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The Broken Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) often boasts that it's Twelve-Step Program has a success rate of 80 to 90%, but many studies have shown that, at best, the success rate is roughly 5%. The goal of the Twelve-...

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) often boasts that it's Twelve-Step Program has a success rate of 80 to 90%, but many studies have shown that, at best, the success rate is roughly 5%. The goal of the Twelve-Step Program is a spiritual awakening although most people find it difficult to make this connection because they feel victimized by someone else's behavior. Ironically, nine out of the twelve steps promote the concepts of self-incrimination and powerlessness. (AA) claims these nine steps to be paradoxical. Concluding that you are powerless over addiction, but like magic, you some how become more powerful! For all intent and purposes, addiction is a self-esteem issue. So, why would you teach participants that they are powerless? And, moreover, how can you restore self-esteem if you adopt victimization? In my opinion, many of the twelve steps are unnecessary and even counterproductive to addiction recovery although three of the steps do have potential.

I have categorized the twelve steps in the following two groups:

1.Counterproductive In my opinion, the steps that fall into this category are not only ineffective, but they are also counterproductive and damaging to the recovery process. In essence, addiction is a self-esteem issue, so why would you teach someone self-incrimination, powerlessness, and victimization?

2.feasible I believe the steps in this category are feasible when it comes to addiction recovery. While I vehemently disagree with the context and direction of the steps, I believe the basic foundation of each of the steps to be critical to recovery success!

In the two respective groups below, I have provided a highlighted analysis of each step.

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

One of the underpinning reasons why you are addicted to alcohol is the fact that you allowed someone to strip you of your self-respect and personal power! So, why would you ask someone who is addicted to alcohol to admit they are powerless?

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

There is a higher power that is greater than oneself, but that greater power has given you all of the tools you need to restore your own sanity. If you ask God, the universe, or the higher power to remove a painful situation in your life, that power won't remove it magically, but he or it will give you the courage to overcome it on your own.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

This step is often misconstrued, and it is frequently manipulated as a means of enlisting people to follow a religious doctrine. This step is also used as an excuse to retreat to the camaraderie of a group. Surrendering your will to God does not mean that he will hand you a life of happiness on a platter! Once again, he will give you the courage and guidance to change your own life, but you must take the necessary action to make it happen.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

It's ok to admit to your wrongdoings. However, that admission of guilt quickly turns into self-incrimination and victimization when you combine it with powerlessness!

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Let's get something straight; we are all connected, we are all created equal, and we are all children of God! Therefore, we do not have personal shortcomings and defects of character! Why would you tell someone who already has a low self-esteem that they have personal shortcomings and defects of character!

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

God, the universe, or higher power will not remove anything, but he or it will give you the power and courage to change your own life!

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Ok! So let me try and understand this step! You're supposed to apologize to and make amends with some of the very people who stripped you of your self-respect and personal power in the first place? How can you restore your self-esteem by reconciling and submitting to dysfunctional treatment?

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This step parallels step eight, which I have rebutted above!

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Willpower and/or behavioral modification are not effective in eliminating addictive behavior. If you liberate yourself from the root of the addiction and restore your self-esteem habitual behavior becomes repulsive!


4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I believe self-discovery and self-reflection to be a critical component to beating alcohol addiction. However, when it is described as taking a moral inventory and it is combined with the terms personal shortcomings and defects of character, it quickly becomes a journey of blame and guilt! I believe self-reflection and discovery should be pursued in a positive sense by searching for ones spiritual growth, life purpose, and the lesson to be learned from addiction.

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.

The goal of the Twelve-Step Program is a spiritual awakening, although most people find it difficult to make this connection because they feel victimized by someone else's behavior. Meditation and/or deep prayer is not only a critical component to making contact with your true self or higher consciousness, but it is also the key to awakening your true personal power and abstaining from addictive behavior! However, the vast majority of twelve-step participants confuse spirituality with religious practice, but they are vastly different. The practicing of outward ideals is not a substitute for inner righteousness!

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.

This step suggests service to ones fellow man. However, that recommendation is grounded purely in the basis of helping others overcome alcoholism. I believe this step is often used as a method of recruitment for the Alcoholics Anonymous Group. People who have adopted victimization seek camaraderie with those that suffer from the same affliction. So, the more the merrier!! I have a different take on service - one that promotes acts of random kindness. You see, it's the small stuff that makes the difference! Things like; holding a door open for someone, offering a kind word, or helping an elderly person or a child. These random acts of kindness fuel unconditional love, feed the soul, and promote selflessness - something that is non-existent in addictive behavior!

In conclusion, the spiritual aspect of the Twelve-Step Program does have merit, and it is a vital and necessary component to recovery. However, nine of the steps are either self-incriminating, or they promote the concept of powerlessness which prevents most participants from achieving success. Addiction recovery requires empowerment not powelessness!

Best WishesPsychology Articles,

David Roppo

The Addiction Freedom Coach

For more information on how to overcome your addiction or how to stop drinking subscribe to my free e-guide below………

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As a life coach, Roppo has helped addicted clients learn the secrets of how to stop drinking, and he has established his unique five-step process as a potential benchmark for recovery. His success has overwhelmingly convinced him that the mainstream approach to alcoholism is fundamentally amiss because traditional 12-Step Programs attempt to defeat the symptoms rather than address the core issue.

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