The twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are a secular guide to living a sober life. When Bill W. began his recovery, he used a six-step program based on principles from the Oxford Group, a religious movement founded in the beliefs of early Christianity. The steps as Bill adopted them were:
1. We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.
2. We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.
3. We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.
4. We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.
5. We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.
6. We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts.
With the aid of agnostic and atheist members of AA, Bill Wilson rewrote the steps in 1948 to emphasize a spiritual, rather than a “God” connection. These steps and principles have been the AA program since the publication of the AA text, known as “The Big Book.” They are a design for living a life in recovery.
There’s no requirement in AA to accept or follow the 12 steps. All that’s asked is that one keeps an open mind, listens to others, and reads some literature to decide for oneself.
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.