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.

Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book)

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

The Promises come from the A.A. Big Book and state the promises that are offered to those who sincerely work the 12 steps of recovery.

Twelve Traditions

The Twelve 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.

Versions of the Steps

This is a compilation of 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.

Meeting Documents

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.

The Bible and the 12 Steps

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 12 Step approach and the Bible remains a foundation for recovery for many of those in A.A. and other 12 Step groups.

Commentaries on the Bible 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, so please take them with a grain of salt and, as the 12 step saying goes, "Take what you need and leave the rest".


    Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous)
    The Promises of the Program
    The Bible and the Steps