Seeking out sources of inspiration is essential for those in recovery. Look no further than your local Alcoholics Anonymous chapter for a treasure trove of inspiration. It is highly likely you’ll find the motivational A.A. slogans in plain sight at any Twelve Step meeting you attend.
Inspiration is foundational in the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The principles upon which the organization was built, and the Twelve Steps themselves, are designed to inspire folks to continue improving their life through their commitment to sobriety.
Alcoholics Anonymous remains a free, non-denominational peer-based network, serving members worldwide. Even during the pandemic, with in-person meetings unavailable at times, the recovery meetings simply shifted to online platforms. This has allowed members and others seeking help to continue to support and inspire each other through A.A.
The Alcoholics Anonymous Founders
The abstinence-based addiction recovery program known as Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) has remained consistent to its roots with only slight modifications over the years. The founders, William G. Wilson, “Bill W.” and Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D., “Dr. Bob,” residents of Akron, Ohio, started the program in 1935. The two men based the recovery program on the concept of exercising spiritual values in daily life in order to overcome alcohol addiction.
A.A. began with a group of about 100 people and by 1941 the number had grown to 2,000 members. Today, approximately 2 million people are actively involved in the A.A. Twelve Step program.
The infamous manual, Alcoholics Anonymous, or “The Big Book,” was published in 1939. It contained both a description of the Twelve Step program and the personal stories of individuals who had overcome alcoholism through the program. The Big Book is now on its 4th edition.
Alcoholics Anonymous Definition and Its Traditions
So, what exactly is Alcoholics Anonymous? A.A. is a recovery fellowship, where members of all walks of life are invited to work their way through the Twelve Steps to attain a sustained recovery through personal spiritual growth. The meetings are held in schools, community centers, churches, and office buildings around the world, and strictly adhere to a prescribed format.
A set of Twelve Traditions helps define the parameters of A.A’s purpose and how the organization will function. These include stipulations such as the desire to keep identities anonymous, to avoid publicity and any affiliation with other organizations or religious entities, to be open to all people regardless of their beliefs or values, to be self-supporting, and to be willing to help other members in their recovery journey.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
The Twelve Steps of A.A. are based upon the need for a Higher Power to assist the transformation toward sobriety. The Twelve Steps, as published by Alcoholics Anonymous, include:
- 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 Role of A.A. in Recovery
A.A. has created a peer-based, nonprofessional program that helps people obtain sustained sobriety by taking the process one benchmark at a time. By providing this structure to the recovery process, individuals acquire a sense of hope for the future. The fellowship aspect of A.A. provides an excellent sobriety support element for those who have completed a treatment program.
Another powerful aspect of A.A. is the concept of being of service to others. It has been found that those who offer support to others, either by becoming a sponsor or volunteering at A.A. events or meetings, can help solidify their own recovery. Therefore, service to others is highly recommended for members who have achieved at least one year of sobriety.
A.A.’s Twelve Step program has become ubiquitous with substance use recovery for decades. Its long-running success can be attributed to the foundational concept of peer support. People in recovery thrive when they believe that others value them—something this kind of fellowship can provide.
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