image of alcoholics anonymous book w coins

Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 Step Recovery Programs

The 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, was first presented to the public in 1935. We’ve learned a lot since then.

image of alcoholics anonymous book w coinsThe basic principles behind the 12 steps are the backbone of the AA program. However, in order to conform to insurance guidelines, many of the treatment programs that are based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, focus on the parts that can be squeezed into a 28-day program. Many do not realize that most people never even work the 12 steps at a 12 step treatment center.

Here is a reprint of Alcoholics Anonymous' 12 Steps.

From the Service Material from the General Service Office.


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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

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

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

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.

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.

image of Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous founder, for Gulf Breeze Recovery landing page on 12 step programs

Bill W., who is credited with founding Alcoholics Anonymous, considered each step to be a spiritual principle in and of itself, which he outlined in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, essays on the principles behind each step. AA's founders believed that reading these principles and actually practicing them in day-to-day life are two entirely different things (and that the latter often takes more than 28-days).

These are definitions commonly used by members of AA to describe principles associated with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

HONESTY – Fairness and straightforwardness of conduct: adherence to the facts.

HOPE – To expect with desire; something on which hopes are centered.

FAITH – Complete confidence; belief and trust.

COURAGE – Firmness of mind and will in the face of extreme difficulty; mental or moral strength to withstand fear.

INTEGRITY – The quality or state of being complete or undivided; soundness.

WILLINGNESS – Prompt to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or without reluctance.

HUMILITY – Not proud or haughty; not arrogant or assertive; a clear and concise understanding of what we are, followed by a sincere desire to become what we can be.

LOVE – Unselfish concern that freely accepts another in loyalty and seeks his good to hold dear.

DISCIPLINE – Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; to bring under control; to train or develop by instruction.

PATIENCE/PERSEVERANCE – Steadfast despite opposition or adversity; able or willing to bear; to persist in an understanding in spite of counter influences.

AWARENESS – Alive and alert; vigilance in observing.

SERVICE – A helpful act; contribution to the welfare of others; useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity.

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When AA's 12 Steps are presented as a set of directions, behavior modifications and self-improvement techniques, which is often a misunderstanding that can occur, they often do not work.

image of young man sitting a beautiful beach at sundown extremely serene for Gulf Breeze Recovery non 12 step holistic drug and alcohol rehab program called THRIVE® Total Health Recovery

The experience of working the 12 steps of AA is intended to have deep, profound and long lasting transformative power and change how a once addicted person continues to experience life itself. However, for many, the message can easily get distorted, diluted, and become erroneously conflated with the rituals of the program. For the individual already suffering, it's just another failure at recovery and chronic relapse continues to occur.

The message being delivered is not at fault; it was simply never meant to be a treatment program. The 12 steps are merely suggestions for individuals engaged in mutual support to follow, with the goal of leading to meaningful insight and a shift in perspective.

The 12 steps, which were discovered in 1935, were meant to be a path leading to a “spiritual awakening” or insight.  Unfortunately, the path is filled with “prescriptive” behaviors and distracts from the original destination.  People will get so lost in the rituals that they never make it to the insight where the real freedom is found.

Today we know more.  When combined with contemporary science and modern psychology, the power of insight leads to living a life beyond addiction, free from the perceived need for ritualistic behavior. It is essential to accessing our internal, natural resilience, which is a mental health practice that was unheard of when AA and the 12 steps were introduced.

Gulf Breeze Recovery's non-12 step holistic drug and alcohol rehab doesn't discourage people from taking advantage of the things AA has to offer.

But they do suggest that the inside-out understanding at the heart of the THRIVE® Total Health Recovery program can allow for a more effective and deeper understanding of whatever path an individual may choose. Many graduates for whom chronic relapse was a problem find they get a lot more out of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings after graduating because their understanding of what they are about has changed. Many others feel no need or desire to attend 12 step meetings, and they find purpose and community elsewhere.

When we change the way we experience life, everything in life changes. That was the original intention of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. It is also the foundation of the THRIVE® Total Health Recovery program at Gulf Breeze Recovery's non-12 step holistic drug and alcohol treatment facility. The main difference is that, today, we have a greater understanding of psychology and the human experience. We now understand how insight occurs and are able to access a depth of experience that was previously thought inaccessible in a treatment setting. It's a matter of a deeper understanding of how and where our true experience comes from.

The program also delves into the effects of trauma on addiction and how brain chemistry and brain function can be corrected with EMDR, Neuro Feedback, Diet, Exercise, Sleep Science and Meditation. This holistic approach includes group and individual therapy in a serene, healing environment.

A whole person approach helps to create a mind fertile for change and transformation. The THRIVE® Total Health Recovery model promotes an inside-out path to insight that puts you back at the helm of your own ship!

Program logo: Gulf Breeze Recovery offers a true non-12-Step, holistic drug treatment program with licensed mental health professionals who have small caseloads so that they can offer individualized and intensive care and it's called THRIVE®

End Chronic Relapse and Start a New Life!

At Gulf Breeze Recovery we don’t want you to have just a great recovery, we want you to have a great life!

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