Is “12 Steps” Religion?

Recovery has its roots in the “12 Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). While AA was influenced by religious concepts at its founding, people who practice the 12 Steps generally insist that the practice is not itself a religion but rather a method for the individual to establish a sane and sober lifestyle.

The 12 Steps are considered by its practitioners to be a spiritual program of recovery. For many outside the movement, the key phrase that causes concern is “God as we understand Him” found in the 12 Steps. Originally written in 1935, the 12 Step emphasis on humility (a power greater than ourselves) contradicts many of the stated and unstated values of a modern consumer society. So, it is no surprise that the 12 Steps generate both confusion and resistance.

Beyond the debate, however, people in recovery bring their own unique stories including any religious training or profession of faith. Furthermore, when a person’s thinking consciously applies 12 Step principles, then it is understandable that all aspects of their lifestyle will be influenced, including their chosen spiritual or religious practice. Thus, it is fair to say that 12 Steps may not be an organized religion, but as a method it influences one’s religious or spiritual practice.

Keep reading about this topic with this article from Alcoholics Anonymous:
We Tread Innumerable Paths: Spirituality in AA (PDF) >>

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