The World Health Organization reports that more than 2 billion people around the world consume alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Of those, about 76 million have alchol disorders, like excessive drinking and alcohol dependence.
The personal, societal, economic and spiritual consequences of addiction, particular dependence on alcohol, have taken their toll on men and women around the world. But, 12-Step Programs are available to help people find the road to recovery and a better life. Anyone who has a family member struggling with the pain of dependence and addiction to alcohol knows how much the 12-Step Programs mean to their loved ones and their families.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous?
Founded in 1935, AA is a “fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” AA chapters endeavor to help members take control of their lives. The only requirement for AA membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It isn’t.
12 Step Meetings Around the World
Members participate in meetings that are sponsored in practically every community around the world. Meetings are anonymous so that open sharing, where members describe their struggles and experiences, is protected and healing can begin. Sharing enables individuals who are dependent or addicted to overcome the isolation that tags along as a companion to this devasting condition and illness.
The 12 Steps have been adapted by other groups and organizations to address other forms of addiction, dependence and destructive or dysfunctional behavior. Since the advent of 12-Step Programs, treatment and recovery from chemical and substance dependency is altogether possible. The 12 Steps have made such a big difference in promoting positive health outcomes and recovery from addiction that even the courts have promoted their usefulness and cause.
Why 12 Steps? Why not 5?
AA members use the 12 Steps to get sober and recover from alcohol dependence and addiction. The 12 Steps offer clear guidance or decision points for an individual with a drinking problem and ways to overcome the addiction’s grip on his/her life. Of course, the original members of AA probably appreciated that 5 Steps simply weren’t enough to beat addiction and 20 Steps would be too many.
The 12 Steps aim to neutralize the power of addiction and look to a “Higher Power” for strength, courage and, ultimately, triumph over alcohol use, abuse and addiction. The 12 Steps provide goals and action strategies for alcoholics to undertake on the long road to recovery. Goal setting helps the dependent and addicted reach for something other than alcohol or drugs. Goal setting helps the dependent and addicted achieve a measure of success along the long road to recovery. While many of us may take planning and goal setting for granted, for the dependent and addicted, it’s a significant accomplishment when, indeed, alcohol and other behaviors have taken over center stage.
How 12 Steps Are Adapted By Other Recovery Groups
This simple but powerful recovery tool went far beyond helping alcoholic men and women beat their addiction. The method was later adapted by other groups and became the foundation for other meaningful 12-Step Programs such as Emotions Anonymous, Emotional Health Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Workaholics Anonymous, Dual Recovery Anonymous, among dozens of others around the world.
If you know anyone who has participated in these and other 12-Step Programs, you know how effective they can be in terms of helping the individual or loved one overcome dependency and addiction. 12 Steps may sound like a little, but for the dependent and addicted, these are huge benchmarks on the road to a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
Big Book Online (4th Edition)
Official Website – 12Step.Org
Alcoholics Anonymous. Chapter 5: How It Works. Alcoholics Anonymous (4th Edition), June 2001.
World Health Organization, Global Status Report: Alcohol Policy, 2004.