Posted by: RealisticRecovery | January 9, 2010

The Original Adult Children of Alcoholics 12 Steps of Recovery by Tony A.

The Original Adult Children of Alcoholics 12 Steps of Recovery by Tony A.

In 1979, with the help of Don D., Tony A. wrote his own variation of the AA 12 Steps, which he believed more fitting for adult children and victims of abuse. These steps encouraged taking a “blameless” inventory of the parents and focusing on self-love. During the next 10 years, Tony refined these steps, publishing another version of the Twelve Steps in his 1991 book: “The Laundry List”. In the end, Tony’s version of the Twelve Steps balanced taking a “blameless” inventory of the parents with a focused program of self-love and self-forgiveness.

The AA Adapted Steps for ACA Purposes

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 it’s 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.

source: the book , “The Laundry List” by Tony A.


  1. Thank you! I did not know about the origins of the Laundry List.

  2. I am so glad Tony A. is not forgotten. I find his steps alot better for my personal recovery. I also feel the current rebuilding of ACA WSO has actually tried to suppress Tony’s steps claiming they are copyrighted. Yet, ACA WSO had no problem using two full paragraphs from Tony’s book. “The ACOA Experience, The Laundry List.”

    Tony A. died on April 8th 2004, I want to start calling that “ACA Day” in honor of Tony. I felt he was very brave and risked change I hate to see the ACA organization change it all back.


    • Hey Sparky,

      Thanks for visiting the site, and taking the time to comment.
      I finally got a copy of Tony A’s book, “The ACoA Experience”, can’t wait to get into it.
      I think he has done a great thing, by starting up ACoA.

      Don’t forget to look around my blog.


  3. I think this makes a little more sense than the current ACA 12 steps. i also really liked your realistic steps, and I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog! Thanks so much, and much progress towards your recovery.

  4. Tony A. truly understood the separation of the disease of alcoholism from the dysfunction it caused in those brought up around it. So many times I’ve watched ACA’s struggle with dual identities when transitioning between other 12-step programs and ACA. Tony A’s 12 steps give a clear roadmap for separating the two while being true to the original version. Thanks for making them available online…

  5. I have just stumbled onto your website, I am just starting my journey of ACA.
    I would like to purchase the “ACoA Experience”, do you know where I can get one, is it still available.
    I have printed the original steps and tonight have been looking at step one.
    I really like his version also.
    Great Webiste.

  6. Hi

    I’ve also tried to get a copy of “The laundry list”. But it seem to be a collectors item now – at least by the price. I’m told there are digital copies of it circulating, but I haven’t been able to get hold of one. It’s such a shame – there are people out there, that are unable to recover by the “ordinary” steps.
    Thank you for keeping up this website.


  7. Is there a date for when the copyright will expire on “The Laundry List”? The ACoA group that has been started here is using the more traditional steps, not the Tony A. steps. I feel Tony’s version is more healing for the adult child, but without access to his book, less knowledge can be shared with the group. The current collector’s price is too expensive.

  8. Hello and greetings from Finland. Thank you very much for posting these original 12 steps by Tony A. When I first began my recovery in the UK in the early 1990s, we used Tony’s version of the steps as ACOA literature from the USA. It was only when ACOA was changed to ACA that the original steps were changed to the AA steps. I think the AA steps are not appropriate for ACOA recovery and are difficult for Adult Children, and that Tony’s original ones are much better suited for recovery from childhood abuse and abandonment. How can 12 steps which were used for recovery from alcoholism be used to help victims of alcoholic and dysfunctional families recover and become whole persons?? It does not work. I find some of the info in the new ACA big book as if it was written through AA, and also the same with the 12 step work book. We in ACOA have the need to be seperate and different from AA, and the way recovery from alcoholism takes place is different from ACOA recovery. There were also Al-anon groups formed called ‘Al-anon focus on Adult Children of Alcoholics’ where Al-anon literature and people from Al-anon were dominating the meetings and which was quite shaming. As far as I know, these groups still exist in the US. For me, ACOA has the right to be autonimous and independent of other 12 step recovery groups and programmes in order to strengthen its singleness of purpose which is to heal from abandonment and in some cases complex trauma, and for that to happen, one needs a safe and non-shaming environment.

    • Thanks for the great feedback and input!

  9. Hi.

    Does anyone have any info on how to work or take Tony A.’s steps?

    Thank you.


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