Twelve Step Programs

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God, grant me serenity ...

The Twelve Steps were written in the 1930s by Bill Wilson for the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, affectionately known as "The Big Book" to those who are active in AA. The steps have been cloned hundreds of times for other twelve-step groups, most notably Al-Anon, simply by changing one word in the first step.

The spirituality of the Twelve Steps is completely consistent with the Christian tradition, but it is designed to be used by anyone with any concept of a "higher power that could restore us to sanity" (second step). The steps are a most remarkable achievement in ecumenical synthesis and are well worth consideration by anyone who struggles with chronic difficulties in their own lives or among their family and friends.

AA's Twelve Suggested Steps for Recovery

Step Related passages
1. We admitted we were powerless over [alcohol], that our lives had become unmanageable. "I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:).
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Mk 2:17).
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. This is a version of The Infallible Prayer.
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 others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Serenity Prayer

As prayed most often

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The original prayer

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference,
living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Reinhold Niebuhr

With emphasis to aid memory

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference,

living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;

that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

Short form

[Blank] it!

Acceptance is the answer

"Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation--some fact of my life--unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober: unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes" (Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd edition, p. 449).

Twenty Questions for Drinkers

Keep track of how many "yes" answers you have to these questions: [1]

  • Do you lose time from work due to drinking?
  • Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
  • Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
  • Is your drinking affecting your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
  • Have you ever got into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
  • Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
  • Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
  • Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
  • Do you crave a drink at a definite time?
  • Do you want a drink the next morning?
  • Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  • Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
  • Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
  • Do you drink to escape from worries or trouble?
  • Do you drink alone?
  • Have you ever had a complete loss of memory as a result of drinking?
  • Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
  • Do you drink to build up your self-confidence?
  • Have you ever been to a hospital or institution because of drinking?

After you have done your level best to answer the questions, you may consult the Grade Scale for the Twenty Questions.

The Prevention Coalition (TPC)

The Prevention Coalition asked me to provide some links about identifying and recovering from addiction. I am happy to do so.

The motto of TPC is "Helping you help yourself." This is a reasonable and neutral standpoint. I personally don't like classifying the Twelve Steps as a "self-help" program. In studying the steps, it seems to me that it is a "God-help-me-help-others" program. A short summary of the steps is: "Trust God. Clean house. Help others."

Nevertheless, there are many ways to be addicted, and many ways to recover from addiction. Let the reader beware! Take what you like from these links, and heave the rest. Grace builds on nature, and there are lots of of suggestions on these pages about our human nature both under the influence of addiction and as we work to free ourselves of addiction.

At TPC, our collective goal is to empower community members, parents, educators and teenagers with the facts on drug use and abuse. We are working to identify authoritative resources on every aspect of substance abuse, ranging from prevention to addiction treatment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost *each year* in the United States from 2006 – 2010. Statistics like these make our jobs at TPC, an online information hub, that much more important.
Relevant resources on our site:
- Recognizing an Addiction Problem
- Signs of Addiction and Drug Use
- Helping an Adult Family Member or Friend with a Drug or Alcohol Problem
- What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs
- Genetics & Alcoholism: Alcohol Abuse in the Family
- Addictive Personality: How I Made it My Healthiest Trait
- Swim Back to Health: The Guide to Aquatic Therapy for Recovering Addicts
- Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief
- The Guide to Keeping Your Home Through Debilitating Disease

References

  1. "The 'Johns Hopkins Twenty Questions: Are You An Alcoholic?' was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Robert Seliger, who at that time was a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. It was intended for use as a self-assessment questionnaire to determine the extent of one's alcohol use. It was not intended to be used by professionals as a screening tool to help them formulate a diagnosis of alcoholism in their patients. We do not use this questionnaire at any of the Johns Hopkins substance abuse treatment programs. To the best of my knowledge, there have never been any reliable or validated studies conducted using the Hopkins Twenty Questions. I advise you to consider using other instruments such as the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test or the CAGE — both of which have proven reliability and validity as reported in the scientific literature" (a-1associates.com).

Links