On May 12, 1935 the first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous was held in Henrietta Sieberling’s Akron, Ohio home. From that humble beginning, tens of millions of alcoholics have found a path to sobriety over the past 81 years. Their 12 step program is well known:
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.
What has always impressed me about AA is how true to its founding principles the organization has remained. There has been no commercialization of it, no attempt to turn it into a political movement, no deviation from the unsparing look at oneself that is at the core of its work. They still meet in any locations that will host them with meetings run by alcoholics. Someone who attended an AA meeting back in thirties would find himself quite at home in most AA meetings today. May the work of this organization continue to prosper.