In April 1939, a man by the name of Bill W., in association with a number of other people, officially published to the world, the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The fact that these people were even alive, much less sober and able to publish a book (Alcoholics Anonymous) was one of the greatest miracles of modern times. The medical world was amazed, left without an explanation for their unprecedented restoration to normal, sane living, totally relieved of the need to drink. What had they done? What answer had they found? It was simply this: They had found God.
Believing they could do the impossible if it were God’s will, they set about to form a fellowship based on spiritual principles. Principles so universal and true that they could be applied by anyone who had even the smallest amount of willingness to believe in a benevolent God, leaving each free to define God as they best understood Him.
Little did anyone realize that in that humble effort by a bunch of previously hopeless, derelict drunks was the beginning of the single most powerful program for overcoming self-destructive behaviors that has ever been introduced to the world. No efforts by medical science or modern psychology has ever duplicated their success.
Latter-day Saints should not be surprised at the success of these Twelve Steps. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that with correct principles people can learn to govern themselves. It should also be no surprise that principles so profoundly effective as the Twelve Steps would be in complete harmony with the scriptures and with the Gospel.
In the years since their introduction, these principles applied in this order, have been found to overcome any form of addiction, behavioral as well as chemical. It is in the overcoming of behavioral addiction that Latter-day Saints are finding Joseph’s words fulfilled in these Steps.