What are the 12 steps?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

What are the 12 steps?

Postby Stepchild » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:19 am

I think coming into AA completely broken and hopeless....This was probably the biggest question I had. What are the 12 steps?...One of the best explanations I came across was written by Clarence Snyder...One of the original one hundred that helped write the Big Book and one who was sponsored by co-founder Dr. Bob.
I was reading another thread where a member was told by an old timer there was no "surrender" in AA....When actually...Surrender is one the four "phases" of the steps. They do mention these phases in the Big Book...From the ninth step promises...

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
Pg 83

I didn't want to post this in his thread....Because this is a little long....But maybe it can help someone new....Like it helped me...

THE STEPS OF A.A. - AN INTERPRETATION
by Clarence H. Snyder, January 1972
One of the "First Hundred", "The Home Brewmeister"
Started 1st group in Cleveland, OH, May 18, 1939

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a "booze cure" or a psychological means of controlling one's excessive or obsessive drinking. A.A. is a program, a life-changing program, and, in a great part, we owe our inception as a fellowship to our origin in the Oxford Group movement during the mid 1930's.

The Oxford Group was designed as a Life Changing program - and we in A.A. have for our own uses and affiliation, modified their program, chiefly by designing our twelve step program in a manner that the alcoholic who feels he needs and wants a change from what they are experiencing, can comfortably accept and apply the program and thereby change their life.

To do so, requires certain attitudes, willingness, and acts on our parts.

We have simplified the program, in the feeling that any alcoholic with an alcohol problem can live a life free of the obsession to drink.

Our program of the twelve steps is really accepted in four distinct phases, as follows:

1) Need (admission)
2) Surrender (submission)
3) Restitution
4) Construction and Maintenance

Edited by moderator for copying outside material. This is a very good article. Please google,

THE STEPS OF A.A. - AN INTERPRETATION
by Clarence H. Snyder, January 1972

to read in its entirety.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby whipping post » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:00 am

Good stuff Stepchild. Thank you for sharing that.

There was definately surrender involved in my experience. That's what set me free.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Reborn » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:15 am

This is fantastic...thanks Stepchild. My sponsor went over this exact writing with me when I completed the 1st nine steps. It really does give clear understanding of the steps and gave me some food for thought. Thanks for reminding me my friend!
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby positrac » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:25 am

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.


Agreed! I will say Stepchild I don't always agree with your methods and so I tend to agree to disagree even though our efforts and intentions are quite similar to get the message out to the one who suffers with alcohol and the new-comer in AA.

As I look back on my journey in the past 26 years I know I screwed the pooch on things I should of been more painstaking about and yet many events did work out in there own unique ways. Amazed is beyond that for me as progress I have been able to achieve via the BB, people from all walks of life and in the world in AA.

Real simple saying: If I can do it anyone can! meh that is nice and kind of uplifting; but if it were so easy everyone would be doing it and we know they ain't the case.

Thank for the post.
You must live your life from beginning to end: No one else can do it for you.
Hopi Proverb
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby PaigeB » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:36 am

I like the surrender it talks about right after the 9th Step Promises, on page 84...
"Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we ceased fighting anything, even alcohol..." I can, and DID, apply that to my life immediately ~ not waiting until Step 10 to cease fighting! AND I am still practicing.

But that is the 9th Step. My initial surrender was accepting that I had a disease, an allergy if you will.

Steps 10-12... I recently had a discussion with a friend who questioned why we call them the "Maintenance Steps" if we have to keep growing in our spiritual experience... :?

I now have a better description for her:
"Construction and Maintenance" Steps!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Patsy© » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:48 am

Stepchild, Thanks for posting that, Great AA there :)
Failed 12 Step Call? Not if we walk away sober!
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby ezdzit247 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:05 pm

Thanks for sharing this with us, Stepchild.

I loved this part of Clarence's ESH:

"Alcoholics Anonymous is not a "booze cure" or a psychological means of controlling one's excessive or obsessive drinking...."


I totally agree.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Brock » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:06 pm

Thanks Stepchild I like that very much. In particular he is very adamant about two things, both of which we have discussed here in the past. One is the idea of repeating steps 4 & 5, and the other is some people saying they have done the steps, but start each day asking God to keep them sober, when instead they might just give thanks, this is how he explains it -
Now that we have taken 9 steps!!! We have concluded 3 phases of our program. These 9 steps we have accomplished - so - FORGET THEM!!! They have required action and you have taken the action, so there is no need of repeating it!

Now then, do you see any place in the step thus far to suggest we pray for sobriety? Of course not, and it is absolutely unnecessary - you HAVE sobriety. Thank Him for it - but it is pointless to pray for what you already have.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Stepchild » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:07 pm

I like the surrender it talks about right after the 9th Step Promises, on page 84...
"Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we ceased fighting anything, even alcohol...


I don't look at that statement as an action I have to take....But more as a result of working the process of the first 9 steps. The fight isn't there anymore...That is the miracle of it. I fought alcohol most of my life. The fight is gone. They go on to say...

For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

When does this happen? After step 5 they say this...

The feeling that the drink problem has disappeared will often come strongly.

I can't pinpoint exactly when this happened....But that was pretty close to my experience. I wasn't fighting it anymore. That's a new freedom.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby PaigeB » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:24 pm

I don't look at that statement as an action I have to take...

LOL - I guess a lot of the things my sponsor has me do are kind of practicing NOT doing something. Like she told me, "I don't have to say everything that goes through my mind" and "DO NOT argue... you have resigned from the debate committee..."

So I practice non-action... which is kind of "I applied" this... I just try to remember to act lovingly.

:lol: :mrgreen: :wink:
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Stepchild » Thu Jun 16, 2016 1:53 pm

I'm not looking for a debate....I just view that paragraph as promises and not instructions...I had a conversation with a member here about the line...

If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame.

Like this is something we need to do....Rather than something that happens to us automatically....Materializes...If we work for it.

It's a shame you had to shorten the post....It's the reason I posted it in my own thread....So it wouldn't take up too much space with the 5 page limit in someone elses.. Who am I say to say what people should read or not read. Maybe we should have a place here where we can just post a bunch of google destinations. It's all good...At least it works.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby PaigeB » Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:06 pm

I did not shorten the post, but it is part of our Forum Guidleines
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=20141
‌• Please limit the copying and pasting of externally sourced material to short passages, which are intended as an aid in explaining the writers thoughts on any particular subject.


And I totally agree that it is one of the 10th Step Promises. No reason that one cannot try to implement a mental note to surrender though. That is just how I remembered it as I was coming up.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby tyg » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:39 am

I did the editing to keep within Forum guidelines. The article is easy to google and find. it is a really good one. :)

Alcoholics Anonymous is not a "booze cure" or a psychological means of controlling one's excessive or obsessive drinking. A.A. is a program, a life-changing program, and, in a great part, we owe our inception as a fellowship to our origin in the Oxford Group movement during the mid 1930's.


The 12 steps are a means to a complete psychic change. Those who do them and apply them will find a non-human miraculous power that changes and rearranges lives. Like AA says on page 63, we were reborn. On can google another good read. It is an old Oxford Group pamphlet, "How to listen to God." Even though I am of no religion I found this to be a very helpful addition to my meditations and be able to better hear that great reality found deep down within me.
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby krenee » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:32 pm

I find this very interesting. I've always heard of twelve step programs but never thought too much into the meaning and significance of them. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: What are the 12 steps?

Postby Feeya » Mon Aug 08, 2016 1:21 am

krenee wrote:I find this very interesting. I've always heard of twelve step programs but never thought too much into the meaning and significance of them. Thanks for sharing.

The 12 steps help me to a spiritual awakening.
To stay sober and be happy while doing so, I need to do more than just 'not drink'. I need a change of the mind and I need new solutions to my problems (others than drinking).
To me, doing my fifth step was a huuuge step in realising how important the steps truly are. I have never felt as free as I felt after step 5.
One day at a time.
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