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Equipping the Saints to Counsel - Lesson 6

by Dr. Ray Self



The Twelve Step Program

Click the play button to begin video lesson and follow along with the class notes below the video window. When you complete this video, click the "Lesson Assignment" button at the bottom of this page to open the lesson assignment.

The Twelve Step Program

The twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles for recovery from addiction, compulsion, or other behavioral problems. Originally proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a method of recovery from alcoholism, the Twelve Steps were first published in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. The method was then adapted, and became the foundation of other twelve-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous and Emotions Anonymous.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first twelve-step program, was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, known to AA members as "Bill W." and "Dr. Bob", in Akron, Ohio. They established the tradition within the "anonymous" twelve-step programs of using only first names. In 1953 AA gave permission for Narcotics Anonymous to use its Steps and Traditions. As AA was growing in the 1930s and 1940s, definite guiding principles began to emerge as the Twelve Traditions. A singleness of purpose emerged as tradition five: "Each group has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers." Consequently, drug addicts who do not suffer from the specifics of alcoholism involved in AA hoping for recovery technically are not welcome in "closed" meetings for alcoholics only. The reason for such emphasis on alcoholism as the problem is to overcome denial and distraction. Thus the principles of AA have been used to form many numbers of other fellowships for those recovering from various pathologies, each of which in term emphasizes recovery from the specific malady which brought the sufferer into the fellowship

The Twelve Steps

These are the original Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous. Scriptures were added by me. It should be understood that the only higher power that can bring healing is Jesus. There is no other higher power.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. Ecclesiastes 2:17 - So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Psalms 103:2 - Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Psalms 37:5 - Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Psalms 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. James 5:16 - Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Matthew 9:28 - When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Matthew 7:7 - Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Mark 11:25 - Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 2 Samuel 9:7 - David said to him, "Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly."
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Galatians 6:4 - But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.
  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. Matthew 6:10 - Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
  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. Acts 8:12 - But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike.

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