I first came in contact with a 12 step program back in March of 1989. I finally broke thru the 11th step in May of 2018. This is my story of what I found and I'm hoping that it might help you. It's not intended to be an intellectual breakdown of the 12 steps,because I'm not an intellectual. It's written for people by a person. I hope it helps you.
I believe that the falling success rate of most 12 step programs today are due to the muddled message and confusing verbiage used in outlining the 12 steps and in the Big Book in particular. For 12 step organizations that pride themselves in being tolerant and accepting of the opinions of others. And supposedly understanding the importance of the concept of surrender, when it comes to the Big Book and the 12 steps they are anything but. Even with success rates hovering around 10% they refuse to even consider that the problem might very well lie in the steps themselves.
To hold onto a book written by a layman back in the 30's that many regard as a Textbook as the Gospel is both wrong and narrow minded. When the Big Book was written our best mental health specialists were performing lobotomies and giving Belladonna as treatments for Depression and Mental Health issues.
I can't think of one major University that would even consider using a 30 year old textbook to teach young people how dis-empowering belief systems are formed in humans between birth and seven or eight years old, even if the course was free. As a matter of fact they might be accused of malfeasance or incompetence at the very lease if they tried.
Besides the establishment of belief systems we have to take into consideration what we have learned about how the human mind works and how it thinks and why it thinks the way it does. To think that a layman eighty years ago can appreciate the power of the habitual mind and how subliminal messaging would impact it, is ridiculous. The TV wouldn't be invented for another 20 years. They would have had no idea how pervasive and insidious TV would and has become. The poison that it dumps into peoples heads on a daily basis is almost terrifying to consider.
Lastly you have the God thing probably one of the thorniest issues Bob had to grapple with. My approach is a more spiritual approach leaning more to a mix of influences borrowed from the ideas of Hindu, Buddhism and Zen. They all agree that a man made theology does not serve man. That better is an understanding of a neutral universe designed by "God" to grow man, perfect in every way. Man was made in "God's" image with a "Divine" mind that has the free will to believe what it chooses to believe. The problem is that modern man has forgot that he has a choice in what he believes. That he has free will to believe what he wants.If it runs counter to the stream of life which is only empowering thoughts going in one direction, oh well he'll eventually figure it out and get with the flow and if he doesn't it's because he chooses to resist change, probably because of dis-empowering beliefs like "only losers give up" or" it's wrong to surrender" or "never show weakness or vulnerability" the list is endless of the tangential beliefs that can underlie the three biggest dis-empowering beliefs there are. And you know what they are don't you? They would be that your not good enough, smart enough or deserving enough. If a person picks up even a few dis-empowering beliefs, they can have a devastating effect on a persons life, take the belief "challenge authority" or better yet "fear authority" , just this belief can have a negative impact on a persons life over and over again.A person can have just one dis-empowering belief, that's been embedded in the habitual mind as a child, and they see it validated time and again by Mom or Dad say "complaining solves problems faster", the habitual mind makes it apart of a larger belief construct and the belief becomes a character defect. You keep complaining, thinking it works and the Universe, this perfect place to grow people, gives you what you believe, opportunities to complain. Because it's a dis-empowering belief it runs counter to an empowering belief, hence, a lack of power is the persons dilemma. The more dis-empowering beliefs the more lack of power. The more lack of power, the more a person seeks relief, thru behaviors that makes a person feel powerful such as eating,gambling,cheating,drugging and drinking.
So we have Belief systems put in place as children, we think they work until we start taking them out into the world, only to find that they don't. After suffering enough pain, if you are lucky, you start looking for a solution. What makes recovery so hard is that your trying to change beliefs that your Habitual mind is trying to validate 24/7, even while you sleep and you come to find out that your own mind can be a force to contend with. I like to say "it's like trying to change a tire on a car while it's moving. It can be done but it's not easy.