The Akron Guide to the 12 Steps: Introduction and Step 1

THE AKRON GUIDE TO THE TWELVE STEPS A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous



A GUIDE to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is intended as a simple, short and concise interpretation of the rules for sober living as compiled by the earliest members of the organization. Great care has gone into the preparation of the pamphlet. Most of the ideas and explanations were brought out in a series of instruction classes conducted by veteran members of AA.

The Twelve Steps are the logical process by which an alcoholic finds and maintains sobriety and becomes rehabilitated. It has been the history of AA that any alcoholic who has followed this program without deviation has remained sober. Those who have tried to cut corners, skip over steps, have eventually found themselves in trouble. This has been the rule rather than the exception.

Upon being asked which is the most important of the Twelve Steps, one of the early members once replied with another question: “Which is the most important spoke of a wheel?” If a wheel has twelve spokes and one is removed, the wheel will probably continue to support the vehicle, but it will have lost strength. Removal of another spoke weakens it even more, and eventually the wheel will collapse. So it is with AA. Removal of any of the Steps will eventually result in a collapse.

It is important that the newcomer be introduced to the Twelve Steps at as early a date as possible. On these rules depend his full recovery. If you feel that the Steps are a bit too complicated at first, you can introduce them to your “baby” in a simplified form, going into the complete program later.

The condensed form:

1. We honestly admitted we were powerless over alcohol and sincerely wanted to do something about it. In other word we admitted we were whipped and had a genuine desire to quit for good.

2. We asked and received help from a power greater than ourselves and another human. (Note: In almost all cases that power is called God. It is, however, God as we understand Him. For purposes of simplification, the word God is used in this pamphlet, meaning whatever higher power you choose to accept. In the case of the agnostic, the atheist or any unbeliever it is only necessary that he recognize some power in the universe greater than he is. He can call it God, Allah, Jehovah, the Sun, a Cosmic Force, or whatever he chooses. He is almost certain to admit that we live in an orderly world, a world where night invariably follows day, where spring follows winter, where corn ripens at a certain season, where the young are born on an invariable schedule, where the planets and other heavenly bodies maintain an orderly course. So it is only logical that there is some greater power behind this orderliness. Such an admission is all that is necessary.)

3. We cleaned up our lives, paid our debts, righted wrongs.

4. We carried our new way of life to others desperately in need of it.

The Twelve Steps follow a logical sequence, one that has been used almost universally by successful members of AA. They were carefully thought out by the founders of the organization and are as true and as necessary to successful recovery from alcoholism today as they were when they were written.


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


WITHOUT the first step there is no chance of recovery., It has been demonstrated over and over again that a person becomes sober and stays sober only when he is doing so for himself and himself alone. He may become sober temporarily for the sake of some person, fear of some sort, because of his job, but unless he is sincerely, genuinely determined to sober up for himself, his days of sobriety are numbered.

It is a difficult step to take. It is a step in which no assistance from an outside source is possible. the prospect must make it alone. It is not easy to admit defeat. For years we have said: “I can stop drinking any time I want to.” For years we have believed that sobriety was “just around the corner.” Tragically enough, we never rounded that corner; and we suddenly discovered, much to our dismay, that we could not quit. We were like rabid baseball fans who still hope for a miracle when the home team goes into the final inning trailing by half a dozen runs.

So we finally came to the fork in the road. We either honestly admitted that we had a problem or we continued sinking deeper and deeper into the bog of alcoholism, resulting in loss of mind or death. Until the admission is made, to ourselves, that our alcoholic problem has gone our to control we have on inspiration to stop drinking. But once that admission has been made the was is cleared. It is at this point that Alcoholics Anonymous can step in and lend a helping hand in the remainder of the program. The remaining steps are automatically made easier.

The symptoms of alcoholism are clearly defined.

There are scores of them, but among the major ones are:

The inability to stop drinking after taking one drink.

The necessity for a drink in the morning to “straighten up,” that morning drink developing into another drunk.

Getting drunk at the wrong time. That is, getting drunk when every instinct tells us that the occasion is one calling for sobriety.

Inability to sleep without the use of alcohol.

Loss of memory during a drunk and the deadening of memory even when sober.

The prospect will doubtless recognize many symptoms as his own when he listens to the stories of members of the group. When he recognizes them, it is imperative to impress on him that even if he isn’t an out and out alcoholic he is studying hard to be one, and the time when he will be in serious trouble is not too far away.

There is no known cure for alcoholism. Once a person becomes an alcoholic (he won’t recognize it when he crosses the border line) he is an alcoholic for life. He may go years and years without touching intoxicants, yet when he does, he will be back in the same old squirrel cage again. Strangely enough, case histories prove that he will be worse than he was before.

So it is not only important that we admit that we are powerless over alcohol, but that we continue bear in mind at all times that we are alcoholics. Only complete sobriety can make us and keep us normal.

If, as a newcomer, you can honestly say to your AA friend, “I have an alcoholic problem; I am certain that I am an alcoholic; I want to do something about it,” half of the battle is won. You are then open to teaching. Your mind is prepared to receive instructions in the AA way of life.


The Akron Guide to the Twelve Steps

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