As AA grows and its population changes, Bill feels the need to reinterpret the Twelve Steps in a way that is responsive to the new membership of AA, and more accurately reflects the program of the New York fellowship. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions presents Bill’s new interpretation of the Twelve Steps. The new interpretation is both more social and more psychological than the Big Book.

“Alcoholics Anonymous,” published when our membership was small, dealt with low bottom cases only. Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A., but did not succeed…in the following years this changed.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

AA is now composed of a growing number of alcoholics who still have their health, families, and jobs. Some of these newcomers are also relatively young. Because they are less desperate, these newcomers are also less motivated to work the Steps.

Few people will sincerely try to practice the A.A. program unless they have hit bottom…the average alcoholic…doesn’t care for this prospect—unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

In order to address the needs of this population, Bill “widens the hoop” that members have to jump through in order to feel that they are actively working the AA program. He accomplishes this primarily by introducing the “method of substitution” in his Third Step instructions, and making major changes to the inventory process.

In speaking of the trouble that many AA’s have with turning their will and life over to the care of God, Bill says this:

[Many people] begin to solve the problem by the method of substitution. You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your “higher power”…many members…have crossed the threshold just this way…most of them began to talk of God.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Bill clearly expects that alcoholics who use AA as their higher power will eventually adopt a more spiritual outlook. However, Bill’s method of substitution also makes it possible for AA members to feel that they are honestly working the Steps without ever turning their lives over to the care of God.

Bill’s new instructions for the Fourth Step are another significant development. The Big Book outlines an inventory process that sees selfishness as the root of the alcoholic’s problems. In Bill’s new version, however, the root of the alcoholic’s problems is not selfishness, but rather instincts that are out of balance.

Nearly every serious emotional problem can be seen as a case of misdirected instinct. When that happens, our great natural assets, the instincts, have turned into physical and mental liabilities.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

Also, the 12&12 inventory is not focused strictly on defects of character:

The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

This new inventory is not meant to resemble a soul surgery, in which the Stepworker identifies and carves out the defects of character that are blocking his or her soul from God. Rather, this inventory is an open-ended process of introspection and reflection.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is less hopeful than the Big Book about the results a person can expect from working the Twelve Steps. There is no promise of a life of freedom from selfishness, or a new life of intimacy with spiritual power. Instead, recovering alcoholics should be content with gradual progress over a long period of time.

Having been granted a perfect release from alcoholism, why then shouldn’t we be able to achieve by the same means a perfect release from every other difficulty or defect? This is the riddle of our existence, the full answer to which may only be in the mind of God.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

The sentiment that alcoholics should expect sobriety to be marked by long periods of struggle with their personal shortcomings is a reflection of Bill’s own struggles with depression. His decreased expectations for the quality of his own sobriety lead him to lower his expectations for others as well. Bill’s experiences with seeking help from psychiatrist lead him to a new understanding of the inventory process that is more psychological in nature. Also, in Bill’s mind, the method of substitution is adequate because he does not have the same faith in the ability of spiritual experience to address all of the alcoholic’s troubles.

This new version of Stepwork is no longer insists on spiritual experience as the answer to the problems of the alcoholic. Instead, it offers a solution that is social and psychological in nature. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions and its brand of Stepwork effects the nature of the Twelve Steps within AA, and will also affect the practice of the Steps in all future Twelve Step fellowships.

96 Comments so far
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12and12 equals trashola

Comment by somedude

What does thet (trashola) mean? is it commentary on this site, or the 12 n 12 itself. And if so , why did you come here.

Comment by larrylive

How Soon Do We Want To Get Well…???

I can see where the Oxford Group could be a turn off to many non-religious types… BUT herein, I see why the numbers for recovered individuals have diminished. Wow… Bill’s depression has hugely impacted the recovery rates!!! I am grateful that I’ve found my way back to the Big Book… In It’s essense, I’ve been able to find the Solution to All My Problems!!! Thank You

Comment by Eddie K.

I have read the living sober book and wondered why it was passed by us.Its seems to me its a self help book and not about being recovered.

Comment by RON MARTIN

Agreed. Living Sober is way off base. I don’t know who wrote that book, but I would have never guessed it was from AA had it not said so.

Comment by Steve

Why the debate and denigration of our literature?? Living sober helped me in early sobriety and has helped legions of AAs in early sobriety all over the world.. Please resign from the debating team.

Comment by John D.

Did Bill write the 12 & 12 after taking LSD?

Comment by Steve

Nope. His LSD experiments began after the writing of the 12&12. Check out “Pass it On” for exact dates.

Comment by James R.

correct – he was still trying to recapture his white light experience steps weren’t working on his depression so he felt he left out the psychological part – when that didn’t work he stated the L.S.D NOT TO GET HIGH – was his last ditch attempt- finally he realized the problem he did very little spiritual development he said he had to break himself of the unhealthy emotional dependencies on people , circumstances EVEN AA ! he retired from leadership roll stepped down in 1955 ! and all of it left immediately he later stated I NOW LIVE IN THE SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT IN THAT SAFE CALM PLACE !

Comment by kevin m

I thought the 12 and 12 was simply a more in depth presentation of the steps.After a number of years of sobriety a deeper understanding of the steps is only natural. I love the 12 and 12 and always use it along with the big book when sponsoring people.

Comment by Steve

We see the same mechanisms at work in the “deification” of the Big Book that occurred with the Holy Bible. Man wants to control the God experience rather then being controlled by it. Bill’s home group objected to expanding the original absolutes to the 12 steps. But it is tempting to cleverly write off an entire piece of AA literature to avoid answering the 26 questions of step 4. 🙂

Comment by Colter K

What is the 26 questions of Step 4?

Comment by Brenda Lewis

Pages 64-69 of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” 4th Ed., cover at least 26 questions.

Comment by Pidgins

I find a true spiritual scientist’s honesty at work in the 12 and 12. The “pet theory” that abandoning oneself to God, making confession and restitution, and moving on to other drunks would work for anybody just didn’t fit the facts as they emerged in those early years.

Comment by Frank M.

That’s right…surrender, confession, restitution, amends, and service didn’t work for everyone in early AA and it doesn’t work for everyone now….but what do we mean by “work?” For many drunks, physical sobriety is as good as it gets. Only a minority of AA members reap the “new power, peace, happiness and sense of direction” described in the BB. The real question is whether the lowering of expectations one finds in the 12 x 12 a reflection of the limitations of alcoholics generally or could something have been done to preserve the integrity of the program as outlined in the BB. Over the last 16 yrs I have gradually moved from the latter position to the former. The dilution of the program is most likely a consequence of human nature; genuine spiritual experience inevitably “hardens” into cliches, slogans, and empty ritual. As Charles Peguy wrote, “All great things begin in mysticism and end in politics.”

Comment by Piers

Bill Wilson once wrote that AA is a sort of spiritual kindergarten. My understanding is that most AA’s in the early days sought spiritual growth through vigorous religious practice outside of the fellowship. It was a fairly homogeneous group back then too. I imagine that when they spoke of God and the kind of direction that their devotion to Him represented, they were talking about a rather well understood set of principles. We don’t really have that sort of clarity now, and perhaps that is what makes for most of the differences between that time and this.

Not everyone is going to find a deep and expanding spiritual experience within the confines of AA as such. I’m not suggesting that religion is the answer here either. As Reinhold Niebuhr, the author of the serenity prayer, noted–“Religion is a good thing for good people and a bad thing for bad people.” We well get out of AA just what each of us puts into it.

Comment by Frank M.

I’ve gotten way, way, way more out of AA than I’ve ever put in. It really is a miracle!

Comment by Paul Onnawall

This article puts into words what I have thought for many years and could not express effectively. The BB documents the “precise” experience of how arguably 40-70 people desperately “recovered” from a condition that was rapidly killing them. They didn’t have a map or a starting place. They did what they somehow mysteriously believed might work, and it did. The 12&12 is what one man thought of it all 17 years later when the novelty had worn off and he needed a man-made spiritual boost. Fours years later he was taking LSD as an artificial method of recreating the elusive spiritual experience that was no longer “firing his pistons”.

Comment by Randy P

Bill told some of his friends he was unwilling to surrender some aspects of his life to the 12 Step process. It causes me to wonder if his depression and mania were not just misdiagnosed self-pity and resentment as discussed on page 15. Though I cannot read the mind of Bill, it certainly suggests that his pursuit of therapy was an attempt to find an easier softer path. This opens up the possibility that Bill was not actually sober, but dry during his later years. The 12×12 is a good example of what happens when someone loses their spiritual compass. Remember it was published 2 years after Dr. Bob had died.

Comment by Ken C.

Therapy can also be considered a way to continue 7th and 10th Step work, by those less inclined to judge.

To say of someone, “He’s lost his spiritual compass,” is a bit of God-playing that’s unhealthy for me. When I sit in that throne looking down on others’ spiritual paths, I’m setting myself up to make other decisions and judgments I’m equally not qualified to take on. Like whether that first drink might not hurt me. This time.

Best regards,
Frank M.

Comment by Frank M.

As a man who by the grace of God and the AA program and fellowship has been sober and continually growing through service, living the Steps and Traditions, and dealing with life on life’s terms, I understand that recovery of my spiritual nature is a life-long process rather than an event. I have continually been drawn to grow closer to God out of necessity as the “onion” that I am continues to unpeel. Like Bill, I discovered deeper and deeper wells of self-hatred and delusions in my thinking processes as time has went on. I have had many “dark nights of the soul” in my 30 plus years. Please understand that longevity in working the AA program has also brought me unimagined joys and rewards that I never could have dreamed possible. At the same time, it has continually challenged me to face my darker nature that hides from sight until I am ready to face it. . Today, I love the challenges and the joys that my sober life brings. Bill was not perfect nor am I! God does not look for perfection in his “disciples.” If He did we would have no AA. If I am judging Bill’s life and shortcomings I am avoiding my own. Thank God that Bill and Bob made themselves available to do God’s work. May I continue to do the same.

Comment by John D.

May I say that you could not be more wrong if you think therapy is an easier softer way. The reason so many don’t use therapy is fear of what may be revealed. Only the brave and desperate venture in. I also see therapy as part of a fourth and fifth step. 😊

Comment by Nick charles

Information we received when we researcjed at the Episcopal Church Archives in Austin, Texas revealed what Mary Darrah’s foreword by Father John C. Ford, S.J. had written: Ford edited the 12 x 12 as he did AA Comes of Age. Father Ed Dowing, S.J. also participated in the editing. According to Mel B.’s research, Bill was in the throes of a decade of deep depression. All these factors seem to explain some of the unusual language found in the 12 x 12. Not the least of which is the statement that the AA group can be your higher power.

Comment by Dick B.

After his four-day slip, AA pioneer and atheist James Burwell (AA #4 in the NY group) took the group as his higher power. Two years later Jim switched over to “my own better self,” which he sought contact with through daily meditation. This practice served him well until the day he died in 1978 with thirty-six years of continuous sobriety. Jim wrote “The Vicious Cycle” in the first edition of the Big Book, started the first AA meetings in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and was instrumental in the development of AA in San Diego.

Bill W. was surely aware of Jim’s use of the group as his higher power. He must have known about it when the Big Book was written, but one can easily see why he wouldn’t have been inclined to complicate the message. So it’s fair to say Bill was referencing a proven practice for attaining and maintaining sobriety within the general framework of the Steps when he wrote about that approach in the 12 and 12. I’d be very surprised too, if Burwell had been the only man to go this route in those early years, after seeing that it did in fact work.

Old-timers will tell you that it’s either grow or go in recovery. The very program of AA itself could never have developed beyond the Oxford Groups without adherence to the same principle. I can see no good reason to abandon it now to the theory that at some halcyon moment in history some subset of AA had gotten it all exactly right, for everyone and for all time.

We know but a little…

Comment by Frank M.

CORRECTION: Jim B. died in 1974 not 1978. He sobered up for good on June 16, 1938.

Comment by Frank M.

Lots of old timers, my sponsor included, never work the Steps, never get a sponsor and do just fine. Joyous sobriety by simply enjoying the spiritual experience bestowed upon them by first entering this powerful Fellowship. Everyone is different.

Comment by Paul P

Gift of desperation
Good orderly direction
Group of drunks

All will keep you sober for a time

Read the Spiritual Experience in the second appendix. All that is required is a psychological adjustment sufficient to keep one sober

Comment by jnarcus

I was reading this site due to my gratitude and ever growing interest in the spiritual principles which have literally saved my life. The “basic text” is meant to be suggest only and encourages the reader 2 likewise share what was freely given him, very simple. No debate required! it’s working for me, is it working for you? are you working it

Comment by James F

The BB offers “clear cut directions” for recovery. The directions allow for individual concepts of God or a Higher Power. The BB also clearly states in “How It Works”, that “no one….has been able to maintain…perfect adherence to these principles”, “we are not saints”,”the principles..set down are guides to progress”, “we claim spiritual progress…[not].. perfection”. These qualifications do not dilute the process, but rather state the reality of experience that perfection is not required. Willingness is of course a requirement for success and is often cited.

Comment by Rob B

Thanks for this thread. The reason I stumbled here was….for the third time in a month I heard said that
“The Twelve Steps were written while Bill W. was taking
LSD”, or “The 12 and 12 were written while Bill W. was taking
LSD”. Thank you James R. for clarifying. I knew the obvious-
for one LSD was not really made available to Dr’s until the mid 50s. Also Bill W did this under a Drs supervision. The Drs did not just hand out LSD! i.e. he was not tripping with Fr Dowling
and writing the 12 and 12! It was written in 1953.
It is dangerous for me to get angry, and have to “be right” about anything, so I have not responded or confronted directly to these people, but rather approach new comers and explain to them that this is incorrect.
I do tend to agree with those that gravitate towards the purity of the BB. I have made the steps so incredibly complicated- especially the fourth, that I have slipped many times because I never took the steps. There is a tremendous amount of info on the 4th and 5th step in the BB, if one really opens ones eyes. It also helps to go to one of the BB step meetings.
Daniel B.

Comment by daniel buisson

It also helps to get a sponsor who once suffered from alcoholism, who has recovered via a spiritual experience/awakening that resulted from following the precise directions in the BB, and now has the freedom from the obsession as promised. Then it helps to do exactly what that sponsor directs as long as it can be reconciled with the BB. If the meeting, step or otherwise, says something different, then ask yourself, “is the meeting my sponsor or is my sponsor my sponsor?”

Comment by Ken C.

Excellent advice! Those of us who have recovered as a result of a spiritual experience seem to be getting rarer to find. There are many still recovering as they have spiritual awakening on the long road of happy destiny. I think Bill did a great disservice to AA with the 12 and 12. My opinion is based on having a page 25 experience of Biblical proportions. The 12 and 12 leads away from those.

Comment by witlox01

You slip because you haven’t hit bottom. Don’t blame the steps.

Comment by gayle

Bill’s writting and publishing the ” Twelve and Twelve” ruined A.A. After all, this is his veiw. Too many in A.A don’t understand or want to understand that this book is Bills’ veiw. John O. You won’t catch me at a 12 and 12 meeting. Big book has all my answers.

Comment by John O.


Comment by Robert T

We have sponsors here who do not take their people through the BB, but only use the 12 and 12. They wonder why these people never recover. The sponsors do not announce themselves as “recovered,” but “recovering” and balk at any reference to the many places where the first 100 are labeled “recovered” from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
There are some of us in solution-based meetings, but most of the meetings in this area are more like self-help, out-patient discussion groups. It is tough to get people back to the book, but no one that we know who has worked the steps from the BB with a sponsor who has a sponsor who claims a spiritual awakening and also makes use of pp. 86-88 on a daily basis has ever relapsed. It has been a slow go, but one at a time people are being reached with the original powerful message and taking it to meetings where it needs to be heard. The sole purpose of an AA meeting should be to carry the message of recovery. There are too many out there dying because a bunch of hard drinkers who were able to stop are running most of the meetings.
I was told that Bill wrote the 12 and 12 because many of the things he wrote in the manuscript of the BB were edited out and he was angry. He did not pay one of the editors and only paid the other one half. If there is anyone out there who knows where I can verify this, I would like to get the reference.

Comment by Jenn S

According to Ruth Hock, Bill’s secretary who typed up the BB, of the authors of the stories in the First Edition (who literally were the exemplary cases), about half of them went out and got drunk again. We don’t know how many made it back.

Those are your “recovered” alcoholics from the first sixty-something. Might call for rethinking some ideas.

It’s great to be absolutely certain of things. Feels almost as nice as a good drunk sometimes.

Best regards,
Frank M.

Comment by Frank M.

Must have been a manic Monday.
Thanks for the regards. Rethinking is always good. The Oxford Group did talk about the Four Absolutes.
In order for me to stay sober, I must remain teachable. Most of what I wrote is almost verbatim from my sponsor who is an old gent with 37 years. I guess I have got to stop taking his word as gospel and start checking some things out for myself.

Comment by Jenn S

So this is a frequent hot topic, and after listening, participating, agreeing, disagreeing, I recognized something. A majority of the people saying “you can never be recovered!!!…”, forget what the book says we are recovered from, “a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” Pg xiii Alcoholics Anonymous
Recovered and cured are two different words with two different meanings.
As far as wanting to use the first members stats on going back out as a way of trying to suggest AA as if its promoting false information, erroneous!! It is 2000000 strong, global. Normally I fail the program, not the other way around. Wha-wha, wha

Comment by James C.

Jenn S, I know what you mean. I’ve been checking things out for myself for a while, and it’s been well worth the effort. My problem now is I tend to take my own word as gospel. 😉

All the best,
Frank M.

Comment by Frank M.

Frank M., thank you for doing the legwork of research. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am the wife of an alcoholic, and just learning the AA & Al-Anon programs. My husband and I read the BB, 12 x 12, Daily Reflections and a few others that are Bible based. I know that I have gained a better understanding of alcoholism as an illness one has as much control over as one would cancer, or at least that’s how I interpret it. The BB and other AA approved literature is to the alcoholic like chemo, radiation therapy or even surgery is to the cancer patient… forms of treatment!
Thank you to all for this thread!
Best wishes to you all on your paths to recovery…
Shannon J

Comment by Shannon J

I love AA and am deeply appreciative of the work our co-founders did.
I also understand they were human beings and alcoholic as well. That in itself poses a delimma when attempting to be sane and reasonable and requires much soul searching.
Bill Wilson suffered from depression caused by lack of steps, if one reads the information, it is obviously the source of his problem..
For many years he was a womanizer and did not work the steps until he finally truly hit bottom and used LSD from 1956 through 1959 as noted in Pass It On. His EXCUSE for using LSD was that he was trying to find a way to bring about a spiritual experience for newcomers, and though it may sound valid to anyone who never used LSD anyone who has knows exactly what it was, and excuse! This does not make him any less inspirational and valuable to our program, in fact, it actually showed me that since they were human maybe this thing could work for me too, and it has for the past 32 years.
After he stopped using LSD in 1959 he was able to fully work the steps and seemed not to suffer the depressions that so troubled him in the past. Nor was he the boisterous ego driven person he had been.
My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson

Comment by Eve Abernethy

The Four Absolutes were the promised results if the practice of the six tenets of the Oxford Group were followed. The tenets were expanded by the first 100 to become the 12 steps. First 3 steps – Honesty, 4-6 = unselfishness, 7-9 = purity and 10-12 = love. If we truly work the 12 steps until we are living them we find the Four Absolutes present in our daily lives. We develop our own morals, principles and values intead of trying to live by anothers. It is a freedom that comes as a result of hard work, soul searching and working with others. God Bless each and every one on this spiritual journey.

Comment by Eve Abernethy

I would like to take the time to thank the authors for this site, it certainly cleared up a few things. My sympathies go out to the “low bottom drunks” who coming to AA to find a solution are offered an easier softer way i.e.; higher power other than God. only to find themselves staring at the bottom of an empty glass…again.

Comment by larrylive

How does Eve Abernathy have such clarity on what Bill’s motives were? Bill may not have been a perfect man but he was the perfect man for the job.Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to pile on “Bill Bashing”. I wonder how many of us could hold up to the scrutiny that Bill seems to have been under. No wonder he was depressed. Trying to help a bunch of self righteous, gossiping, ungrateful drunks while being scrutinized and criticised might get old after awhile.
Having said all that I still much prefer the basic text to the 12×12. 12×12 seems to be a departure from the directions in the book to me. The focus changes from manifestations of self to “basic instincts” among other things.

Comment by Charlie Parker

The 12 and 12 expands on the BB, those how don’t like it appear to enjoy wiggle room for their own interpretation which the BB can allow. I have been sober for almost 29 yrs and it has been by going to step meetings and living the AA way of life. God has blessed me in every area, thanks to this spiritual kindergarten. I know more long time AAs reflecting a program of attraction that regularily attend 12 step mtgs than any other format. However anyone can do what they are doing and they will keep getting what they are getting.

Comment by Mark S

One thing for sure, no one is an “expert” on Alcoholism. What we do know is many don’t make it. AA isn’t perfect. We are all different. For myself Psilocybin Mushrooms convinced me that I needed to get sober. I stayed away from AA for 2 sober years after that because of the religious fanatics. Religious people mean well but keep millions out of AA. Avoiding them is just one more excuse. AA for me is a way of staying saner and more spiritual, not more religious. Saner is one less reason to drink. I like the 12×12. We are a cult but the 12×12 keeps us from having leaders who control or exploit the weak. We remain a benevolent cult because of anonymity. In Southern California we have numerous Agnostic and Free Thinker meetings for the non-religous. My first sponsor, an atheist, died with 45 years of sobriety and hundreds of sponsees. I know scores of atheists and agnostics who have multiple decades of sobriety. Jimmy Burwell, the writer of the 3rd Tradition, and the author of the words “higher power” fought for us non-religous drunks, and we aim to keep his spirit alive. The IMPORTANT thing is if you know an agnostic or atheist who needs help, tell he/she to look for us. I was told about the agnostic meetings by a devout Baptist and I’ll forever be grateful. No one is excluded at our meetings, we have chairs for all.

Comment by Bob

Thank you, Bob. I am myself a sober, atheist alcoholic, and I know a young man, also an atheist, who was a chronic relapser, and who now seems to be on a steady, sober path, approaching his first anniversary. He doesn’t work a traditional AA program, but he’s growing and changing and giving back to other alkies.

WHY I know this young man is what is remarkable about AA. A devout, Hasidic Jewish AA man contacted me on a secular recovery Facebook page. He knew the young man in question, and believed he was close to death. His own higher power meant nothing to this young man. Could I help?

I could and did. That’s real AA at work.

Comment by Frank M.

The 12 and 12 is all about the traditions, not the steps. Bill was rightly concerned about a growing problem with unity in the fellowship, and so began writing his essays on the traditions and publishing them in the Grapevine starting in 1946. The weren’t well-received…. “Too many rules!!”, “We’ve been doing just fine!!”, “We don’t need no stinkin’ traditions!!” – the drunks replied.

But Bill knew better. Some groups were charging membership fees, some groups did not allow people of color, some groups even served beer during meetings. We *NEEDED* a set of guidelines to maintain some unity and keep our humble fellowship focused on helping drunks get sober.

Bill said he added the essays on the Steps so that members would buy the book, and then read and become aware of the Traditions, which were formally adopted unanimously at the 1955 Convention.

I don’t care much for the Steps part of the book… it is so much less inspired than the Book, itself – but the Traditions are a master-stroke. Without the 12 Traditions the fellowship of A.A. would have surely followed the Oxford Group as well as The Washingtonians down the dismal path of historical obscurity.

The Steps keep us sober. The Traditions keep the fellowship sober.

James I.

Comment by James I.

If it weren’t for the 3rd tradition, I wouldn’t be an AA member. That’s about all that book is good for. Too much psychobabble, which doesn’t help the alkie.

Comment by gayle

* the Traditions were formally adopted at the 1950 convention held in Cleveland, actually :o) Happy Holidays, everyone.

Comment by iampeth2007

And adopted by a consensus of reviewers with much discussion. It was not adopted on a whim or by a minority of mere personal opinions of members believing themselves having superior insight than our co-founder regarding the Program. Thank you for the simple reminder and
your comment.

Comment by Chris F.

The Twelve Traditions are one of the great documents of the Twentieth Century. I owe my sobriety to Bill Wilson’s strategic vision embodied in the Twelve Traditions, which underpin the continuity of Alcoholics Anonymous Groups, which serve as a practical antidote for Bob’s self-centered alcoholic dilemma.

An old timer in my home group told me early on, as I executed the Twelve Steps with enthusiastic precision, “It will be the Traditions which are the key to sobriety for an alcoholic of your type, because the Steps are still all about you!”

How right he was; and after all these years I realize Bill’s unique contribution to our sobriety is the Twelve Traditions, as I find the spiritual program of action in the Twelve Steps to be a universal path to spiritual awakening, but identification and service are unique to our group life. Spiritus contra Spiritus..

in gratitude…bob kay

Comment by bob kay

Reading all the comments above you’d think a drunk needed to be a historian, a psychologists, a philosopher and a theologian all at the same time to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. If any drunk had to be all those things to stay sober and achieve the promises A.A. wouldn’t be around today. A.A. is not a religion, social club, psychological organization, or any other type of professional organization and none of the literature, including the Big Book, are religious documents, legal documents, or scientific texts.
Nobody on their own, including myself, is any sort of authority. A.A. has but one ultimate authority—a loving “God” as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants. Some of the commenters above sound like they think they’re A.A. High Priests.

For the first 6 months of my serious attempts to get sober, after I had acquired a desire to stop drinking, I couldn’t stay away from the drink. At the end of that 6 months I reached a new bottom and ended up in detox. When I got out of detox what kept me sober for the next 3 years was staying out of bars and other places with lots of alcohol, getting a home group, getting what my sponsor called a “home 12 steps group(12 and 12, NOT Big Book), and getting into service (at my home group.) Once I was ready to do all of steps 4-12 THEN I went back and reread the Big Book , went to Big Book Step meetings,and did steps 4 and 5 from there. I am happy to say the promises have come true for me. Everybody’s different so what worked for me may not work for somebody else. I’ve known people who had “white light” type spiritual experiences who couldn’t stay sober, and people who attended multiple meetings a day and had great sponsors who took them through the steps as outlined in the Big Book who couldn’t stay sober and on the flip side I’ve know alcoholics who recognized that they lost complete control once they started drinking, stopped drinking, attended a few meetings, and are still sober and happy decades later. We still have a lot to learn about Alcoholism and A.A and the steps are great but not a one size fits all magic wand.

Comment by Dave F

Is the 12 12 normally used as a book to be taken through like the big book? Some elements of my own fellowship are already doing it, and I don’t feel good about it. The directions are in the big book are they not. Is this normal, and who ordained it?

Comment by David

The Big Book was written only a few short years after A.A. was founded based on the experiences of a relatively small number of people who were predominately low bottom drunks, white, male, and had been very well educated and successful before alcohol brought them low. By their own admission when the book was written they were “flying blind”. As the membership of A.A. expanded, became more heterogeneous, had more members who hadn’t reached the “low bottom” of the earliest members, and as the membership across the country started to share notes they realized that they needed to rewrite the Big Book (that was never going to fly) or add an “addendum” that would make the program more accessible to a larger group of junks. Don’t forget the passage in “A Vision for You” in the Big Book that states “Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize
we know only a little. God will constantly disclose
more to you and to us”. Hopefully A.A. will continue to grow and that members will share with each other what they have found to work and to not work.

Comment by Dave F

Here is an excerpt from a letter dated May 20, 1952 from Bill W. to Fr. Ed Dowling:

“A few people think that the Traditions aren’t covered with enough dignity – that posterity may not like them for that reason. However, we feel that we are writing for the information of alcoholics who ordinarily have no time to read anything much except as it concerns their own survival. Our idea is to publish the Twelve Steps and these Twelve Traditions in a small book to appear, I hope, by next fall. If we are able to do a fair job on the Steps, that will be helpful and, published along with the Traditions, they may act as a bait for reading the latter. However, we’ll see.”


Drunks that sit around bitching about the steps portion of the 12&12 need to get over themselves, call their sponsor, and then go find a newcomer to work with!!

Ask yourself… have you ever heard a drunk bitch about the Traditions part of the book? Answer: No

Comment by James I

I read this to gain more knowledge on the year the book 12 Steps & 12 Traditions came out.I have 4yrs sober in AA and I attend meetings on a regular basis. I have worked the 12 steps with a Sponsor but it’s worked by me over, over you are never done this is a process daily so learning never ends. So I want to learn everything.

Comment by Gloria Williams

This has been very enlightening to say the least. I have been a member of this wonderful fellowship for many years. I am considered an old timer. I really don’t like that word because just because you are in the program for a long time doesn’t mean you have the answers to the whole program. Unless a person is willing to be open-minded, honest, and willing to work which means “to do” the steps nothing will happen in that person. When nothing is done the result is nothing. On page 449-452 is someone’s experience about acceptance in the third edition of the BB, which states that until they could accept the disease of alcoholism they couldn’t stay sober and when they accepted life on life’s terms they could not have happiness. It further states that they needed to concentrate on what needed to be changed in their attitude and thoughts and not concentrate on others. I have found that when I am working the steps, I don’t have spare time to waste because my new employer has got be busy helping other alcoholics by sharing with them. When I speak with a newcomer, I am real with them and tell them that I don’t know all. I encourage them to ask questions and quiz me. My sponsor told me that if I couldn’t find what she said in the BB or the 12×12 that it was her experience and not the authors. I try and present this program the way it was presented to me with caring and sharing and love. My sponsor was there for me and I try to follow the same principles that were given to me freely. One day we all will meet each other as we trudge this road of happy destiny but for now I will see you in my daily meditations and prayer that the one who has all power will keep you safe and secure in the fellowship of the spirit in the palm of that hand.

I am Responsible when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there and for that I am Responsible. That means to me that I need to keep in spiritual growth in order to be there because without continuous growth in this wonderful program I will surely die.

Thanks for sharing and caring,

Judy (1981)

Comment by Judy

12 n 12 published in 1953, right from the a.a. website.

Comment by ben scharf

If you have completely, not perfectly but completely, embraced the twelve steps as they are laid out in the big book and have practiced the principles in your life for a few years you should find the Twelve and Twelve stimulating and essential to your continuing sobriety. it is a beautiful expansion, through experience, of the principles that saved many lives mine included. Give it a chance. Unless you suffer from contempt prior to investigation then there truly is little hope.

Comment by Louis Di

just a thought- I’ve been continuously sober for 36 yrs-it began with a spiritual experience similar to Bill’s.
And it began my journey that day- .a fantastic journey! Like another writer said in this thread:
– you get out of it what you put into it.
I’m a veteran like Bill. .2 combat tours. Diagnosed by the VA with ptsd, I still am a bit of an adrenaline junky. No stock market gambling for a high, mine is more outdoor stuff, and i,too,go down once in awhile with depression. Still don”t drink or use no matter what and use no medication that affects me from the neck up.
Where did i get the wisdom to know how to navigate all the hurdles and stay sober? it’s this simple: One drunk talking to another. The framework of AA,( including the 12 and 12) has given me a place to do that AA today is built upon a lot of body bags. sometimes I believe we forget. “Don’t analyze. Utilize” remember the old timers telling us that?,
I still do what It was suggested in the beginning; which includes a step study. And I try not to forget rule 69, kids.. Joel

Comment by Joel Seay

Dr. Bob’s last words to Bill: “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!” (1950). I believe Dr. Bob was the governor on Bill’s accelerator pedal. When Dr. Bob uttered those words he knew his days were short and his ability to “louse” things up were 0 so his statement was a soft way of saying “Bill don’t screw it up!”.

Two years after Dr. Bob’s passing in 1952 the 12&12 is published. Thankfully the forward states: “The book “Alcoholics Anonymous” became the basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is.” So the 12&12 is subservient and accountable to the Big Book – Thank God.

Today a 46 page catalog of “conference approved” literature, printed mostly in 9 point type is loaded with “keep it simple” stuff.

Homework: “word search” the Big Book for “simple” and really read to understand the word’s context and what it means, not how you “interpret it”.

Comment by Mick

I much prefer the 12×12 to the Big Book. I often refer to other books from other 12 step programs. They have all been very helpful to me. I’ve been sober quite a few years and it is working for me. Some of my character defects seem to have diminished and some are still there. I’m not interested in the letter of the word, I’m interested in the spirit. However anyone gets sober, what books they use or don’t use, whether or not they use a sponsor, etc. is their business. What I do works for me and as a result of working the steps I have a happy and rewarding life. I hope what others do leads to the same result. Thank you for letting me share.

Comment by Bob

I agree with your comment. All of the literature goes through an extensive review and is approved if warrants inclusion in the program archives. Thanks.

Comment by Chris F.

I keep it simple the instruction are in the big book and that’s where how find the answers to my problems ..I only go to AA meeting to find a new comer to work with thats it . I dont need to sit and bloody complain why i’m bent out of shape .. …I dont need to have anyone co sign my bullshit.The big book showed me that i need to be accountable for my actions and what i need to do to change …i tell you its easy to lead a double life I can show you my AA stage character ,then once im home im fckin asshole ..For me i work the steps in all my affairs is whats the book is all about and when i feel off i work with other through the basic text to insure immunity against relapse and all my defects of character.

Comment by peter S

I teach history and I find this all interesting and entertaining, I don’t know about useful …. maybe. Is the Bible more important than the living God or the living Christ? Are all the Eastern works of wisdom more important than the living enlightenment of Budha? Are any AA books more important than alchoholics sincerely working together to understand their dis-ease and the solution to their condition? If all the books in the world disappeared tomorrow are we all hopelessly lost? Every moment of every day in a body here on earth I make a decision, think a thought or perform an action that is either based in love or some form of fear, based in giving or taking and is either useful and helpful to those around me …or not. (I have lots of evidence why I need to do lots of the latter). These moments of actions take place all day long “in all my affairs”. I can’t give what I don’t have and I can’t receive anything when I’m already full, (of myself). I respect all of us here in this workshop. In some weird way that I don’t fully understand, I am you and you are me, and we trudge this Road of Happy? Destiny together. Kent R.

Comment by Kent Ratekin

Thank you Kent R for distilling some basics for regrounding – I feel great unity and serenity when I am able to remember our basic bond, molecular or spiritual, where I am you, you are me, and we are one (didn’t capitalize that let word purposefully :))

Comment by Steve Hankins

This is a spiritual progr

Comment by hayden hinton

yes, ultimately, the power is one alcoholic talking to another, with the sincere desire to abstain from alcohol and become a better, more aware person. It has been said that AA is a spiritual program for a spiritual disease, a 3-fold disease. Never ceases to amaze me that somehow, despite individual variation in levels of tolerance/acceptance/grandiose ego/self-will run riot/wisdom/experience/and extra-curricular (ie non AA) ways of working on Self, the program works for those who work it. A percentage of us are attracted to it and stick to it for reasons that could be analysed; it is important not to assume that AA works for every drinker.
RE. the talk of Bill and his use of LSD, I am reminded of the fact that one of the spiritual founders of AA was in fact Carl Jung (indirectly). I did quite a bit of LSD in my early twenties, also dope smoking, and increasingly, drinking. I value enormously the things I learned about “reality” doing drugs. I choose not to use drugs today, but believe that experimenting with substances and how they expand our (very limited) minds is not in and of itself a bad thing. In fact I think it can be a good thing, a valuable thing. The problem is with addiction – any addiction. With running away instead of facing up and being in the here and now with a right minded attitude, one of equilibrium. And of course, we are all so pre-disposed to obsessive-compulsive behaviour/the monkey mind, that any addictive substance/experience (ie intense pleasure) has a high possibility of entraining addiction to it.
I have been sober for 22 years, and I find that a good test of just how mature I am or not on any given day, is whether I am compassionate towards people who bug me, understanding that we are all struggling with being human, or whether I want to assassinate them, one way or another. I find that reading the 12 and 12 on a regular basis, or the Big Book, never fails to prompt honest reflection on how I am travelling re. being someone who is ok in the day, in the world, or whether I have my knickers in some ridiculous waste of time self-righteous snit about someone or something.
I’ve enjoyed reading through this page. I love that so many alkies are smart and articulate, and reach out. Thank you!

Comment by Genevieve

The Third Step makes a profound point when it suggests that belief in itself may not be sufficient, but that a “faith” that is demonstrated in practical adherence to the principles is what works. The first word in Chapter 3 of the ‘Twelve and Twelve” is Practicing, or taking action. I love and refer to the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions often and with my sponsees. With 32 years of continuing sobriety from day one of my introduction to AA, this is one of the things I use that seems to have worked.

Comment by Chris F.

When I came into A.A. I was 24 years old. I hit bottom with alcohol, went to beginners meetings indoctrinated with the twelve & twelve. My first sponsor worked the 12 steps out of the Hazelton workbooks & a lot of service. That work for a good while. Eventually I hit a second bottom which was an emotional bottom. I then was introduced by a second new sponsor how brought me through the 12 steps out of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and instead of trusting on human basic instincts, I trusted on God & service to another alcoholics. I am now 54 years old with 30 years.

Comment by Louis C.

The BB not only outlines the 12 step programme of recovery very clearly but also writes of the history of AA, which is invaluable to helping anyone who reads it see just what an amazing miracle AA and the programme is. Let’s also not forget the other 12 step fellowships that have also been born from the BB.
When I first came to AA it was all I could manage to go through the steps outlined in the first 164 pages, I couldn’t have digested the 12 and 12 in my early days. However, almost 6 years on I have grown and so has my library. My suggestion to those that are new is to have an experience through a simple a process as possible. It has been proven the BB way works so why complicate it. Once permanent recovery is achieved one day at a time it is beautiful to increase our knowledge as we grow. Tradition 5 writes “My sponsor sold me one idea, sobriety because at the time I couldn’t of bought anything else”
God bless you all however you find peace.
It is a wonderful blessing to be sober and a member of AA


Comment by Jayne McCarthy

I have 23 years sobriety. My sponsor has 28. He is one of those who is prejudiced against the 12&12 because he bought into the Big Book Awakening and the author’s notion that the 12&12 was intended to replace the BB. I take people through the steps with the BB not the BBA or the 12&12. I teach it this way: the steps I took become the principles I practice. I don’t need anything outside the BB for taking the steps and the 12&12 for enhancing the practice of the principles. On another note the basic instincts and the manifestations of self are the same things.

Comment by Ronald R.

The only thing that keeps people sober is an unexplainable, undeserved miracle that happens to less than 2 percent of people who try AA.
And we work the steps as the result of already having had this miracle happen to us.
If you read AA history, you know that Silky told Bill that his white flash story was hurting AA grow. Newcomers thought he was nuts. So he understated it in the BB. He lied to help AA grow. He lied about taking the steps prior to his spiritual experience.
People stay sober because HP (and you needn’t believe in a damn thing)
has given them the gift of loving AA.
I’m 36 years sober. And I don’t think my sponsor of 33 years actually believes in sponsorship. And I know he’s never read the BB. Though I love it.

Comment by Paul P

This has been quite an interesting read – the article and the comments. All of the meeting personalities are present: the “A.A. High Priests” (what a great label!) who mask narrow-minded, angry opinions as fact, the historians – thank God for them, the uninformed Big Book thumpers saying things in direct contradiction to the Big Book, and the one’s with the sparkling eyes who are filled with love and don’t have to say a word for us to know it. They have found peace and strength through the steps, honesty, openmindedness, and willingness to take the steps – as we were told in the Big Book. Another person brought up the unarguable fact that each day is a series of decisions we make and actions we take, which are either based on love or fear. Now THAT’S keeping it simple, and yet, how hard is it to remember and practice each day? Damned hard for me sometimes!

We’re all saying what we believe, but are we all carrying the message? I thank everyone for their contribution to this discussion as I appreciate everyone’s input in a meeting, and I thank the author for the time invested in this site.

Here’s my problem with the 12 and 12: I see being used in Beginner’s meetings, which I think is the last place it should be used. Others here have touched on this. I was at a Beginner’s Meeting last week where the chairperson read out of the 12 and 12. I looked around the room as he was reading the chapter on step 3. Some of those poor newcomers didn’t have a clue what Bill was talking about! My point is, if there is anywhere we should keep AA simple it’s at a Beginner’s Meeting. I wonder how many have not returned because of the intellectual nature of the12 and 12? I made the mistake of saying this when it was my turn to talk in the meeting. Even as I was talking, I realized it sounded like I was ripping the meeting for how they conducted it, when I simply wanted my message to the newcomers there to be, ‘don’t worry about whether you understand this. You don’t have to right now to stay sober! This is a program of action, not thinking!’ I told the group I meant no disrespect to how they ran the meeting. two newcomers thanked me Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a place in A.A. for the 12 and 12 (we used to call it 12 by 12 in Anchorage, where I sobered up in 1983.) I’ve never been a fan of the 12 and 12, but there are parts of it I enjoy reading, and I know others put a great deal of stock in it. Please though, not in Beginner’s Meetings.

Thanks for this site and the discussion here. Because of landing on this page, I spent the better part of 2.5 hours hopping between and reading AA history sites. That was time well spent. Thank you.


Comment by Paul

An amazing program.
Being an alcoholic has taught me a new way of living I THANK this program for my . SOBRIETY

Comment by Lydia S

For me AA equals awesome.
Loved all the comments, those I agreed with and those I didn’t. The thing I found most interesting is that evidently some of us believe that we know what others of us need to: Do, Think and Believe if they are to stay sober.
Hum, interesting.
Yours in service.

Comment by Jerry Corbegt

I’m curious as to when the 12&12 was written ? It was published in 1952 , and I thought it was written in 1946 and accepted by AA in 1950 ? Thanks

Comment by Leonard Perry

What you say in this article is most interesting to a alcaholic of the real variety. The spiritual release is the only answer for the original Big Book has proclaimed this prophecy no less than 4 times. It also claims the only way to grow spiritually is to work with another alcaholic. I’ve tried both ways. The meeting makers way, which is undoubtedly the softer easier way. In my twelve year of making meetings, not reading the big book and certainly not giving the program to a new man coming in the rooms, I was ready to blow my brains out in drybriety!!!
Once I became sufficiently desperate I actually read the Big Book and followed it to the T. I have grown spiritually and drew closer to God as a result. With each man I read with and walk through the steps I feel a sense of liberation and happiness that one can only aquire by actually doing step twelve with another person.
So you the medicinal value in AA is not taking the steps, it’s by administering the steps and Bill has clearly lost sight of his original vision from God in the twelve and twelve.

It works it really works!!!

Comment by David McCasey

Hmmm, doing good works. Makes sense to me. I have heard it said “All miracles are acts of love”. It’s a miracle I’m sober. a friend also said blessings aren’t rewards, their indications that more work needs to be done.

Comment by Larry

Everyone who comes to AA has the same chance. The miracle only comes via step 10. Placed in a position of neutrality. Have to take all 9 steps to acquire the ‘miracle’.

Comment by gayle

“We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.”

Comment by Paul D.

We are all individuals recovering from the same illness. As individuals what appeals to each of us in our journey of healing from alcoholism is what’s important. The 12&12 qnd the BIg Book are both great sources of guidance and inspiration, so why bicker and criticize either source? I learned long ago to take what I like and leave the rest. These are the unnecessary arguments that can tear our beautiful program apart. When we say that only one book is the “right book” we are repeating the way in which religions have created animosity and ebven between people. In all my years I have found that the only indicator of whether a book or a way or a method works is if it works for me. Please don’t create unnecessary divisions divisions between us over which piece of literature is “right or wrong.” Let Go and Let God, and let our first Tradition on Unity be our Guide.

Comment by John Daubney

If the AA program and way of life works for me that is all that matters. Why argue about how words are used? If I can use the AA program as I understand it, do the work, and achieve long term sobriety than I have something to offer the still sick and suffering alcoholic who enters an AA room for the first time – my experience, strength and hope.

Comment by John D.

AA is unique in that there are no dogmas to obey,- only encouragement to go further into one’s own spiritual journey. Bill’s contribution in the 12×12 is to keep this discussion pertinent and contemporary which is wise if the Fellowship is to remain relevant into the future . I encourage all to read, or re-read, Bill’s words in the chapter on Step 12, as I did today. What a tour de force! He breaks Step 12 down into parts and hones in on the emotional sobriety aspect necessary for full & meaningful recovery from alcoholism. Emotional sobriety is termed ‘the last frontier’ & once again Bill is the pioneer guiding us to explore and repair this part of ourselves. I thank Bill for these insights and all his efforts to help us get better and stay well .

Comment by Jenny Carrick

The traditions were written after Dr.Bob passed away. I Believe that Bill, ever the businessman, just wanted more “dollars in the basket”. I also believe the watering down of the program misleads those, who by the Grace of God, made it into the rooms as a last act of desperation. It also doesn’t help telling them to get a sponsor instead of teaching them to be a sponsor.. And where did 90 in 90 come from? Grooming for a lifelong buck a night commitment?

Comment by Larry

We are taught in AA and in the bible and other religious/spiritual sources to not judge lest “ye be judged.” When I am judging Bill W. or anyone else in our beautiful program I am taking the focus off myself. Understanding that what works for one person in AA might not work for me is all I need to know. What works works! Why debate and cast aspersions on those who think differently about pathways to recovery from alcoholism. By criticizing those of us who have benefited greatly from “90 in 90” or using the 12 &12 in our step work, or any one tool that works for them, we are causing hurt, confusion, and division when in fact we all need each other to live, be sober, help each other, and grow. Bill and Bob taught us that we sink or swim depending how united we continue to be in our love and acceptance of each other.
John D..

Comment by John D.

You are the alcoholic ‘leopard’ to change it’s spots? My sponsor told me once you’d have to have a lobotomy not to judge…we just don’t indict. You ought to expect discourse and judging and opinions on a feed like this…

Comment by gayle

I am in the camp that thinks Dr. Bob was explicitly telling Bill Wilson ‘keep it simple’ before he died, because he knew the mind of his friend and co-founder of AA. Here are some confusing and unhelpful items in Bill Wilson’s book 12 & 12:

Page 23 “Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism…..they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics.”

Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate by age, health, social or material status. Why conflate ‘two cars in the garage’ or material, physical, and social statuses with the three-fold disease of alcoholism? The “scarcely more than potential alcoholics” is like being a ‘little pregnant. There’s a real lack of understanding of the disease of alcoholism demonstrated by Bill Wilson with this statement. Teenagers can be as alcoholic as 50-year-olds; material gains and losses, social and material status’, employment or none are immaterial to the disease of alcoholism.

Page 23 “Why don’t you try some more controlled drinking?” The newcomer has made it to the doors of AA, and this is the advice? Alcoholics don’t need encouragement to go out and drink; they will do it anyway themselves and learn for themselves or they will die. Why would a sober person in AA who believes that he is powerless over alcohol, including all the implications of that powerlessness, tell a newcomer to go out and drink? How about, “it never has to be that way again.”? Or, “keep coming back”? Or, directing the newcomer to “There Is A Solution” in the Alcoholics Anonymous?

And to all the sanctimonious types who will tell me to take my own inventory, or “help a newcomer” rather than writing this. I’m praying for you to get everything I want for two-weeks. I’m doing it in advance of your anticipated snipes.

Comment by Mike K

I was wondering if it’s true that the 12 and 12 was written at the Ramakrishna Monastery in Trabuco Canyon off of Live Oak Rd.?

Comment by Sam Schmitz

No. At Stepping Stones.

Comment by Dave F.

Was there a co-author or editor helping Bill write the 12&12?

Comment by John Guevin

My sponsor told me that Tom Powers from the Chicago area helped Wilson write the 12 12. My sponsor knew Powers well and Wilson some. Powers started a Spiritual community in New England in the 70s, can’t remember the name or exact location now. Tooo long ago. A young couple from our home group went there and lived for a while in the late 70s.
Powers wrote at least 2 books: “First Questions on the Life of the Spirit” reworked into “Invitation to a Great Experiment” plus “The Answer to Addiction” under the name of John Burns”. He also published/edited 24 Magazine.

Comment by Bill Johnson

How miss directed can a person be. First the 12&12 is not further instructions on how one is to work the 12 Steps. It is “…to share 18 years of experience within the Fellowship on how AA members recover, and how our society functions” (pg 14). It is to broaden and deepen the understanding of the 12 Steps as first written in the earlier work” (pg 17). “…a close-up view of the principles and forces which have made Alcoholics Anonymous what it is” (pg 18).
Yes page 28 says you can make your AA group your higher power, until you came to believe in a Higher Power which most call God. And page 109 where Bill W. calls those who hang onto their AA group as their higher power ‘doubters’ and would presently love God and call Him by name. I’m afraid this article has missed the standard of credibility by Bill W. statement on page 49 that one must have a reasonable assumption as a starting point. In addition the challenge can be made that one Tom Powers wrote much of the 12&12 as Bill sat with his head on the desk suffering from depression during the writing process.

Comment by Hayden Hinton

I love the 12&12 and the role-modeling that it demonstrates for not being afraid to evolve and to change when change was called for. I am presently reading “Language of the Heart” – Bill’s writings for the Grapevine – for the second time. When I read about the challenges the early members faced during the first 20 years or so I’m in awe that we have this beautiful yet imperfect program that Bill and the old-timers have left us.
I’ve learned after 40+ years of sobriety in AA that impermanence in all of life is something I have to accept or suffer the consequences. Bill, in his writings, speaks often and honestly of his shortcomings and the need for the fellowship to move on from he and Bob.after Bob’s death.. He encourages we of AA, to not be afraid of change which is why the WSO and the governing structure of AA, from the group on up to the elected Delegates and Board members was created.. He knew that changes were inevitable as membership demographics and needs changed in the future. Both the 12 &12 and the Big Book have offered me great testimonials and suggestions for working the steps and for personal spiritual growth and for that I am eternally grateful.
My code for living my sobriety includes the slogan to”Take What I Like and Leave the Rest.”

Comment by John Daubney

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