Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 by two alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith (known as Bill W. and Dr. Bob) to respect the tradition of anonymity of members.
Alcoholism was ruining Bill’s life and the outlook for an alcoholic, at the time, was not good. By seeking out a higher power of his own understanding, Bill was able to get sober. However, Bill realized he would have to do more to stay sober. He began reaching out to other alcoholics, talking to them about his experience and how he was able to stop drinking. The first person to get sober with Bill’s help was Dr. Bob and they began working together.
Over time, the fellowship grew, and the members collaborated to write a book—known today as the “Big Book.” They also developed the Twelve Steps, which are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- 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.
Alcoholics Anonymous and its Twelve Steps have proven to be, by far, the most successful program of sobriety, of all time. Today, AA alone is estimated to have over 2 million members worldwide. To find an AA meeting nearest you, contact the resource center for your area, which can be found here.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous was created in Los Angeles in the early 1950s, by members who struggled with drug addiction as well as, or instead of, alcoholism. As the program grew in popularity, Alcoholics Anonymous allowed the group to adapt its Twelve Steps.
Narcotics Anonymous offers a solution for substance addicts who feel unwelcome, or like they do not fit in at Alcoholics Anonymous. NA views all mind-altering substances as drugs (including alcohol and marijuana) and defines sobriety as abstinence from these substances. They have their own book and, today, their membership rivals AA in size.
Other 12 Step groups
Today, many different Twelve Step groups exist. From Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, and Heroin Anonymous. However, groups exist for more than just substance use and include Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous. Groups like Al-Anon offer support for the loved ones of alcoholics and recovery from the devastation that having addiction in the family can cause.
These programs offer a solution to addiction, allowing members to recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Through sponsorship, attending meetings, and working the steps, people get and stay sober every day.