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12 Step Support

What are the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The Following is a definition of A.A. appearing in the Fellowship’s basic literature and cited frequently at meetings of A.A. groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

Source: Copyright © by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.

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Choosing a Sponsor

A sponsor is an AA or NA member who acts as your guide, confidant, and support person. A sponsor is a person you can ask for direction, or call when you are having a rough day. Choose a sponsor carefully. Hopefully, the recommendations that follow will make finding a sponsor a bit easier. Remember! These are guidelines, not rules.

Your sponsor should be someone who possesses personal attributes you admire – a role model of sorts. Your sponsor should also have at least two years of sobriety and be the same gender as you so that you feel free to discuss any areas of your life.

Trust is a huge issue with newcomers and is am important aspect of experiencing personal growth in recovery. Familial history may have made us cautious, while guilt and shame make us hesitant to open up to others. When you are trying to pick out a sponsor at a meeting, listen carefully and observe behaviour. Here are some tell-tale signs:

  • Gossips – if a potential sponsor puts people down behind their backs, chances are they will do the same to you
  • Experts – if a potential sponsor constantly quotes from the Big Book, 12X12, or the NA Basic Text chapter and verse they are trying to impress you with what they know
  • Collectors – if a potential sponsor has a large number of sponsees, they might be more interested in creating a following than helping people. Collectors may be too busy to have time for you.


In your first year of sobriety, you will need more time and attention. To find the right sponsor here are some questions to ask a candidate:

  1. How do you incorporate the 12 Steps into your life?
  2. Who is your sponsor (if they do not have a sponsor ask why)?
  3. How many people have you sponsored?
  4. How many sponsees do you have right now?
  5. Have you completed the 12 Steps with a sponsor?


You can find a sponsor that matches your particular situation or interests. For example, if your family is important to you, try to find a sponsor who is in a long-term, healthy relationship with a partner or speaks glowingly of his children. If you are focusing on building a career, ask those who are successful in their chosen fields.  If you are a multiple relapser, you may want to find someone who has shared your experience or, if not, has lived by a certain set of principles that you think will work for your situation as well.

Avoid committing to the first available sponsor. Choose carefully. Finding a temporary sponsor is a good option so ask around. This is a good way to avoid procrastination and will also give you support and time to select the right sponsor.

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Bridging the Gap from Treatment

Bridging the Gap is a temporary contact program designed to assist the newcomer to a Twelve Steps group (AA, NA, CA, etc.) who may sometimes struggle to make the transition from a treatment facility to AA on his own.

Often people are introduced to Twelve Step groups when they are in a Treatment Facility or hospital, but when they return to their own community, it can be very difficult for them to reach out to Alcoholics Anonymous for help. The purpose of “Bridging the Gap” is to supply the newcomer with a temporary contact when they get home from the facility until they become comfortable attending meetings on their own.

How does it work? Before the person leaves the facility, they contact the appropriate “Bridging the Gap” committee, who locates a temporary contact in the home community.  This temporary contact gets in touch with the person leaving treatment, and sets up a time and a place to meet upon returning home. The temporary contact can then take the newcomer to a few meetings and introduce them to different Twelve Step groups with the desire to, hopefully, find a meeting that is a good fit and has the potential of becoming his/her home group. The temporary contact can also answer any questions that the newcomer might have about AA; and can shed some light on things like the importance of home groups, sponsors, going to meetings, etc.

Be sure to contact your local AA or NA area office to see if they have a Bridging the Gap program. Please refer to the Meeting Directory print out for phone numbers.

Source: Alberta AA (Area 78)

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Finding a Twelve Step Group in Your Community

Local community groups that can help you find Twelve Step groups such as AA, NA, or CA in your community include:

  • Treatment center alumni groups or members. If you have recently completed treatment, ask the treatment center for the name of a program alumnus in your home community
  • Clergy. Many meetings are held in parishioner halls.
  • Provincial/state services in your community such as drug and alcohol services, social services, and law enforcement


Don’t be afraid to ask alumnus to accompany you to your first meeting.

If you have recently completed residential or outpatient treatment, meetings are a wonderful place to apply what you learned in treatment.

If you live in a remote community you can e-mail your local chapter. has a section called Meetings that provides AA, NA and Al-Anon contact information for your home community.

Source: Sunshine Coast Health Center wishes to thank Bob Taylor of Mission, BC, for contributing this article.

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Research on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Are 12-step programs helpful? Who benefits from 12-step programs, and what 12-step behaviors predict improvement?  Are all 12-step meetings alike and how, if at all, are differences between 12-step meetings explained?  What is spirituality as it is practiced in 12-step programs, and is spirituality important for recovery from addiction?  CASAA investigators have a 10-year history of studying 12-step processes and outcomes. 

Three excellent summaries of the scientific literature on 12-step programs are:

  • Emrick, C. D., Tonigan, J. S., Montgomery, H. A., & Little, L. (1993).  Alcoholics Anonymous: What is currently known?  In B. S. McCrady & W. R. Miller (Eds.) Research on Alcoholics Anonymous: Opportunities and alternatives. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers Center for Alcohol Studies.
  • Tonigan, J. S., Toscova, R., & Miller, W. R. (1996).  Meta analysis of the Alcoholics Anonymous Literature: Sample and study characteristics moderate findings, Journal of Studies on Alcohol. 57, 65-72.
  • Emrick CD, Tonigan, J S.  (2004). Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups. In M Galanter & HD Kleber (eds): American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment.


Other research on 12-step programs include:

Spirituality, Religious Problem-Solving, and Sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous (2000) focuses on the problem-solving or coping aspect of religiousness as well as spiritual support, spiritual openness, and religious faith practice as the key predictors of long-term sobriety in AA. Purpose in life and AA involvement were also included as important indicators for sustained abstinence from drinking. Results confirmed AA involvement to be the single most, important predictor of abstinence and sobriety in AA. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, Volume 18, Issue 2.

Source: Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA).



General Reading on the Twelve Steps

The 7 Points of Alcoholics Anonymous (1994) is a summation of the author’s knowledge on the practice and fundamentals of 12 Step recovery. Richmond Walker.

Sobriety Without End (1997) was written over a period of ten years, during which time the author devoted all of his time among members of Alcoholic Anonymous. The theme of the volume is to bring into focus and express in common, clear language and phrases the “spiritual thread of Alcoholics Anonymous. John Doe.

Alcoholic Thinking: Language, Culture, and Beliefs in Alcoholics Anonymous (1998) is based on 13 years of experience as a practicing alcoholic, his training in anthropology, and observations from over 600 AA meetings. Demonstrates that an individual does not have to be a practicing alcoholic to think like one. Danny M. Wilcox.

Alcoholics Anonymous (2002) AA Services

The History of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Real “Power” Behind Alcoholics Anonymous by AA expert, Dick B.

As Bill Sees It: The A. A. Way of Life …Selected Writings of the AA.’s Co-Founder (1967) Alcoholics Anonymous World Service

Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow: 12 Simple Principles (2005)
Karen Casey

Getting Up, Getting Over, Getting On: A Twelve Step Guide to Divorce Recovery (2002) Micki McWade

How to Stop Screwing Up: 12 Steps to Real Life and a Pretty Good Time (2007) Martha Woodroof
Promises in a New Life (1999) Linda Macuga

The Real 13th Step : Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs (2001) Tina B. Tessina

Sobriety and Beyond (1997) Father Ralph Pfau
Staying Sober in Mexico City (2002) researches Alcoholics Anonymous and its huge following in Mexico. Analyzes how recovering men in Mexico redefine gender roles to preserve masculine identity and explains how an evangelical Protestant-based movement flourished in the largely Roman Catholic population in Latin America. Stanley H. Brandes.

Stepping Stones to Recovery (1994) is a collection of ideas, principles, and teachings derived from the membership of AA over five decades. Bill Pittman.

Stepping Stones to Recovery for Men: Experience the Miracle of 12 Step Recovery (1994) Stephen Beal

The Steps We Took (1990) Joe McQ

Twelve-Step Guide to Using The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book: Personal Transformation: The Promise of the Twelve-Step Process (2004) Herb K.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (2002) Alcoholics Anonymous

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: Interpreted by Hazelden: (1996) brings together a series of short discussions that interpret each of the Twelve Steps – from the admission of individual powerlessness over alcohol to the moral inventory and the spiritual awakening. Anonymous

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Printed Resources – Anxiety and the Twelve Steps

The Worry Workbook: Twelve Steps to Anxiety-Free Living (2001) Les Carter and Frank Minirth

Printed Resources – Beginner Information on the Twelve Steps

AA to Z: Addictionary to the 12-Step Culture (1998) Christopher Cavanaugh

Back to Basics (1998)Wally P.

Father Fred and the Twelve Steps: A Primer for Recovery (1995) Anonymous

Getting Started in AA (1995) gives newcomers a foundation for program principles, expands the knowledge of those who have been in the program for several years, and offers AA veterans interesting historical references. Hamilton B.

Staying Sober: Tips for Working a Twelve Step Program of Recovery (1999) Meredith Gould

Understanding the Twelve Steps: An Interpretation and Guide for Recovering People (1991) Terence T. Gorski

Printed Resources – Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

12 Steps on Buddha’s Path: Bill, Buddha, and We (2006) Laura S.

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Printed Resources – Christianity and the Twelve Steps

By the Power of God: A Guide To Early A.A. Groups and Forming Similar Groups Today (Why It Worked; A.A. History) (2000) Dick B.
The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A. (2006) Dick B.
Dr. Bob and His Library: A Major AA Spiritual Source (1999) Dick B.

The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd Ed. (2010) Dick B., Ken B.

Eternal Sobriety (2004) shows the parallelism between AA and God’s Word. P Neal.

God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Opportunity in the 21st Century (2002) Dick B.

The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible (Bridge Builders Edition) (1997) Dick B.

The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-Believers (Hindsfoot Foundation Series on Spirituality and Theology) (2001) Glenn Chesnut
A Hunger for Healing: The Twelve Steps as a Classic Model for Christian Spiritual Growth (1992) J. Keith Miller

The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials (2005) Dick B.

Letting God – Revised edition: Christian Meditations for Recovery (1987) A. Philip Parham

The Life Recovery Workbook: A Biblical Guide Through the 12 Steps (2007) Stephen Arterburn, Deavid Stoop, Larry Werbil, Janelle Puff

Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous: A Fifteen Year Research Project, Collection, and Bibliography, Second Edition (2005) Dick B.

Meditations for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey (1993) Friends in Recovery

New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. (2d ed.) (1998) Dick B.

Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey (1993) Friends in Recovery

Seeds of Grace: A Nun’s Reflections on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous (2001) Molly Monahan
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery (1990) Thomas Nelson

The Tree of Renewed Life: Spiritual Renewal of the Church Through the Twelve-Step Program (1992) Terry Webb

Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes (1997) Dick B.

The Twelve Step Approach to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (2001) Jim Harbaugh

Twelve Step Christianity: The Christian Roots & Applications of the Twelve Steps (2000) Saul Selby

The Twelve Steps for Adult Children (1996) Friends in Recovery

The Twelve Steps for Christians: Based on Biblical Teachings (1994) Friends in Recovery

The Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey – A Working Guide for Healing Damaged Emotions (1994) Friends in Recovery

The Twelve Step Life Recovery Devotional (1991) David A. Stoop, Stephen Arterburn

Twelve Steps with Jesus (2004) Don Williams

Utilizing Early AA’s Spiritual Roots for Recovery Today (Why It Worked: AA History, Vol. 1) (1999) Dick B.

Victims and Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery (1996) Linda A. Mercadante

Printed Resources – Codependency and the Twelve Steps

Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps (1992) Melody Beattie

For more information on codependency see the Help for Families and Partners section.

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Printed Resources – History of the Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous all began when two alcoholics named Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith met in Akron, Ohio back in May, 1935. A good way to enlighten your understanding of addiction (or that of a family member’s) is to read up on the early years of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous (1997) Dick B.

Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of AA (1957) Alcoholics Anonymous World Service

That Amazing Grace: The Role of Clarence and Grace S. in Alcoholics Anonymous (1996) Dick B.

Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939 (1999) Dick B.

Bill W.: The absorbing and deeply moving life story of Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (1999) Robert Thomsen

Bill W.: A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson (2001) the former secretary and confidant to Lois Wilson explores Bill Wilson’s organizational genius, his devotion to the cause, and his personal struggles.
Francis Hartigan

Bill W.: My First 40 Years – An Autobiography(2000)Bill Wilson

A Biography of Mrs. Marty Mann : The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous(2005) David Brown

Children of the Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob’s Kids (1994) Bob Smith

Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (1980) Alcoholics Anonymous World Service

Ebby: The Man Who Sponsored Bill W.  (1997) Mel B.

Getting Better: Inside Alcoholics Anonymous (2000) Nan Robertson

Grateful To Have Been There: My 42 Years With Bill And Lois, And The Evolution Of Alcoholics Anonymous/Second Edition-Expanded and Revised (1994) Nell Wing

Introduction to the Sources and Founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (2007) Dick B.

Language of the Heart: Bill W’s Grapevine Writings (1988) AA Grapevine

My Name is Bill: Bill Wilson – His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous (2005) is a comprehensive biography based on personal letters, diairies, hundreds of interviews and other archives. Susan Cheever

Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous (1979) is considered one of the top historical reviews of the AA movement ever written. Ernest Kurtz

Pass it On: The Story of Bill Wilson and How the AA Message Reached the World (1984) Alcoholics Anonymous World Service
Practice These Principles And What Is The Oxford Group? (1996) Bill Pittman 

Primer on Alcoholism: How People Drink, How to Recognize Alcoholics, and What to Do About Them (1950) is written by the “First Lady of AA.” Mann’s public admission of her own alcoholism, her successful experience with AA, and her encouragement of others — especially women — to get help contributed substantially to AA’s growth. Marty Mann.

Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks the Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (2002) Dale Mitchel

Sister Ignatia – Second Edition: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous (2001) Mary Darrah

Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (1998) William L. White

Women Pioneers in 12 Step Recovery (1999) Charlotte Hunter, Billye Jones, Joan Zieger

Printed Resources – Judaism and the Twelve Steps

100 Blessings Every Day: Daily Twelve Step Recovery Affirmation, Exercises for Personal Growth & Renewal Reflecting Seasons of the Jewish Year (Twelve Step Recovery Series) (1993) Kerry M. Olitzky

Starting over: Using Torah and the Twelve Steps of Recovery to Find Happiness (1998) Sima Devorah Schloss

Twelve Jewish Steps to Recovery: A Personal Guide to Turning from Alcoholism and Other Addictions (1991) by Kerry M. Olitzky and Stuart A. Copans

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Printed Resources – Meditation Books and the Twelve Steps

Keep it Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal(1996) focus on the Twelve Steps, stressing the importance of putting into practice new beliefs, slogans, and fellowship. James Jennings.

Printed Resources – Opponents and Alternatives to the Twelve Steps

Several alternatives to the Twelve Steps have been created over the past 25 years in opposition to several core beliefs of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous such as:

  1. addiction is a disease
  2. there is no cure for addiction
  3. spirituality is fundamental to recovery from drug and alcohol addiction (a higher power)
  4. the powerlessness of addicts and alcoholics over drugs and alcohol (abstinence)


Some look at the origins of the Twelve Step movement and view it as a Christian movement while others see the dominance of Twelve Step support groups as “cultish.” Some clinicians and academics oppose the “disease-model” and instead consider the origins of addiction as a learned behavior or maladaptive coping skill. Whatever your opinion, these books illustrate that the debate on the origins and treatment of alcohol and drug addiction is far from settled.

AA: Not the Only Way – Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives (2005) Melanie Solomon

Addiction is a Choice (1999) Jeffrey A. Schaler

Alcohol: How to Give It Up and Be Glad You Did (1996) Philip Tate

Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? (1998) examines the recovery program and discusses its philosophy and redesigns the twelve step program from a secular approach. Charles Bufe, Albert Ellis.  

Alcoholics Anonymous Unmasked: Deception and Deliverance(1991) Cathy Burns 

Alternatives to Abstinence: A New Look at Alcoholism and the Choices in Treatment (2002) Heather Ogilvie, A. Thomas Horvath, and Frederick Rotgers

Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You (2004) William R. Miller and Ricardo F. Munoz

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Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts (2003) Dick B.

Diseasing of America: How We Allowed Recovery Zealots and the Treatment Industry to Convince Us We Are Out of Control (1999) Stanton Peele

The Easy Way to Stop Drinking (2005) Allen Carr

Fighting Firewater Fictions: Moving Beyond the Disease Model of Alcoholism in First Nations (2004) Richard W. Thatcher
 Harm Reduction: Pragmatic Strategies for Managing High-Risk Behaviors (2002) G. Alan Marlatt

Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: A New Treatment for Drug and Alcohol Problems (2007) Andrew Tatarsky

Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (1989) Herbert Fingarette

A History of Addiction & Recovery in the United States: Traditional Treatments and Effective Alternatives (2001) Michael Lemanski
How to Quit Drinking Without AA: A Complete Self-Help Guide (2nd Ed.)(1997) offers an alternative to AA with a system based on individual responsibility and backed up with concrete plans and helpful exercises. Included are relaxation and stress-management techniques and methods to avoid common pitfalls. Jerry Dorsman

How to Quit Drugs for Good: A Complete Self-Help Guide (1998) Jerry Dorsman

Many Roads One Journey: Moving Beyond the Twelve Steps (1992) Charlotte S. Kasl

The Meaning of Addiction: An Unconventional View (1998) Stanton Peele

Moderate Drinking – Naturally! Herbs and Vitamins to Control Your Drinking (2006) Donna J. Cornett

Over the Influence: The Harm Reduction Guide for Managing Drugs and Alcohol  (2003) Patt Denning, Jeannie Little, and Adina Glickman

Overcoming Your Alcohol, Drug & Recovery Habits (2003) James DeSena

Powerfully Recovered! A Confirmed 12 Stepper Challenges the Movement (2001) Anne Wayman

Practicing Harm Reduction Psychotherapy: An Alternative Approach to Addictions (2004) Patt Denning
Rational Recovery: The New Cure for Substance Addiction (1996) Jack Trimpey

The Real AA: Behind the Myth of 12-Step Recovery (1997) Ken Ragge

Resisting 12-Step Coercion: How to Fight Forced Participation in AA, NA, or 12-Step Treatment (2000) Stanton Peele, Charles Bufe, Archie Brodsky.

Responsible Drinking: A Moderation Management Approach for Problem Drinkers (2002) Frederick Rotgers

Seven Tools to Beat Addiction (2004) Stanton Peele

Seven Weeks to Safe Social Drinking: How to Effectively Moderate Your Alcohol Intake (2005) Donna J. Cornett

The Small Book (Rational Recovery Systems) (1995) Jack Trimpey

Sober for Good: New Solutions for Drinking Problems — Advice from Those Who Have Succeeded (2002) are personal testimonials of hundreds of men and women who have resolved a drinking problem. Argues that many alleged AA concepts are myths and that there are multiple paths to sobriety. Anne M. Fletcher

SOS Sobriety: The Proven Alternative to 12-Step Programs (1992)
James Christopher

Take Control of Your Drinking…And You May Not Need to Quit (2007) Michael S. Levy
Taming the Beast: An Alternative Twelve-Step Process of Regeneration from Addictions (1995) Henry Herlong

The Truth About Addiction and Recovery (1992) Stanton Peele

12-Step Horror Stories: True Tales of Misery, Betrayal, and Abuse in AA, NA, and 12-Step Treatment (2000) Rebecca Fransway

The Universal 12-Step Program: How to Overcome Any Addiction and Win(1999) Kenneth Peiser (Author), Martin Sandry Ph.D.

When AA Doesn’t Work for You: Rational Steps to Quitting Alcohol (1992) Albert Ellis

When Early AAs Were Cured and Why, Third Edition (2006) Dick B.

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Printed Resources – Special Populations and the Twelve Steps of  AA

Special Populations in Alcoholics Anonymous (1998) shows that while Hispanic clients attended AA less frequently than white clients, their involvement with and commitment to AA was higher than among white clients. For both Hispanics and whites, AA involvement predicted increased abstinence. J. Scott Tonigan, Gerard J. Connors, William R. Miller. Alcohol Health & Research World. Volume 22, No. 4.

For more information on special populations see the Special Populations section.

Printed Resources – Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

Came to Believe (2002) AA Services

The Glumlot Letters (2003) Stanley M.

New Wine: The Spiritual Roots of the Twelve Step Miracle(1991) is a retrospective brings together the cultural currents of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, showing the influences of Carl Jung, the Oxford Group, Emmet Fox, old-time and modern religion, and more. Mel B.

Seeds of Grace: Reflections on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous (2002) Molly Monahan

A Skeptic’s Guide to the 12 Steps (1990) Phillip Z.

Spiritual Recovery: A Twelve Step Guide (1998) Grant R. Schnarr

Twelve Step Programs: A Contemporary American Quest for Meaning and Spiritual Renewal (1997) Ann Marie Minnick

Using the Twelve Steps to Grow Spiritually: A Guide for Women (2000) Patricia F. Wallace and Mary Winifred

The Wide Open Door: The Twelve Steps, Spiritual Tradition, and the New Psychology (1993) Tav Sparks

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Printed Resources – Sponsorship and the Twelve Steps

A Sponsorship Guide for 12-Step Programs (1998) M.T.

A Sponsorship Guide for All Twelve-Step Programs: Advice for Recovery-Related Problems (1995) M. T.

Carry This Message: A Guide for Big Book Sponsorship (2002) addresses the concern of many in the AA community that sponsors have lost some skills in working with alcoholics. The author has created a guide for sponsors to use in working with others and appeals for a return to the roots and essence of the AA program. Joe McQ.
If You Want What We Have: Sponsorship Meditations (1998) is written as conversations between sponsor and sponsee. These daily meditations explore the concerns, dilemmas, and struggles involved every day in recovery. Provides insights for sponsors on mutual trust, compassion, and what is important in recovery. Joan Larkin 

The Miracle of Sponsorship: Recovery Stories of Hope and Renewal (2000) is a personal testimonial of how sponsorship saved a life. It is a collection of inspiring stories that share one message: No problem has to be shouldered alone. Karen Casey

 The Soul of Sponsorship: The Friendship of Fr. Ed Dowling, S.J. and Bill Wilson in Letters(1995) S.J., Robert Fitzgerald

Twelve Step Sponsorship: How It Works (1996) is a manual that guides sponsors through their role in reaching out and helping new program participants. Includes finding a sponsor, being a sponsor, and guiding the sponsee through each of the Twelve Steps. Hamilton B

Printed Resources – Step Study Guides for the Twelve Steps

The Annotated AA Handbook: A Companion to the Big Book (Revised) (2000) Frank Dwyer

The Big Book Unplugged: A Young Person’s Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous by Anonymous (2003) Anonymous

The Little Red Book (1996) Anonymous

Pocket Guide to the Twelve Steps (Crossing Press Pocket) (1997)
Kathleen S.

The Primary Purpose Group Big Book Study Guide by Dallas Primary Purpose Group

A Program for You: A Guide to the Big Book Design for Living (1991) interprets the original A.A. program as described in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” and serves as the basis for studying the “Big Book,” This guide provides us with a thorough understanding of Twelve Step principles and includes exercises on how we can apply them to our lives. Anonymous

A Reference Guide to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (1987) C. Stewart

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Printed Resources – Step Work and the Twelve Steps

Drop The Rock: Removing Character Defects, Steps Six and Seven, Second Edition (2005) Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S.

A Good First Step: A First Step Workbook for Twelve Step Programs (1994) Richard A. Hamel

A Guide to the Big Book’s Design for Living with Your Higher Power: A Workbook for Steps 1 – 3(1991) leads each of us – newcomer or old-timer – to a deeper understanding of recovery as a way of life. James Hubel.

A Guide to the Big Book’s Design for Living with Yourself: A Workbook for Steps 4-7 (1991) continues exploring the ideas for healthy living. The workbook’s exercises guide you to an understanding of yourself and the character defects that have caused chaos in your life and separated you from your Higher Power. James Hubel.

A Guide to the Big Book’s Design for Living with Others: A Workbook for Steps 8-12  (1991) is a workbook that covers Steps Eight through Twelve and is the third of three workbooks covering all Twelve Steps. Much of the text in these workbooks is adapted from the book A Program for You: A Guide to the Big Book’s Design for Living (see above). James Hubel.

Fourth Step Guide: Journey Into Growth (1994) Daryl Koslokie

How to Get Sober and Stay Sober: Steps 1 through 5 (2000) Anonymous 

Renewing Your Fourth Step: An Attitude Inventory (1998) Richard Hartnett 

Step Workbook for Adolescent Chemical Dependency Recovery: A Guide to the First Five Steps (1990) Steven L. Jaffe MD

Turning It Over: A Third Step Guide for Recovering People (1999) Homer P.

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Printed Resources – Teenagers and the Twelve Steps

Young Winners’ Way: A Twelve Step Guide for Teenagers(1983) is an interpretation of the Twelve Steps designed for adolescents. Mimi Noland, Dennis D. Nelson.

For more information on teens and addiction see the Help for Parents & Teens section.

Printed Resources – Treatment and the Twelve Steps

Clinician’s Guide to the 12 Step Principles (2001) Marvin D. Seppala

Integrating the 12 Steps Into Addiction Therapy: A Resource Collection and Guide for Promoting Recovery  (2004) James R. Finley

The Twelve-Step Facilitation Handbook: A Systematic Approach to Early Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction (1998) Joseph Nowinski and Stuart Baker

Printed Resources – Yoga and the Twelve Steps

Healing Addiction with Yoga (2003) Annalisa Cunningham

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Websites Specific to Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous
Online AA Recovery Resources
AA Grapevine
AA History and Trivia 2008

Websites Specific to Other 12 Step Support Groups

Cocaine Anonymous
Co-Dependents Anonymous
Crystal Meth Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous

Websites Specific to Alternative Self-Help Groups

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS)

Online Resources – General Information on the Twelve Steps

The AA Fact File is a 21-page document published by the AA General Services Office. Topics include: (1) What is AA?; (2) membership; (3) Structure of AA; (4) AA Traditions; (5) AA and Alcoholism; (6) Anonymity; (7) Public Relations;(8) The Recovery Program; (9) AA Meetings; (10) AA Literature; (11) Historical Data; and (12) AA Locations Outside USA and Canada.

The Big Book Web Site has an online version of the Big Book, Fourth Edition

Powerfully Recovered has some good advice for people who are going to meetings including sections on working the program, slogans explained (i.e. “Keep it Simple”), and good thinking.

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Online Resources – Assessment and the Twelve Steps

Several 12-Step specific assessment tools have been developed to better understand change processes in AA.

Psychometric Properties of the General Alcoholics Anonymous Tools of Recovery (GAATOR 2.1)(1993) evaluates the psychometric properties and stability of a measure intended to assess adoption of prescribed 12-step principles and practices, most notably as they related with spiritual development. Center for Alcoholism, Substance Abuse & Addictions (CASAA).

Online Resources – Beginner Resources for the Twelve Steps

Your First AA Meeting is an unofficial guide for the perplexed.

Online Resources – History of the Twelve Steps

How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio (1997) By Mitchell K.

Index of AA History Barefootsworld.

Mitchell K’s Alcoholics Anonymous History and Other AA Resources  AA Big Book Study Group Website

People in AA History is a list of people that shaped the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous. Comes complete with references.

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Online Resources – Relapse and the Twelve Steps

For more information on relapse visit the Relapse Prevention section of Relapse Prevention Facts section.

Online Resources – Research and the Twelve Steps

Substance Abuse Treatment Providers’ Referral to Self-Help: Review and Future Empirical Directions (2000) reviews clinicians’ attitudes toward self help and their role in referring clients to self help, and recommends research needed to elucidate the referral process from both clinicians’ and clients’ perspectives. Alexandre B. Laudet, International Journal of Self Help Care, 1(3): 213-225.

For more research resources see the Addiction Research section.

Online Resources – Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

Spirituality and AA Practices is a study that shows spirituality helps to explain drinking reductions among AA participants. J. Scott Tonigan. 

We Agnostics is Chapter 4 of Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition and deals with the distinction between spirituality and religion.

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Video Resources – Movies

Note: these movies are for entertainment purposes only.

16 Years of Alcohol (2003)
Starring: Kevin McKidd as Frankie, Laura Fraser as Helen, Susan Lynch as Mary
Director: Richard Jobson

20h17 rue Darling (2003)
Starring: Luc Picard as Gerard, Guylaine Tremblay as Angela, Diane Lavallee as Chantal.
Director: Bernard Emond

A.A. (2001)
Starring: Rick McCulley, David Levy, Charles Egerton
Director: James Riseden

Bounce (2000)
Starring: Ben Affleck as Buddy Amaral, Gwyneth Paltrow as Abby Janello, Natsha Henstridge as Mimi Prager.
Director: Don Roos

Changing Lanes (2002)   
Starring: Ben Affleck as Gavin Banek, Samuel L. Jackson as Doyle Gipson, Toni Collette as Michelle, Sydney Pollack as Stephen Delano.
Director: Roger Mitchell

Clean and Sober(1988)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Kathy Baker, Morgan Freeman
Director: Glenn Gordon Caron

Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)
Starring: Burt Lancaster as Doc Delaney, Shirley Booth as Lola Delaney, Terry Moore as Marie Buckholder.
Director: Daniel Mann

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Starring: Jack Lemmon as Joe Clay, Lee Remick as Kirsten Arnesen Clay, Charles Bickford as Ellis Arnesen, Jack Klugman as Jim Hungerford.
Director: Blake Edwards

Starring: Richard Lewis, Faye Dunaway, Spalding Gray, Amanda Plummer, Dianne West
Director: Peter Cohn

I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)
Starring: Susan Hayward as Lillian Roth, Richard Conte as Tony Bardeman, Eddie Albert as Burt McGuire.
Director: Daniel Mann

Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice (1982) (TV)
Starring: Carol Burnett as Beatrice O’Reilly, Lloyd Bridges as Johnny O’Reilly, Marian Mercer as Rita.
Director: Lamont Johnson

My Name is Bill W.(1989)
Starring: James Woods, Jobeth Williams, James Garner, Gary Sinise
Director: Daniel Petri

Never Among Friends (2002)
Starring: Pete Capella as Steve Wilson, Kevin Interdonato as Sean Ferrara, and Natalie Durante as Jane Rumsfield.
Director: Jason Allentoff

Rude Awakening (1998)
Starring: Sherilyn Fenn as Billie Frank, Lynn Redgrave as Trudy Frank, Mario Van Peebles as Marcus Adams.
Directors: Amanda Bearse and Robert Berlinger

Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic (1975) (TV)
Starring: Linda Blair as Sarah Travis, Larry Hagman as Jerry Travis, Michael Lerner as Dr. Marvin Kittredge
Director: Richard Donner

When a Man Loves a Woman (1994)
Starring: Andy Garcia as Michael Green, Meg Ryan as Alice Green, Ellen Burstyn as Emily, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gary.
Director: Luis Mandoki

You Kill Me (2007)
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Tea Leoni, Luke Wilson
Review: Frank (Ben Kingsley) is a hit man in Buffalo that gets sent to San Francisco to sober up where he gets a sponsor (Luke Wilson) and a girlfriend (Laurel, played by Tea Leoni) that he meets while working as a mortician at a funeral home. A black comedy with some endearing characters. Movie contains scenes of drinking and violence.

Online Videos

Christianity and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery is a 4-session class on DVD that not only summarizes Dick B.’s 39 published titles, many recorded seminars and audio talks, and hundreds of published articles, but also brings to light many newly-discovered facts about the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the miraculous cure of “medically-incurable” alcoholics claimed by early A.A.

Spirituality and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (August 2006) is a discussion on the spiritual aspects of alcoholism with “Roy.” 3D Dialogue, host Jesse Hirsch.

Jung, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Drug Seeking Behavior (April 2007) talks about Carl Jung and an addict’s quest for meaning; which Jung asserted was the key motivating factor for those seeking relief from addiction.

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History of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Meeting (2005) is Bill Wilson’s voice telling how he met Dr. Bob. Doug Davis

The following video footage is provided by billgwilson, a pseudonym for a YouTube subscriber. In this series, Bill Wilson recounts the beginnings of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics.

Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 1)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 2)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 3)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 4)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 5)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 6)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 7)
Bill Wilson’s Story (Part 8)

(1) Note: Part 8 Includes Lois Wilson briefly describes the start of Al-Anon

Opponents and Alternatives to the 12 Steps

The 12-Step Monopoly (2003) talks about why he opposes the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

James Joyce’s Drinking is where Stanton Peele argues that James Joyce wasn’t considered an alcoholic because he remained a prodigious writer.

Sponsorship and the 12 Steps

The Bad Sponsor (May 2007) is a comical look at a sponsee who won’t take advice. Pinkcloudtracy.

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Step Study and the 12 Steps

Step One

Father Martin – Step One (August 2007) Father Joe Martin

Step Two

Step Two of the 12 Steps
Source: Sobriety Televisions

Step Three

Third Step Prayer (May 2007) Pinkcloudtracy.

Father Martin

Steps Four and Five

Father Martin

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Testimonial and the 12 Steps

Stevie Ray Vaughan, legendary guitarist, speaks at an AA meeting:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Twelve Traditions

The following are presented in parts and is an informal Bill Wilson presentation filmed in 1969. Bill Wilson talks about how AA needed to come up with a set of principles in order to protect the integrity of Alcoholics Anonymous from internal and external self-interest.

Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 1)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 2)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 3)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 4)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 5)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 6)
Bill Wilson and the 12 Traditions (Part 7)

Narcotics Anonymous

The following is old footage of Jimmy Kinnon, founder of NA, recounting the story of the early days of Narcotics Anonymous in Los Angeles. Jamespatrickkinnon (YouTube).

History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 2
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 3
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 4
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 5
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 6
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 11
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 12
History of NA with Jimmy Kinnon – Part 13


Al-Anon Speaks for Itself – Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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Recent YouTube Videos


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- Jean-Paul

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