Telling Our Stories:  Narratives for Recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous

Telling Our Stories: Narratives for Recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous

(presentation date January 26, 2016)


The efficacy of Twelve Step-based recovery programs as a source of healing and recovery for people with substance use disorders is supported by research. The oldest, largest, and best-known Twelve Step program is Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Storytelling has always been an important part of A.A. Using narrative analysis, Dr. Strobbe examined 24 new personal stories of alcoholism and recovery in the 4th edition of the A.A. “Big Book.” These stories were found to share certain events and stages. Here, Dr. Strobbe proposes a normative, structural model for these accounts that will help clinicians to better understand and appreciate these transformative narratives. Enhanced knowledge about and understanding of the importance of personal narratives in A.A. will assist clinicians by providing a conceptual framework, normalizing certain behaviors in alcoholism and recovery, and helping to “locate” patients in terms of placement and progress.


The goal of this presentation is to review a subset of personal stories for recovery in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) from the qualitative research perspective of narrative analysis.


After completing this program, participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize the importance of personal stories for recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)
  2. List five (5) specific events or stages in the proposed model for personal stories of recovery in A.A.


StephenStrobbe. Stephen Strobbe, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, CARN-AP is Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, and the Department of Psychiatry. He is board-certified both in psychiatric and addictions nursing. Dr. Strobbe received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Eastern Michigan University, his Master of Science in Psychiatric Nursing from the University of Michigan, and his PhD in Nursing, also from the University of Michigan. His doctoral dissertation focused on Alcoholics Anonymous.

His professional background has included clinical care, research, administration, and education. He was the first Clinical Director for the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS), for which he received the Administration and Management Award from the International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA).

Dr. Strobbe has authored approximately 30 peer-reviewed articles and other works related to substance use and addictions nursing. He has been an invited speaker, both nationally and internationally, in Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Strobbe currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Addictions Nursing. He is president-elect of the International Nurses Society on Addictions, and will assume the presidency of that organization in October, 2016.

In 2015, Professor Strobbe received the 25th Annual Golden Apple Award, the only student-nominated and student-selected teaching award at the University of Michigan. He was invited to give his “ideal last lecture,” which was titled, “Lessons from an Imperfect Life: A Premature Last Lecture.”

Number of CE hours offered

1.5 CEH, approved by MCBAP and NAADAC (specific.) A passing grade of 80% on the final exam is required for CE hours to be awarded.