Alcoholics Anonymous - The Original 12 Step Program
The original 12 Step Program is Alcoholics Anonymous - which deals with what they call the "powerlessness" to stop drinking alcohol. Although the 12 Steps have been adopted by other groups including Al-Anon for people impacted by having or having had alcoholics in their life, Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 Steps were designed and are only intended for use by alcoholics. The only requirement for membership of an Alcoholics Anonymous Group "is the desire to stop drinking".
Other twelve-step programs are similarly fellowships which aim to aid in the recovery of the consequences of an obsession, addiction, a physical and mental compulsion, or another harmful influence on their lives, with the help of the faith-based Twelve Steps dependent on reliance on "A Power Greater than ourselves". As is said in Alcoholics Anonymous, it is not just a matter of putting the cork in the bottle, the 12 Step Program deals with the underlying mental and emotional causes of the obsession with alcohol (or other substances in other Programs based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous).
These fellowships of men and women, a bond of loosely organized, autonomous groups, function on the basis of principles formulated in the Twelve Traditions. Synonyms are anonymous program and A-program; the original twelve-step program is Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A), which was started in the US. Today there are meetings and fellowships all over the world.
All twelve-step programs follow some version of the Twelve Steps. Members meet regularly to discuss their problem(s) and share their victories. Common among all such programs is the view that members are dealing with an illness rather than a bad habit or a maladaptive behavior, that the illness is a combination of an allergy of the body that creates uncontrollable cravings coupled with an obsession of the mind that keeps finding rationalizations for returning to that which causes the cravings, and that recovery from the illness can occur by abandonment of individual will through the Twelve Steps.
True to the Twelve Traditions, twelve-step programs do not take positions on outside issues such as medical ones. The word "illness" rather than "disease" was used by Bill Wilson, a co-founder of A.A. and the drafter of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous (which was co-written by the first hundred men to find recovery in A.A.).
One of the most widely-recognized characteristics of twelve-step groups is the requirement that members admit that they "have a problem". In this spirit, many members open their address to the group along the lines of, "Hi, I'm Pam and I'm an alcoholic" â¬" a catchphrase now widely identified with support groups.
Attendees at group meetings share their experiences, challenges, successes and failures, and provide peer support for each other. Many people who have joined these groups report they found success that previously eluded them, while others â¬" including some ex-members â¬" criticize their efficacy or universal applicability. Thus there is some controversy about twelve-step programs.