The 12 Steps: A Brief History & Overview

The 12 Steps: A Brief History & Overview

The roots for Alcoholics Anonymous began growing way back in the early 1930s, when a recovering alcoholic named Rowland H. had sought virtually every form of treatment available at the time and come up almost empty-handed. However, he did have the good fortune of visiting world-renowned Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung.

Jung, seeing that Rowland’s case was “medically hopeless,” decided it would be best to direct him to the “Oxford Group,” a non-denominational religious movement popular in both Europe and the U.S. at the time. Oxford Group members followed a particular formula for success at improving themselves. It included things like prayer, meditation, self-inventory and self-accountability. Members were also charged with sharing their hopeful message.

Rowland shared that message, and soon brought several others, including his friend Ebby T., into the group’s embrace. Ebby, in turn, shared the message with an old college friend and drinking buddy, Bill W.

And Bill, because of his profound recovery through applying the Oxford Group’s teachings to his own life, became a man transformed. He had a deep gratitude for the help those principles had given him, and just as deep a desire to allow others to find the same results.

In 1935, he and his wife Lois, together with co-founder Dr. Bob S., designed and founded Alcoholics Anonymous, based on the things they had learned through their membership in the Oxford Group.

Bill and Lois, Dr. Bob, and many others spent the rest of their lives spreading the word and helping people to achieve lasting sobriety. Their full story can be found at

Since AA was founded, it has become well-known worldwide as an incredibly helpful tool for recovery. Meetings are held in just about every town you can think of, and the 12 Steps rehab have become a well-accepted standard in hundreds of offshoot groups, such as Cocaine Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.

Unfortunately, as successful as the 12-Step drug rehab principles can be, it is often very difficult for an addict to remove himself or herself from an environment and lifestyle that encourages alcohol and drug use.

This, in turn, discourages them in their efforts and makes them feel that “not even AA can help me,” which is simply not true. The fact is, it quite often requires more than just regular meeting attendance to gain sobriety in this day and age.

This is why the best avenue for an alcoholic/addict to recover is to enter treatment. Clients at Cold Creek Wellness – in addition to their full schedule of other therapy and sobriety-focused activities – are involved in weekly 12-Step rehab meetings, held both within the residency and at other locations. Treatment teachings and methods expand beyond the 12 Steps to focus on what led the addict to their behaviors in the first place, and how to change their negative thought patterns into positive thoughts and actions. This is one of their greatest tools toward retaining sobriety throughout the rest of their lives.

Because the 12 Steps rehab are such an important part of getting sober and staying sober—and also of avoiding addiction in the first place—here at we will be starting a new series on the Steps, taking it (as they say in the Program,) One Step at a Time. Come back next week for Step One!

And, as always, help is only a phone call away. Cold Creek is available 24 hours a day, at 1(877) 593-6777.

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