12 Step Programs, the beginning of A.A.
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Ohg Rea Tone is all or nothing. He is educated and opinionated, more clever than smart, sarcastic and forthright. He writes intuitively - often disregarding rules of composition. Comment on his posts - he will likely respond with characteristic humor or genuine empathy. He is the real-deal.

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12 Step Programs, the beginning of A.A.


Let’s talk about 12 Step Programs, Treatment Modalities, personal tantrums, drug addiction, the criminal paradigm, and hope for the future. You have entered a world of faith, a particular faith. My response is one of a pleased parent. Your choice of a mainstream denomination pleases me. A 12 step program accepts a variety of faiths – disputing virtually none. Once seen as a cult for losers – 12 Step programs earned the respect of the medical and ministry communities.

I am a student of history; the history of many things. I like narrative history, as in biographies or autobiographies. I enjoy and promote the idea that an individual can make a difference. A movement started by two people made a huge difference in the lives of many. That movement has become the basis for all 12 Step Programs.

While the 12 Steps proved to be instrumental in defining a movement, the central idea was, and is, of one afflicted person helping another. This idea originated as an organizational value with the Washingtonians, founded in a tavern in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1840 – Ten years before cocaine was reduced to power form and 100 years before Alcoholics Anonymous. The Washingtonians at one time had a membership of around 300,000. The organization faltered when the members used it to promote other causes, such as the temperance movement, sectarian religion, and abolition of slavery. Their failure was not lost to history.

The Oxford Group preceded Alcoholics Anonymous by about 30 years. Their initial identity was as the “First Century Christian Fellowship,” which was changed in 1928 to “The Oxford Group.” Formed at Oxford University in England by Frank Buchman, a Christian Minister, they employed concepts of surrender, guidance by the Holy Spirit, sharing group support, confession and redemption, and faith and prayer. Their values centered on Love, Purity, Honesty, and Unselfishness. The founders of AA, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, had both attended Oxford Group meetings before they met each other. The Oxford Group had six precepts, as described by Bill Wilson:

We admitted we were licked.

We got honest with ourselves.

We talked it over with another person.

We made amends to those we had harmed.

We tried to carry this message to others with no thought of reward.

We prayed to whatever God we thought there was.

Bill Wilson met Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Bill had been sober for a while and had learned through the Oxford Group that working with others was essential in staying sober. He found Dr. Bob, an alcoholic and drug addict, and they partnered to find a third. By 1938 they had 100 men sober in the Akron, Ohio, area. They decided to write their experience, strength, and hope in a text that others could use. They named the text Alcoholics Anonymous, first published in 1939, and from whence the group would take its name.

Page 59 of the text first identified the 12 steps, stating, “…here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery…”

I cannot bring myself to talk about this issue without noting that addiction is not a personality disorder. While the ingestion of drugs (alcohol is a drug) distorts the personality, the cause and effect must be understood. The distortion is a result of the drug – not a cause of the drug.

Addiction is a disease – the virus of chemical agents, foreign bodies, introduced to humans that result in illness and despair. Addiction is an illness in the same context as heart disease or diabetes. It is genetic, and lifestyle can cause a progression of the illness, and lifestyle can assist in arresting the illness. These diseases are chronic, progressive, incurable, and sometimes fatal.

The AA and NA movements address the lifestyle changes.


See Also:

12 Steps – Maturing over time

12 Steps – a Program of Recovery

On Addiction

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