The Step Minus One of the founder of a 12 Step Program

The founder of one 12 Step Fellowship gained sobriety in AA before founding a new program. He wrote dismissively of the role of medicine and therapy in his recovery:

Medicine, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis didn’t work.  Alcoholics Anonymous did!

However, such treatment may have played a significant role in preparing him for what AA and the Steps had to offer. This is certainly what Dr Silkworth suggests in the Doctor’s Opinion.   

He had spinal fusion surgery, ongoing chronic back pain, nearsightedness and took medication daily for low thyroid. Untreated chronic back pain and thyroid problems can both lead to fatigue, mood disorders, aggressive behaviour, and cognitive impairment, which are all addiction triggers. Managing multiple health conditions including addiction creates its own stress, which can trigger the addiction.

He wrote and spoke of childhood trauma: the death of his father when he was age 5 and subsequent traumatic experiences with his brother, being different as an immigrant family in a foreign culture. Further, his parents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. He spoke of his parents’ participation in the Armenian death march in the Syrian Desert.


Epigenetic changes occurring from the emotional, physical and nutritional  trauma of the death march could have contributed to his predisposition towards addictionNutrition, supplementation, therapy, spiritual practices, as well as the 12 steps, can all contribute to reversing epigenetic influences on addiction.

The 12 steps and fellowship may have been the final tools that, when added to medical treatment and therapy, enabled sustainable sobriety for him. This is consistent with the AA concept of threefold recovery and early AA history.  Many 12 Step Fellowships may not exist had their founders not had access to good medical and psychological treatment.


NEXT – The myth of 50-75% success rate in early AA