline is available seven days per week, and you can call us whenever you're ready.

    Steps to Recovery

    AA Step 1

    "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable." The first step of AA is to admit that you have a problem. Those who are not ready to admit to a problem may not be able to seek the help they need, and they may be more likely to return to drinking. Accepting that a problem exists and facing it may be difficult, but it makes the person aware of it. Admitting it to other people enforces the issue.

    AA Step 2

    "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Many programs focus on participants having hope and faith that they will return to a healthy state. These programs may involve God, spirituality and meditation in the healing process. Not all programs focus on religion, however.

    AA Step 3

    "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." AA is not strictly a Christian organization. Different groups work with different types of spirituality and religions, and choosing the right one can help participants feel more comfortable and accepted.

    AA Step 4

    "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." A major step that happens after admitting a problem is admitting to your faults. Each participant in the program has to look at his past and present situations and determine any faults that he has. By admitting to these problems, the group and the individual can try to fix them.

    AA Step 5

    "Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." Knowing what you have done wrong and admitting it are two very different things. Admitting past errors and wrongs to a group and receiving support to change your life is a part of AA that all participants go through.

    AA Step 6

    "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." Once you've admitted all the problems and faults of character, it is time to let go and accept that it is time to change. Accepting responsibility for the change is part of this step.

    AA Step 7

    "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." Since a major part of most AA groups is spirituality, this step focuses on healing, prayer, meditation, hope and faith.

    AA Step 8

    "Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." Sometimes, people come to AA thinking there is no way back from their current situations. But, that isn't always the case. By making a list of all the people harmed by the alcoholism and being willing to try to make amends, a participant is accepting responsibility and understanding what has been wrong in his life. This step is more about the planning and acceptance of making amends rather than completing the task.

    AA Step 9

    "Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." In many cases, admitting you're wrong, apologizing and informing a person that you're getting help is enough to have that person's support. However, sometimes people have been seriously hurt or are in a position where an apology or trying to make amends would make a situation worse. Through the group, decisions can be made as to who will be best served by trying to make amends and who may be more hurt by it than anything else. For instance, drunk driving accidents may be something a person wants to apologize for, but not all people will be ready to hear an apology.

    AA Step 10

    "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." A major part of the program is continuing to take responsibility for your actions. If you fall back into drinking, it's important to stop and admit it. Relapses are normal, and the group can be supportive while you're healing. Admitting trouble with quitting, or trouble with other parts of your life, are not signs of weakness. It is meant to help keep participants on track to a healthier lifestyle.

    AA Step 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 he power to carry that out." Whether or not a person is religious, this allows him to have quiet time where he can reflect on the day, what has happened recently and the things he needs to do to make his life better.

    AA Step 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." Another serious aspect of the 12-step program is giving back to the community that has helped you to receive the treatment you needed. The main point of this is to help others seek help when they need it and sometimes to give a person someone else to feel responsible for, as this can help them focus on more positive aspects of life. Community service, aiding others and working with future AA groups are all normal choices for this step.

    More Information about AA and the 12-Step Program

    The 12-step program has been successful for many people, and it can be successful for you or a loved one as well. If you would like more information on a 12-step program near you, call us at 1-888-966-8334. We are available to talk to you about your options 24 hours a day, seven days a week.