A Brief History of the 12-Step Process of Recovery

Doing the 12-steps is not a dance, although some may think of it as such. It is part of a journey some decide to take in recovery. In early recovery, it may not be well known how the 12-steps came to be what they are. When they understand the origin, it helps them understand how they can help reach personal rehab goals.

How They Started

The 12 steps started as principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a self-help group founded in Ohio. The steps were developed by two people with alcoholism in the mid-1930s. Bill Wilson was one of the men and he identified three sources of inspiration:

  • An evangelical movement that advocated selflessness and honesty, to make amends for harm done to others
  • A medical professional embraced the idea of alcoholism as a disease with severe ramifications for some people who struggled
  • The spirituality of addiction as evidenced by some sources he researched from which he developed his philosophy of surrendering to a higher power

Some of the principles they developed that they believed to help support sobriety include self-awareness, making amends with others, working with others who have alcoholism, seeking spiritual strength from God, and admitting powerlessness over alcohol (the first principle). These principles evolved into the 12 steps as they are known today.

Continuing Evolution

The 12 steps were further developed into a book, that would become known as the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, published in 1939. The 12 steps were outlined in Chapter 5. The concepts were debated and some terms were changed around the spirituality piece to encourage people of all faiths and traditions, including agnostics, to participate and gain the rewards of doing the program. People with addiction who want help often turn to programs like AA and offshoots of it, NA, and Al-Anon for family members. When it is time to make lasting changes in life, it is a good place to go for support, camaraderie, and a sense that things are changing and evolving but recovery is still better than the alternative. There is a lot of hope for people with addiction who walk through the doors of AA to seek support. They often find friendships, sponsors, and more as they grow in their recovery and healing journey.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. We offer nature as a sanctuary away from everything to help in recovery. We also help you navigate the 12 steps as you begin to process your experience with addiction and look to recover. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.