Alcoholics Anonymous is "a band of ex-problem drinkers who make an avocation of helping other alcoholics to beat the liquor habit."  Their program was created to help alcoholics on the path to recovery from alcoholism. Founded on June 10, 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill W. and Dr. Bob, it utilizes a twelve step program to help those suffering from alcohol addiction to overcome their addiction, relying on faith in a "higher power." Both Wilson and Smith were members of the Oxford Group, a Christian reform movement started by Lutheran minister Frank Buchman, until about 1939 when the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" was published.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
- 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.
The Success of 12-Step Programs
The inclusiveness and support of 12-step programs has led to the model (and the "Anonymous" name) being extended to other addictions, such as narcotics ("Narcotics Anonymous"), gambling ("Gamblers Anonymous"), food ("Overeaters Anonymous") and illicit sex.
The "higher power" cited in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups does not necessarily refer to God. The phrase "God as we understood Him" allows members to choose other gods or "powers" to help them in their recovery. However, the Christian foundation of A.A. is evident by the inclusion of several quotes from the bible in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" and the use of the terms "Father" and "Creator" when referring to God.
Prayers of Alcoholics Anonymous
The Third Step Prayer
"God, I offer myself to Thee- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
The Seventh Step Prayer
"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen."
The Eleventh Step Prayer (The prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)
"Lord, make me a channel of thy peace - that where there is hatred, I may bring love- that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness- that where there is discord, I may bring harmony- that where there is error, I may bring truth- that where there is doubt, I may bring faith- that where there is despair, I may bring hope- that where there are shadows, I may bring light- that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted- to undersand than to be understood- to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen"
The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
- 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.
- The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
- 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.
- Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- 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.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.