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12-Steps For 15 Maladies

pexels-photo-59196In the original 1938 Alcoholics Anonymous book*, 15 emotional/spiritual symptoms (referred to as maladies) of addiction are listed:

  1. being restless, irritable, and discontented
  2. having trouble with personal relationships
  3. not being able to control our emotional natures
  4. being prey to (or suffering from) misery and depression
  5. not being able to make a living (or a happy and successful life)
  6. having feelings of uselessness
  7. being full of fear
  8. unhappiness
  9. inability to be of real help to other people
  10. being like “the actor who wants to run the whole show”
  11. being “driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity”
  12. self-will run riot
  13. leading a double life
  14. living like a tornado running through the lives of others
  15. exhibiting selfish and inconsiderate habits

These maladies are all rooted in self-centeredness, according to Alcoholics Anonymous. Today, the focus might seem slightly politically incorrect, but those who have worked the program and know that the 12-Steps saved them from self-destruction, believe that the admission of selfishness and a distorted view of self is a necessary key to recovery. Being honest and truthful about this is the beginning of recovery.

But everyone can use this checklist and gain insight into themselves.


The expression “dry drunk” refers to those who don’t touch a drop yet continue to exhibit pretty much the same behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, as they did when they were using. In addition, people can have these spiritual maladies whether or not they are or have ever used substances or engaged in addictive behaviors.

The 12-Step system offers insights for everyone who is willing to evaluate themselves and who wants to improve.


12-Steps For 15 Maladies

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2016). 12-Steps For 15 Maladies. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Dec 2016
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