Questions and Answers about A.A.'s 12 Steps

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
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Questions and Answers about A.A.'s 12 Steps

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:32 am

Questions and Answers about A.A.'s 12 Steps

1. What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

It’s the 12 Steps. The 12 Steps is the Program of Recovery. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is the A.A. Members.

2. What are the 12 Steps?

Big Book, Page 25: " ... the simple kit of spiritual tools ..."
The 12 Steps are 12 Spiritual Principles, that members of A.A. use to recover from alcoholism.

3. What are Spiritual Principles?

Spiritual = "Life"

Principle = "A basic truth, rule or law concerning the functioning of natural phenomena or mechanical processes."

Spiritual Principles = "Basic truths, rules or laws concerning the functioning of life’s natural phenomena and mechanical processes."

4. When the 12 Steps are taken (as in took the Steps) – and practiced (applied), they will:

a. Remove the mental obsession with alcohol.

b. Eliminate the emotional compulsion to drink

c. Produce a personality change – necessary for recovery

d. Produce a new attitude and outlook on life

e. Assist me to maintain emotional balance

f. Assist me to achieve emotional security – a life without fear

g. Help me to gain and grow in emotional maturity

h. Assist me to lead a useful life with purpose

i. Help me clean up the wreckage of the past

j. Assist me to have and maintain healthy positive relationships in my life

k. Produce peace and serenity in my life

l. Provide a way for me to be happy and sober

m. Be a Daily Design For Living, so that I can stay happy and sober

n. And, much, much more.

5. Can the 12 Steps be applied to other problems?


Over 300 fellowships (Other than Alcoholics Anonymous) with unique problems have adopted the 12 Steps as an application and solution to their own unique problems.

Does an A.A. member need to join other fellowships to use the 12 Steps for other problems?

That would be a personal and individual choice of the A.A. member. I personally have not had to join any other fellowships, even though I may have qualified to join them – and I have successfully used the 12 Steps to address the other problems in my life.

For myself, I prefer to keep my recovery within A.A., and specifically in the Big Book. (My life depends upon it). The A.A. fellowship is large enough that I can always find someone in A.A. who can assist me, who had the same problem that I had, and they can share with me how they got to the other side of the problem -- through A.A.'s way.

I would be concerned that by going to another fellowship, other than A.A., that their solution may cause me a problem with my A.A. solution. Their application of the 12 Steps, as they understand them, may be directly opposite to what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous instructs me to do. (Example: to be a victim rather than to take responsibility and to discover my part in a situation, or to see what I could have done differently).

While it may not be appropriate to discuss my "other problems" in A.A. meetings... that doesn't prevent me from discussing the problem with my sponsor, and asking his direction and guidance, and it doesn't prevent me from discussing the problem with another A.A. member individually. If my sponsor did not have experience with the problem that I have, I'm sure he would know someone in A.A.'s fellowship who successfully solved the same problem using A.A.'s solution to solve the problem that I would need to solve.

I have heard people say "A.A.'s method is too shallow to solve all my problems."

Those people are often the same people who think that A.A.'s "solution" is about just going to AA meetings and hanging out with the AA Fellowship.

While meetings and the fellowship are important elements in recovery... they are not "the solution" and they are not "the recovery program of A.A."

Most often, I have heard the "AA is too shallow" from people who have never completely read the Big Book and have never completed the 12 Steps using the directions in the Big Book, nor, have they for any length of time "Practiced" the principles of the 12 Steps in their life or even attempted to apply them to their other problems.

The solution is the 12 Steps. The Recovery Program of A.A. is the application of the 12 Steps as described in the Big Book.

The AA meetings and the fellowship is to remind us of two things:

1. What the problem is (Powerless). and, 2. What the solution is (the 12 Steps).

Without the meetings and the fellowship, I'll begin to think that the problem is anything other than Powerless. And, I'll forget what the solution is... the 12 Steps... and come up with all sorts of solutions of my own. In A.A., we call that "stinking thinking" and as alcoholics, we cannot afford the luxury of "stinking thinking" because stinking thinking produces "stinking results."

As an alcoholic, it's vital that I find a way to be happy.... and sober, or I will drink again!!!! That's the purpose of the 12 Steps.

If you've been in or around A.A. for a while, and you are not happy, or if your results "stink".... YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!!!!

Remember, Principles work the same all the time, for anyone, at any time... regardless if it was 100 years ago, today, or 100 years into the future.

Principles always produce the same results.... IF they are applied the same way. That's what it means, when, at the end of some A.A. meetings, they say "It works if you work it." If you work the principles they will produce the same results for you... that they produced for me and countless thousands of others...... "A happy, useful, peaceful, contented, satisfying, purposeful, and successful life... without alcohol"!

6. What does it mean to apply the 12 Steps in all our affairs?

It means to "apply the 12 Steps in all areas of my life."

Emotional ambitions = my sense of emotional well-being.

Social ambitions = community, world and personal relationships.

Material ambitions - " Pocketbook " = health, finances, material possessions, employment, job, business.

Spiritual ambitions = my understanding, relationship and conscious contact with my Higher Power.

Dallas B.

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Where are the 12 Steps Located in the Big Book?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:34 am

Where are the 12 Steps Located in the Big Book?

The info for Steps 1 & 2, is... from the front cover up to page 57.
Page 58 to 103, are the instructions for Step 3 through 12.

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How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:43 am

How long did it take Bill W. to take the 12 Steps?

In reading Bill's Story, Chapter 1, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill describes each of the actions that he took to have a spiritual awakening that removed his compulsion and obsession to drink -- and brought about a profound change in him, that allowed him to live the rest of his life sober -- and never to drink again.

The actions that he took became the basis for our 12 Steps, that were later written down and published in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, providing the instructions so that we could also take the same Steps that Bill took -- and, we could recover also.

In reading Bill's Story -- can you determine how long it took Bill to take the actions, that became our 12 Steps?

How long did it take him?

Through reading his story -- "Bill's Story" Chapter 1, in the Big Book, especially around pages 13-15, the un-numbered actions that he describes that he took, can easily be identified and numbered, using the 12 Steps that he later wrote down, as to "what they were doing" to recover, and suggested for our own "program of recovery". (Including a written inventory or "list" that Ebby helped him make, as he referred to it then).

Dallas B.

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what is the right time to complete the Steps?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:54 am

what is the best/right time frame for an alcoholic today to complete the 12 steps. When I say complete, I mean go through and do them with a sponsor, for the first time?

For me, from reading our history, and the Big Book, and listening to some of the real old talks... I'm convinced that there is only two requirements to the answer to that question.

1. Has the fog lifted? According to many of the Pioneer stories in the First Edition of the Big Book (two of which are still in the 4th Edition), and Dr. Bob's Nightmare, along with AA Comes of Age, Dr. Bob & the Good Old-Timers, and Pass it on... The early 1935 & on many of the "new prospects" were hospitalized to detox, and when they were physically sober they were talked to and asked a question like we have on page 58, Big Book:

2. "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to
go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take
certain steps."

Do you want what we have?

What is it that we have? We have a program of recovery that will bring about a spiritual awakening... that will remove the obsession and insanity to drink.

For myself, I thought of it in terms like "If I was bleeding to death... how soon would I want to get sown up?" And, "If I was drowning... how long would I want to wait... to have me pulled out of the water?"

I also believe there was a primary purpose (reason) that was part of the formulated 12 Steps that required rapid action... and that was the pain.

Pain is a great motivator to action. Lessen the pain, and less reasons for the actions.

Dr. Jung and William James (Varieties of Religious Experiences... the book that Bill had Ebby bring to the hospital) referred to "conversion experiences"... (similar to what Carl Jung was trying to produce with Roland Hazard... the man that carried the message to Ebby) when they referred to "religious experiences." Those normally, according to James, were very rapid, and required a spirit of broken-ness and pain.


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How long should I wait to take the 12 Steps?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 8:57 am

How long should I wait to take the 12 Steps?

One of the common questions that I often get asked by newcomers is "How long should I wait to take the 12 Steps?" My reply is usually something like, "If you were bleeding to death, and you knew you were going to die from it ... how long would you want to wait to get to the hospital?"

I've discovered that many newcomer's are much like I was when I first came to AA. I didn't understand how serious, tragic and deadly the disease of alcoholism is. As I see it now, it's like a lethal snake bite... if I've been bitten... I want to get treated for it as fast as I can... rather than run the risk of dying from the poisonous bite.

Sometimes, I've heard some deadly ideas shared in an AA meeting. When I was very new in AA, I remember someone, who was apparently an old-timer, sharing "Well, I suggest you take one step a year, and in 12 years, you've taken them all!" I've even heard Sponsor's suggest to people they were sponsoring that "they were not ready to take the 12 Steps"!

I'm sure glad that I had an AA Sponsor who knew enough about alcoholism and AA, to steer me in a different direction! I would have been drunk and dead had I waited long to take the 12 Steps!!!

There are some very strong warnings in the Big Book, and in the book 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, that suggest that if we delay taking the Steps, we will end up drinking again, and for us to drink is to die.

The best AA answer I've found to the question of "How long should I wait to take the 12 Steps?" are the answers that I've found in the Big Book. AA books such as, Dr. Bob & the Good Old-timers, and AA Comes of Age, are also very informative.

When I read the personal story in back of Big Book, (3rd Edition) titled: "He sold himself short", it appears that Dr. Bob's practice was to take the newcomer through the Steps in one afternoon.

I realize that I can't shove sobriety down an alcoholics throat and rush them through recovery. Many are like I was, they will insist on their drinking rights until they have reached a hopeless condition of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization and wait until all of the good things in life are gone, before becoming willing to listen to the AA message. And, as sad as it is, some will never hear it.

When I first took the 12 Steps, my life was so full of pain, and I knew that it was certain that I would drink again, that I wanted to take the 12 Steps just to stay alive!!!

After I took the 12 Steps, myself and my life changed in such a radical way for the better, that I couldn't figure out why I had waited so long to take the 12 Steps!!!

Thanks for letting me share!!!


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What does the Step 3 Decision mean?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:02 am

What does the Step 3 Decision mean?

Step 3, is about making a decision to make a change!

Step 3: We made a decision to change.

Our book indicates that “We thought well before making this decisionâ€

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What does Powerless over alcohol mean?

Postby Dallas » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:15 am

What does Powerless over alcohol mean?

Step 1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

For me, what it means that -- I am powerless, on my own, to stay sober (I need help) -- that I cannot manage to stay sober on my own! (I need continued help!) -- to manage to STAY sober!

When I was new in A.A., I thought that "Powerless over alcohol" meant that I was only powerless while drinking. That’s only part of the deal. I learned that for me, powerless over alcohol means that I am powerless over alcohol when sober!!!

If I were only powerless over alcohol while drinking... the solution to my problem would be simple. Just quit drinking. I wouldn’t need A.A., the 12 Steps, meetings, God, or a Sponsor! However, my real problem is alcohol-ism.

I am powerless over the next drink while I am sober, which means that I will ALWAYS have the next drink if my alcohol-ism is not being treated.

The mental obsession, the physical craving, or the emotional compulsion, will draw me to the next drink just like the hidden energy in a magnet will attract iron to it.

Restless, irritable and discontented without a drink is only part of my problem. There have been many times that my life got so good and I felt so good that I went out to celebrate… just a tiny little bit. :lol:

On my own... I am doomed to drink again. But, "with AA’s help" I don't have to take the first drink.

Through AA’s 12 Steps, my obsession to drink has been removed. The physical craving will not come back unless I take the first drink. And, the emotional compulsion to drink was removed through the 12 Steps. And, I was able to make a conscious contact with a Power Greater Than Myself.... that could restore me to sanity, and provide the power that I need to take the actions that will lead me away from the next drink. That’s great! I must be recovered, right? Wrong! That’s what the alcoholic part of my brain would like me to believe. Recovered only means that I am sober today.

When I take Step 1, I am making a full unreserved surrender... It means "I'm licked". I lost the game. Now, I better find a new one. My old tools, methods, plans and techniques to try and control my drinking didn’t work. My old design for living didn't work. There were times that I could get sober… once, I stayed sober about six months, on my own! But I couldn’t stay sober. Sooner or later, against all my better judgment and experiences… I would pick up a drink again. And, even though it has now been more than 22 years without a drink for me… I will drink again… if I stop doing what I’m doing that keeps me from picking up the next drink.

This is why the First Step is the most important step. I will not be willing to take the other eleven Steps with the "vigorous action" that they require, nor will I be willing to surrender to a Higher Power.... if I'm not doomed…. While sober! :roll:

First, I took Step 1 -- and now, I take Step 1 -- Daily.

That’s why I go to A.A. meetings. In the A.A. meetings I remember what my problem is… alcoholism, and what the solutions is: AA’s 12 Steps. The meetings do not keep me sober. The meetings remind me of what my problem is and what the solution to my problem is. It’s the DAILY practicing and living the 12 Steps, and maintaining and improving on my conscious contact with a Power Greater than myself that keep me sober.

If I stop going to AA meetings, my head will forget what my problem is and it will forget what the solution is. On my own… I’ll come up will all kinds of problems other than alcoholism, and solutions other than Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 Steps, and a Power Greater than myself. And, that’s very dangerous for an alcoholic of my type.

It would also be extremely dangerous for me to believe that I could substitute the Internet cyber-meetings for the real live A.A. meetings. There is no substitute.

Now, sober... I have everything that I was looking for in the bottle... peace, joy, contentment, serenity, confidence, happiness, comfort, a new attitude, a new outlook on life, a design for living that really works, and I do not have to fear....... as long as I keep doing what I’m doing!

Thanks for letting me share… And, Keep Coming Back!


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Postby DiggerinVA » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:00 pm

Dallas those are wonderful words.
thank You for sharing them with us.


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Postby ccs » Sat Jul 11, 2009 1:51 am


and THANK YOU for Helping me Today :wink:

LUV YA D :wink:

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Postby Jools » Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:48 am

Dallas, thanx so much for all of this, I'll be printing this out when I get home.

Love to ya,

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