The 12 Steps

The 12 steps are the cornerstone to recovery. If you are an addict or alcoholic looking for a permanent solution to your ultimate problem –yourself –you will find it by working a 12-step program.

In the early days of sobriety, many chemically dependent people mistakenly believe their life’s only dilemma is a highly destructive addiction to a particular mind-altering substance. The reality is; there are a number of deeply-seated issues that plague every addict or alcoholic, many of them buried under a significant layer of denial.

The 12-steps facilitate the uncovering of almost any kind of debilitating problem and allow for the resolution of that problem. The beauty of the 12 steps is that they address every aspect of addiction and alcoholism –including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual duress.

Few things you can expect from working the 12 steps:

  • Coming face to face with your addiction and recognizing you are powerless over your own compulsion to use mind-altering substances in spite of their consequences.
  • Recognizing that a Power greater than you can help you find sanity, serenity and safety again.
  • Making amends and repairing relationships with the people you hurt during your addiction or alcoholism.
  • Searching yourself to find out who you are, what you believe about life and establishing realistic goals for your future.
  • Learning how to take life one day at a time, without the use of drugs or alcohol.

The concept of 12-step recovery is not exclusive to addicted people. Because the 12 steps have proven to be almost magically effective in freeing people from chronically disruptive life situations, more than 200 types of 12-step groups exist all around the world. These include programs for overeaters, sex addicts, gamblers, codependents and workaholics.

The 12 steps are as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over (particular problem)—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Some addicts and alcoholics are apprehensive about the 12 steps because they fear what appear to be religious overtones weaved throughout the process. The fact is; 12-step fellowships offer a spiritual –not religious –program. The beauty of the 12 steps is they allow you to develop your own spiritual understanding of a Higher Power, even if that means choosing your 12-step group.

The 12 steps should be worked with a sponsor –someone who has already worked all 12 steps and has at least one year of sobriety. Many 12-step fellowships offer workbooks or step working guides that give participants comprehensive instructions about how to properly and thoroughly approach this process.

If you are new to recovery, please seek the guidance of a sponsor and begin the 12-step process. You will gain a better understanding of your situation, have a greater knowledge of yourself and learn to live and enjoy life without the use of drugs. Only by doing the necessary work will you find freedom from the bondage of addiction, and that work begins with the 12 steps.