Tony A’s 12 Steps

  1. We admitted we were powerless over the effects of living with alcoholism and that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could bring us clarity.
  3. We made a decision to practice self-love and to trust in a Higher Power of our understanding.
  4. We made a searching and blameless inventory of our parents because, in essence, we had become them.
  5. We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our childhood abandonment.
  6. We were entirely ready to begin the healing process with the aid of our Higher Power.
  7. We humbly asked our Higher Power to help us with our healing process.
  8. We became willing to open ourselves to receive the unconditional love of our Higher Power.
  9. We became willing to accept our own unconditional love by understanding that our Higher Power loves us unconditionally.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and to love and approve of ourselves.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power, praying only for knowledge of its will for us and the power to carry it out.
  12. We have had a spiritual awakening as a result of taking these steps, and we continue to love ourselves and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Having worked the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Tony A. placed a high value on the program that helped him become sober, but he had concerns about adopting the steps for use by Adult Children of Alcoholics. 

Tony A’s overarching concern about using the AA steps as written is that Adult Children experienced abandonment and victimization early in life, and therefore live lives based on shame and fear. 

Tony A. explains that:

  • We cannot be restored to a sanity we never experienced (Step 2)
  • Our parents modeled a Higher Power we couldn’t trust (Step 3)
  • We are the victims, not the perpetrators, of the abuse we experienced as children (Steps 4/5)
  • Shame and guilt keep us from loving and accepting ourselves (Steps 6/7)
  • Adult children should not be directed to make amends to dangerous people (Steps 8/9). 

Tony A. explains these principles in his book, The Laundry List: The ACoA Experience, published in 1991. The following recording is from a talk given at the ACoA National Conference the same year. 

Source: “The Laundry List: The ACoA Experience” by Tony A.