Whenever a civilization or society declines or perishes there is always one condition present - they forgot where they came from. -- Carl Sandburg

Alcoholics Anonymous,  born in 1935, is the non-organization that has provided the template for every 12-step recovery program that has followed.

But there is something different about A.A. meetings now than they were originally ... They have gone soft ...


They have forgotten the Basics of Recovery in large measure. (see Gresham's Law & Alcoholics Anonymous - Why Alcoholics Anonymous is not as effective now as it was in prior years.)

A radical return to A.A.'s founding spirit and methods is beginning with Back to Basics meetings across the nation, and internationally, with strict adherence to the A.A. principles engendered in the steps and traditions.

A.A., it may be observed, has drifted away from its original purpose by allowing alcoholics to take too long to complete the 12 steps, to shy away from spirituality as they try to recover, and to devise their own methods of staying sober. In short, A.A. has gotten wimpy.

In Back to Basics meetings, attendees are expected to go through all 12 steps in four one-hour sessions, and they are expected to stick to them.


In the meetings there is little talk about the problem and the individual's drinking career. The talk is about God, Spirituality and The Steps.


The Steps are begun immediately with none of the one step a year procrastination, with none of the psychobabble inherited from some of the treatment centres.

In most current A.A. meetings, the primary A.A. format is open discussion, where people talk about anything, the "My Dog Died, My Car Wouldn't Start, But I Didn't Drink Over It" meetings.

That's about all they talk about. No God. No Steps, and as a result the recovery rates have plummeted from the 75% recovery in early A.A.  (which have been documented many times), (See Philadelphia Statistics 1941 for example), down to a 5 to 10% permanent recovery rate today.

In the forward to the 1955 second edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is an estimate that of alcoholics who came and really tried,

  • 50 percent got permanently sober,

  • 25 percent got permanently sober with some relapses,

  • 25 percent showed improvement.

The A.A. Twelve Step Program can be divided into three parts.

  • Steps 1-3 are "Trust God," 

  • Steps 4-10 are "Clean House," 

  • Steps 11-12 are "Help Others." 

It takes action and continued work in all three parts for a person to get sober and stay sober.

With the return to Back to Basics and the original A.A. program as practiced in the 1940s identical results as noted in the Big Book, are being seen today in these meetings, with three out of four members achieving permanent sobriety.

Back to Basics members say the program works for them because it gives them practical ways to stay sober and fewer excuses for failing.