Most people have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12-steps, whether they have any experience with addiction or not. This organisation has been around since the 1930s and was started by Bill Wilson (Bill W) and Dr Robert Smith (Dr Bob).
Since that time, AA has grown in strength and has helped millions of people around the world to maintain their sobriety. The idea behind the fellowship support group is that by sharing experiences and stories, members can get sober and stay sober.
The group is based on 12 steps, and the principle has been adopted by many other organisations and fellowship groups around the globe. Most rehab clinics and institutions are grounded in the fundamentals of the 12-step programme of abstinence, so those in recovery from a variety of organisations may find that they are encouraged to work through the 12-steps and attend regular meetings. But what are the 12-steps?
The 12-Step Programme
The 12-steps form the basis of fellowship groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. They are split into sections, with the first three called the â€˜decision stepsâ€™. Steps four to nine are known as the â€˜action stepsâ€™ while steps ten to twelve are the â€˜maintenance stepsâ€™. Below are the 12-steps as per the Alcoholics Anonymous website:
The Decision Steps
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol â€“ that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2 : Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The Action Steps
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
The Maintenance Steps
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
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 the power to carry that out.
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.
If you are new to recovery, you may be worried about what a fellowship meeting will be like, and you might be feeling apprehensive about the 12-steps and what these mean. The reality is that fellowship meetings are typically informal social groups at which members get together to share stories and experiences.
You may be nervous about your first meeting, and this is entirely reasonable. You will never be forced to stand up and talk in front of others, and if you prefer to just sit and listen for the first few meetings, that is entirely your choice. Only those who want to talk will do so. You may find, however, that after a few meetings you are ready to share your experiences; you will probably find that this is extremely beneficial to your recovery.
Remember, everyone at the meeting was once where you are now and by looking around, you will be able to see how far they have come. It is very likely that you will find fellowship meetings inspirational and motivational.