The 12 Steps

For Freedom from Addictive Behaviors

Steps 1 - 3 ... Out of Despair Find Hope

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - 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 God

Steps 4 - 7 ... "Clean House" by Taking Inventory

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 God to remove our shortcomings

Steps 8 - 9 ... "Clean House" by Making Amends

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

Steps 10 - 12 ... Continue "Cleaning" & Help 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 God, praying only for knowledge of God's 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 other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

About the 12 Step Program

Twelve Step programs are well known for their use in treating addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.

The first book written to cover the 12 step program was titled "Alcoholics Anonymous", affectionately known as the Big Book by program members. Following the subsequent extensive growth of twelve step programs for other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors, many additional books were written and recordings and videos were produced. These cover the steps in greater detail and how people have specifically applied the steps in their lives. An extensive chronology and background about the history of A.A. has been put together at Dick B.'s website.

The twelve steps of the program are listed above and on the steps page in generic form. Other groups who have adopted the 12 steps to address their own particular addictive or dysfunctional behavior have similar ideas, usually with only minor variations. These steps are meant to be worked sequentially as a process of getting rid of addictive behaviors and should result in a growth in freedom and happiness, as outlined in the Promises. The general governing approach for A.A. groups was originally laid out in the Twelve Traditions, and they remain the guiding principles for most 12 step groups today.

There is a wealth of further information about 12 Step programs in Wikipedia, including a list of 12 step groups, and also from the numerous links in our directory of recovery related websites.


byJoyful1, January 26, 2010
The Orange Papers
The Orange Papers "Twelve-Step Snake Oil" synopsis:

Extensive, certainly.

Reactionary, absolutely.

Demonstrating a true understanding of the 12 Steps, lacking.

Providing a workable alternative methodology for overcoming dysfunction and addiction, nowhere to be found.

"Twelve-Step Snake Oil" author A. Orange condemns 12 Step programs and their philosophies. Certainly no system is perfect and The 12 Steps has it's flaws. What becomes clear in A. Orange's diatribe is a lack of understanding of the subject. Recovery axioms and principals are taken at face value and refuted without investigating deeper meanings or how and why they are applied.


A. Orange lambasts Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed.D., and her book, "Adult Children of Alcoholics". He states, "Similarly, Woititz believes that she can describe people's personalities on the basis of only one single fact — that they are children of alcoholics." Orange refers to the "Laundry List" of characteristics that just about any group of ACOAs will tell you they identify with.

"Personalities" are not described as much as common traits. And yes, there are common traits amongst those that have suffered abuse and trauma. Just as incest survivors have common traits, those with eating disorders have common traits, so do ACOAs. Is that really so outlandish a concept?

Orange continues, "Item 11 (Adult children of alcoholics are super responsible or super irresponsible.) is another double-bind — damned if you do, and damned if you don't. You are a stereotypical ACOA no matter whether you are responsible or irresponsible — and whether you are guilty of "super" or extreme behavior is really just somebody's arbitrary value judgement."

Wrong again. It is not "somebody's" value judgment but each individual's judgement about whether or not it applies to them. Woititz is describing the dichotomy of "black/white" thinking. Of being out of balance and polarizing to one extreme or the other. This rigid, inflexible "all or nothing" thinking characterizes and is a component of dysfunctional thought patterns. Just ask an ACOA or anyone who has closely studied dysfunctional behavior if this is true.

More from A. Orange: "Adults who were terrorized and abused during their childhood may well be suffering from PTSD — Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — but that is a very different thing than the condition that Janet Woititz is describing."

So suffering from PTSD is accepted but not the other characteristics on the list. Without explanation as to why, Orange accepts one that condition is a possibility but not others. This is arbitrary and lacks intellectual merit.

Certainly, what Orange lacks in depth and understanding he makes up with in sheer volume of material. Unfortunately, without a more complete explanation of why he believes these tenants of recovery are flawed, it is hard to give much credence to his argument.