The 12 Steps: What are They and Where did They Come From?

    You don’t have to be an addict to know the Twelve Steps. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t at least heard of the program. But that’s not because of it being depicted in television, movies, or books. It’s because it works. So many people struggling against addiction have found hope through the Twelve Steps and the communities of people who live out their principles.

    But where did the Twelve Steps come from? And, what exactly are they? I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks giving a brief overview of what the origin of the Twelve Steps is, what they are, and how they can help everyone.

That’s right! Even if you’re not an addict, the Twelve Steps can help you!

    In the early 1900’s, there was a religious movement in the US and Europe called the Oxford Group that was gaining popularity. Its members used a basic formula of self-improvement that included performing an inventory of themselves, admitting their wrongs, making amends with those that they hurt, praying and meditating, and carrying their message to others. 

    In the early 1930’s a man in Rhode Island named Rowland H., sought help for his alcoholism from Carl Jung. Jung was a very well known psychoanalyst and he said that Rowland’s case was hopeless. He told him that he would only be able to find relief from his affliction by having a “vital spiritual experience.” So he sent him to the Oxford Group. Later, Rowland brought along another man named Ebby T. and, together with a few others, they found recovery and healing by practicing the principles of the Oxford Group. 

    Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, one of Ebby’s old friends, Bill W., was becoming successful and powerful in his job as a stockbroker. He was 39 and had a career and everything else that would make a person look happy and complete on the outside. But, on the inside his alcohol addiction was killing him. He sought out medical treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan. But, no matter what he tried, he couldn’t stop drinking. 

    Ebby came to Bill and shared his story about how the Oxford Group had transformed his life and given him hope. Bill wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t until he landed in the hospital for another round of treatment for alcoholism that he had an experience that would forever change his life, as well as countless others. 

    Bill had a powerful spiritual experience while in his hospital bed. His depression and despair that had plagued him for so long were lifted. He felt a freedom that he had never felt before! He stopped drinking! For the rest of his life, Bill tried to help others who had the same issue as him find recovery and hope. Alcoholics Anonymous and, through it, the Twelve Steps had started. And it would go on to change the worlds of addicts forever.

    Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about each of the steps. Since volumes of books have been devoted to them, one blog post on each will in no way be exhaustive. But, if these posts are helpful to you, I’d love to invite you to comment below on how the the post or the Twelve Steps has left an impact. I’d also love to invite you to share the blog posts or Instagram posts with those that may need them. 

And if you're looking to start your own journey to recovery and hope, I'd love to help! Check out my website to set up an appointment to talk!