12-Step-Philosophy-Download (1)

By Steve K.

You can download a copy of my book here for free!  

“This book is more than just another secular interpretation of the Twelve Steps. In this work, Steve offers an intelligent discussion of the underlying philosophy behind the Twelve Steps. He brings his love for history, science, and classical thought to the recovery process, and communicates it all in a smart, down-to-earth style that makes this book a joy to read.”

John S, AA Beyond Belief.

Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings For 12 Step Life. 


By Joe C. 

Finally, a daily reflection book for everyone from Rebellion Dogs Publishing. Beyond Belief is the first secular daily reflection book written in a contemporary language for today’s addicts and alcoholics in recovery. From the Foreword by Dr. Ernie Kurtz (author of Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous & The Spirituality of Imperfection): “The book is aimed at a general 12-Step readership, but it is mindful that there heretofore exist no such aids for unbelievers, freethinkers, and the unconventionally spiritual. Given that the latest Pew Research survey found that twenty percent of the American people list their religious affiliation as ‘None,’ it is certainly time that the Recovery world took into consideration this population’s needs. Beyond Belief addresses that need in a confident, non-aggressive way. I doubt that any believer will find anything objectionable in its pages. This believer, for one, finds much that is spiritually helpful.”

The Alternative 12 Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery. 


By Martha Cleveland & Arlys G.

In The Alternative 12 Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery, Martha Cleveland and Arlys G, show how the 12-Step program can be interpreted and worked by those who simply do not believe in an interventionist deity. At the same time the authors conscientiously maintain the intention and integrity of the program – its values, scope and depth. A chapter is devoted to each Step. The language is clear, engaging and personal.

The Foreword to this Second Edition of the book begins with a striking quote from Chapter Three which captures the essence of both the book and the 12 Steps: “We can learn the universal, generic pattern of life’s dance from the 12 Steps. But in our individual dance of life, we choose our own music and dance our own dance.”

This is a unique, inspiring and helpful book for anyone – regardless of belief or lack of belief – who would like to work the 12 Step program.

NOT-GOD: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. 


By Ernest Kurtz.

The next book I would like to recommend is Ernest Kurtz’s detailed history and examination of AA, ‘NOT-GOD: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous.’  The title has nothing to do with not believing in God, rather it symbolizes the first 3 steps; by acknowledging one’s limitations/lack of control and surrendering one’s will, connection is made with a power greater than oneself.  This book really helped me to understand the underlying philosophy of AA, in particular Bill Wilson’s anti-dogmatic attitude.  Kurtz is considered to be one of the leading authorities of the so called ‘second generation’ of AA intellectual writers which took over from Bill W and others.

Available from Amazon as a paperback and Kindle edition. 

Writing The Big Book: The Creation of AA.  


By William H. Schaberg.

While there are many books about A.A. history, most rely on anecdotal stories told well after the fact by Bill Wilson and other early members―accounts that have proved to be woefully inaccurate at times. Writing the Big Book brings exhaustive research, academic discipline, and informed insight to the subject not seen since Ernest Kurtz’s Not-God, published forty years ago.

Focusing primarily on the eighteen months from October 1937, when a book was first proposed, and April 1939 when Alcoholics Anonymous was published, Schaberg’s history is based on eleven years of research into the wealth of 1930s documents currently preserved in several A.A. archives. Woven together into an exciting narrative, these real-time documents tell an almost week-by-week story of how the book was created, providing more than a few unexpected turns and surprising departures from the hallowed stories that have been so widely circulated about early A.A. history.

Fast-paced, engaging, and contrary, Writing the Big Book presents a vivid picture of how early A.A. operated and grew and reveals many previously unreported details about the colorful cast of characters who were responsible for making that group so successful.

My Name Is Bill: Bill Wilson – His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.


By Susan Cheever.

In this definitive and groundbreaking biography, acclaimed author Susan Cheever offers a remarkably human portrait of a man whose life and work both influenced and saved the lives of millions of people. Drawing from personal letters, diaries, AA archives, interviews – and Cheever’s own experiences with alcoholism – My Name Is Bill is the first fully documented, deeply felt account of Bill Wilson and Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Spirituality of Imperfection. 


By Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham.

To help to understand the spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous, I would also like to recommend another of Kurtz’sclassic writings in collaboration with Katherine Ketcham,  entitled;  ‘The Spirituality of Imperfection.’  I found this book a meditative experience and profound.

Waiting – A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power. 


By Marya Hornbacher. 

A book for those who feel disconnected from the ideas of God presented in organised religion, or are simply struggling to determine their own spiritual path, bestselling author Marya Hornbacher offers a down-to-earth exploration of the concept of faith.  In the book Hornbacher uses her own recovery journey from alcoholism, to offer a fresh approach to cultivating a spiritual life.

Sobering Wisdom: Philosophical Explorations of Twelve Step Spirituality.


By Jerome A. Miller (Editor), Nicholas Plants (Editor).

Originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelve Step program now provides life direction for the millions of people worldwide who are recovering from addiction and undergoing profound personal transformation. Yet thus far it has received surprisingly little attention from philosophers, despite the fact that, like philosophy, the program addresses all-important questions regarding how we ought to live. In Sobering Wisdom, Jerome A. Miller and Nicholas Plants offer a unique approach to the Twelve Step program by exploring its spirituality from a philosophical point of view.

 Shame & Guilt.  

shame and guilt

By Ernest Kurtz.

Shame & Guilt explores the differences between these two painful but inevitable experiences. Both guilt and shame involve feeling “bad”-feeling bad about one’s actions (or omissions) in the case of guilt; feeling bad about one’s self in shame. The deep meaning of the word bad is “unable to fit”: unable to fit into some external context in the case of guilt, unable to fit into one’s own being in the case of shame.

If You Work it, it Works!: The Science Behind 12 Step Recovery.

By Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D.

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts.  

By Dr Gabor Mate. 

A timely and original book that explores the fundamental nature of human addiction and the current epidemic of different types of addictions with society. Starting with a dramatically close view of Mate’s drug addicted patients, he skilfully weaves in stories of real people while providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and up-to-date findings. This became a bestselling book upon publication in Canada and comes highly recommended by casual readers, experts and reviewers alike.

The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease. 

By Marc Lewis PhD.

Through the vivid, true stories of five people who journeyed into and out of addiction, a renowned neuroscientist explains why the “disease model” of addiction is wrong and illuminates the path to recovery.
The psychiatric establishment and rehab industry in the Western world have branded addiction a brain disease, based on evidence that brains change with drug use. But in The Biology of Desire, cognitive neuroscientist and former addict Marc Lewis makes a convincing case that addiction is not a disease, and shows why the disease model has become an obstacle to healing.

Unbroken Brain.

By Maia Szalavitz.

Challenging both the idea of the addict’s “broken brain” and the notion of a simple “addictive personality,” Unbroken Brain offers a radical and groundbreaking new perspective, arguing that addictions are learning disorders and shows how seeing the condition this way can untangle our current debates over treatment, prevention and policy. Like autistic traits, addictive behaviors fall on a spectrum — and they can be a normal response to an extreme situation. By illustrating what addiction is, and is not, the book illustrates how timing, history, family, peers, culture and chemicals come together to create both illness and recovery- and why there is no “addictive personality” or single treatment that works for all.

Combining Maia Szalavitz’s personal story with a distillation of more than 25 years of science and research, Unbroken Brain provides a paradigm-shifting approach to thinking about addiction.

Recovery Rising.  

By William L White.

Recovery Rising is the professional memoir of William White, who, over the span of five decades, evolved through several diverse roles to emerge as the addiction field’s preeminent historian and one of its most visionary voices and prolific writers. Recovery Rising contains the stories, reflections, and lessons learned within one man’s personal and professional journey. Recounted here are many of the ideas, methods, people, and organizations that shaped the modern history of addiction treatment and recovery. These engaging stories are at times poignant and at times humorous, but always revealing, informative, and inspiring. William White’s peers will find their life’s work affirmed in these pages and a younger generation of addiction professionals and recovery advocates will feel the passing of a torch.

This book contains thirty stories – an equal number by women and men – by atheists and agnostics who tell us “what it was like, what happened and what it’s like now” as they made their way to a life of long-term sobriety within the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Storytelling is the essence of AA. It is in sharing our “experience, strength and hope” in recovery that we are able to help others within our Fellowship. The diversity and richness of the stories contained in Do Tell! will no doubt be an inspiration and provide important support to nonbelievers within the often overly-religious fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Facing Love Addiction.  

By Pia Mellody.

In this revised and updated version of Facing Love Addiction, bestselling author of Facing Codependence and internationally recognized dependence and addiction authority Pia Mellody unravels the intricate dynamics of unhealthy love relationships and shows us how to let go of toxic love. Through twelve-step work, exercises, and journal-keeping, Facing Love Addiction compassionately and realistically outlines the recovery process for Love Addicts, and Mellody’s fresh perspective and clear methods work to comfort and motivate all those looking to establish and maintain healthy, happy relationships. 

The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps.


By Roger C.

“A celebration of the varieties of recovery experience.” From the foreword by William L. White, author, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America.

“There are many versions of the 12-Step program of recovery. In fact, there are about as many versions as there are alcoholics in AA who use the program to get sober and to maintain their sobriety.” Thus begins The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps.

Healing The Wounds Of Childhood.


By Don St John, Ph.D.

This is a ground-breaking book. Throughout his infancy and childhood, the author suffered severe physical and emotional abuse. He shares his personal journey and the disciplines, treatments and practices that enabled him to overcome the effects of severe maltreatment.

Healing the Wounds of Childhood tells the reader where to look if she wants to grow into her full potential for good health and beautiful intimate relationships. Most self-help books focus on one area such as the brain, or communication skills. Healing the Wounds of Childhood provides the big picture.

This alone would make this a unique book. However, the book is sprinkled with autobiographical material, lending a very human story to this holistic presentation.

The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening.   


By Steve Taylor, Ph.D.

Many assume that enlightenment is the result of arduous effort and self-denial such as fasting, travel to far-flung places, and encounters with teachers thought to be enlightened themselves. But here, Steve Taylor shows that ordinary people from all walks of life and every age and place can and do regularly experience the kind of life-changing moments many of us seek. Taylor seeks out the common features of these diverse experiences. His resulting cross-cultural investigation of spirituality, belief, and human psychology shows how spiritual awakening is a shift into a more expansive and harmonious state of being and can be both recognized and cultivated. How is it triggered and experienced? How do people feel in the midst? How are their relationships and goals affected? Because the experiences Taylor describes are at once unique to those who experience them and obviously available to one and all, this is a rare work that both describes and inspires.

Out of the Darkness: From Turmoil to Transformation.


By Steve Taylor, Ph.D.

In Out of the Darkness, bestselling author Steve Taylor tells the stories of more than 30 people who have undergone permanent spiritual awakening after intense trauma and turmoil in their lives.

Read about the young woman who was reborn after suffering terrible injuries in the 7/7 bombings in London, the man who found enlightenment after becoming paralysed in a fall, the man who underwent transformation after attempting suicide, and the recovering alcoholic who shifted to a permanent state of enlightenment after hitting ‘rock bottom’ and losing everything.

Steve has also interviewed several spiritual teachers whose awakening occurred after intense psychological turmoil, including Eckhart Tolle. In addition to telling these people’s stories, Out of the Darkness explains why turmoil has this transformational effect and illustrates the almost infinite capacity of human beings to overcome suffering. It shows how close – and how natural – spiritual awakening is to all of us.

Recovering Spirituality.

By Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.

Guides those in recovery in developing the awareness and skills to deal with life’s issues by practicing authentic spirituality and emotional sobriety.

Spirituality is a critical aspect of the Twelve Steps and other recovery programs. Yet, for those of us disposed to addiction, it can be easy to get so caught up in the idea of our Higher Power and the abundant joys of a spiritual life that we experience “spiritual bypass”–the use of spirituality to avoid dealing with ourselves, our emotions, and our unfinished business. In Recovering Spirituality, researcher and clinical psychologist Ingrid Mathieu uses personal stories and practical advice to teach us how to grow up emotionally and take responsibility for ourselves. Without turning away from the true benefits of an active spiritual program, she shows us how to work through life’s challenges and periods of pain while evolving and maintaining an authentic relationship with our Higher Power.

12 Smart Things.


By Allen Berger, Ph.D.

Allen Berger, PhD, draws on the teachings of Bill W. and psychotherapy pioneers to offer twelve hallmarks of emotional sobriety that, when practiced, give people the confidence to be accountable for their behavior, ask for what they want and need, and grow and develop a deeper trust in the process of life. These smart things include: understanding who you are and what’s important to you; learning not to take others’ reactions personally; trusting your inner compass; and taking responsibility for your reactions to problematic situations.

It is in these practices that we find release from what Bill W. described as an “absolute dependency” on people or circumstances, and develop the tools to find prestige, security, and belonging within.

The Tao of Sobriety.

By David Gregson & Jay S. Efran, Ph.D.

The Tao of Sobriety shows how to apply eastern philosophy to enhance recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. With a few simple mental exercises, readers can learn how to quiet “The Committee,” those nasty mental voices that undermine serenity and self-esteem. With leaders of the recovery movement enthusiastically endorsing this uniquely helpful book, The Tao of Sobriety is an invaluable addition to the recovery bookshelf.

Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life.


By John Kaag, Ph.D.

In 1895, William James, the father of American philosophy, delivered a lecture entitled “Is Life Worth Living?” It was no theoretical question for James, who had contemplated suicide during an existential crisis as a young man a quarter century earlier. Indeed, as John Kaag writes, “James’s entire philosophy, from beginning to end, was geared to save a life, his life”―and that’s why it just might be able to save yours, too. Sick Souls, Healthy Minds is an absorbing introduction to James’s life and thought that shows why the founder of pragmatism and empirical psychology can still speak so directly and profoundly to anyone struggling to make a life worth living.

12 Essential Insights for Emotional Sobriety.


By Allen Berger, Ph.D.

In 12 Essential Insights for Emotional Sobriety, psychotherapist Dr. Allen Berger writes simply to explain and expand on this concept, combining wisdom from 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous with long-accepted psychological principles. Through heart-rending stories of profound change, careful explanation, and thoughtful exercises, Dr. Berger guides you to a calmer place—and a better life.

We’re Not All Egomaniacs: Adapting the Twelve Steps for Alcoholics with Low Self-Esteem.


 By Beth Aich.

Some people come to Alcoholics Anonymous feeling terrible about themselves and are told, bewilderingly, that their problem is too much ego and a lack of humility. Bill W., who wrote most of the AA literature, described himself as an egomaniac. He put his own needs and wants ahead of others, was grandiose, felt entitled, and thought he was all-powerful. He called this the alcoholic personality type, and designed a program to crush the ego as the foundation of sobriety. It worked for him and millions of other alcoholics like him, and he deserves great credit.

But what about alcoholics who normally put others’ needs before their own and see themselves as less-than, unentitled, not enough, defective, impostors, losers? Their egos need building, not deflating. This book reframes the Twelve Step program so people with low self-esteem can grow to feel better rather than worse about themselves. Each Step includes exercises to build and strengthen the person’s sense of self, to grow from a place of feeling unlovable into a strong sober person, no longer dependent on alcohol or external validation to feel good.
This groundbreaking book opens the door for people who feel less-than to find a comfortable sobriety in AA, rather than trying to force themselves into Bill’s shoes when they just don’t fit.

Higher and Friendly Powers – Transforming Addiction and Suffering.


By Peg O’Connor.

An expansive alternative for those who have struggled with the “higher power” of AA’s 12-step program, Higher and Friendly Powers offers a sense of human decency, moral ideals, and even a better version of oneself. In Higher and Friendly Powers, Peg O’Connor addresses an audience much like herself: those in recovery who have struggled with the Christian-centric God at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous. She brings our attention to a little-known fact: the term “higher power,” a touchstone in the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, was coined by William James, philosopher, psychologist, and intellectual giant of the early 20th century. By acting as our personal field guide through the world of William James, Peg shows that “higher power” as James conceived it is far more expansive than we might imagine. The book, which combines Peg’s deep personal wisdom with James’s adventurous intellect, has the power to transform the way we live.



Alcoholics Anonymous. (Great Britain)  National Telephone Freephone Number:  0800 9177 650

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Beyond Belief Sobriety

A podcast for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, and secularly-minded people in recovery. Discusses the various pathways to recovery in an open-minded and inclusive way.


AA Agnostica. 

This website is aimed at AA members who consider themselves to be agnostic, atheists, freethinkers, humanists or just spiritual but not religious.  


Rebellion Dogs Publishing

This is a recovery website run by Joe C, who’s been clean and sober since 1976.  He’s super bright and also produces podcasts about recovery issues on Rebellion Dogs Radio.  He’s agnostic, really knowledgeable and advocates for a liberal approach to recovery.   


 Recovery Today Magazine

Recovery Today provides hope for those that are battling addiction for themselves or someone they love who needs recovery. It must provide HOPE to this group as well as the message “there is no shame”. Recovery Today provides hope for those who are sober and have begun to turn their lives around.  They must now begin to be comfortable with themselves or others as a sober person.


William White Papers

This website contains the full text of more than 300 articles, 8 monographs, 30+ recovery tools, 9 book chapters, 3 books, and links to an additional 18 books written by William White and co-authors over the past four decades as well as more than 100 interviews with addiction treatment and recovery leaders. This is a single location where such material may be located by those interested in the history of addiction treatment and recovery in the United States.


SMART Recovery (UK) website. Secular mutual support meetings based upon CBT principles that emphasize self-empowerment in recovery. SMART groups are led by trained facilitators and help with most addictions. Group members are free to attend 12 Step meetings as well as SMART.


Hepatitis C Trust. 

Website providing the latest information about the disease and its treatment.  The national UK charity also operates a confidential helpline which provides information and support to callers and is staffed by volunteers, who either have the virus or have cleared it due to treatment.

Helpline Open:  Monday – Friday (10.30am – 4.30pm).  Tel,  0845 223 4424  or  020 7089 6221