Learning more about the 12-step program

Alcoholics Anonymous was the original twelve step recovery program. It was founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson, a stockbroker, and Dr. Bob Smith, a physician. The program spread to New York City, Bill Wilson’s home, shortly thereafter. Today there are thousands of AA meetings all over the world.

The AA program’s primary written resource is the AA “Big Book”, simply entitled “Alcoholics Anonymous.”  The book is now in its fourth edition.

The Al-Anon program is a twelve-step program of recovery for friends and families of alcoholics. It was founded in 1951 by Anne B. and Lois Wilson (Bill’s wife). Today there are hundreds of twelve step recovery programs for every kind of addiction. These programs include Narcotics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, Online Gamers Anonymous, and programs for Overeaters, Gamblers, Debtors, Clutterers, Sexaholics, Workaholics, and Adult Children of Alcoholics. Most of these programs have meetings in the Dubuque area.

The twelve steps of AA, suggested as a program of recovery from alcoholism, are listed below:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood him.
  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 alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Surrender to a higher power – the God of your understanding — is a core principle of the AA program. AA is a spiritual program, not a religious program. Members of AA come from every faith tradition and every walk of life.

Anonymity is another core principle in all of these twelve step programs, with the clearly stated goal of preserving members’ reputations and livelihoods.

There have been AA meetings on the Loras College campus at various times in the recent past, but no on-campus meeting currently exists. Students who may be interested in starting a meeting on campus should get in touch with Trish Borelli in the Counseling Center.

There are meetings of AA and Al-Anon every day of the week in the Dubuque area. For more information about meetings in the area, call or visit the Dubuque Area Intergroup at 1670 Asbury Road, Dubuque. The phone number there is 563-557-9196.

Information about AA can be found online by visiting ww.aa-iowa.org; information about Al-Anon can be found at iowa-al-anon.org.

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