The beginning of twelve step programs is usually traced back to 1935, when Bill W.
and Dr. Bob began first meeting together and with other alcoholics and began using a
12 step process for recovery from alcoholism. The organization that grew out of
these initial meetings came to be known as "Alcoholics Anonymous"
or A.A. and is the model for many subsequent 12 step groups that deal with different addictions besides alcoholism.
Because of the tremendous growth of 12 step programs since that time, there are a
great deal number of books, websites, treatment
facilities and other resources related to the 12 step program. The resources presented
here are some of the first and most "standard" references for working
the 12 step program. They should be valuable to anyone who wants to work a
recovery program using the 12 step approach.
First published in 1939 and subtitled The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and
Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, the Alcoholics Anonymous
(A.A.) 'Big Book', as it is commonly called, is the first text written
about the experiences of the founders of the A.A. movement. It tells the story of
Bill W., one of the co-founders of A.A. and how the program worked in the early days
of the movement. It is full of much timeless and practical wisdom and is the
first standard (and some would say the only standard) text of A.A. and,
subsequently, of 12 step programs.
You can read the book online (2nd edition)
or you can download the book
(496 KB download size) in PDF format.
The Promises come from the A.A. Big Book
and state the promises that are offered to those who sincerely work the 12 steps
The 12 Traditions also come from the
A.A. Big Book and state the traditions that grew out of experience while
trying to build an A.A. organization that would help others to effectively
recover from the disease of alcoholism.
These versions of the steps give the wording of the 12 steps for the different groups that have adopted this approach, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and many others. For the most part, the steps are usually very similar in wording, building on the wisdom of the initial 12 steps.
These meeting documents are links to documents that are used in 12 step meetings. They can be useful for investigating how a meeting works before you go to a meeting, or they can be used in the chairing and leadership of a meeting that you may be attending.
Historians have traced the genesis of the 12 step programs in Alcoholics Anonymous
(A.A) back to the Oxford Group, a Christian evangelistic movement from the early 1900s.
Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of A.A., after being visited by an old friend,
Ebby Thatcher, was restored to sobriety through the principles from the Oxford Group.
In the subsequent development of A.A., Bill Wilson eventually distanced himself
from the Oxford Group in order to reach out to Catholics and other groups who were
forbidden from or uncomfortable with the evangelical emphasis. However, many of the
traditions of the Oxford Group continue in the A.A. approach and the Scriptures
remain the foundation for recovery for many of those in A.A. and other 12 Step groups.
Commentaries on the Scriptures are presented in this section of our web site in
light of the 12 Step program. These comments are primarily the thoughts of one commentator
from 12Step.org, so please take them with a grain of salt and, as the 12 step saying
goes, "Take what you need and leave the rest".