12-Step Program

A 12-Step Program is a set of rules that are put into place in helping set up a plan for individuals with behavioral, addiction and compulsion problems.

Alcoholics Anonymous (Known as AA) proposed the 12-Step program as a method of recovery from alcoholism and were originally published in a book called Alcoholics Anonymous: The story Of How More than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism in the year 1939. This method was then used and turned into what is known as a 12-Step program today.
Below are the steps in a traditional 12-Step program. Each step will be covered for a better understanding how they coincide with addiction treatment.

  1. Admitting that individual is powerless over alcohol and that life has become unstable and not manageable.
  2. Believing that there is a greater power that’ll help restore sanity
  3. The decision to turn over our lives and will to the care of that higher power has been made
  4. An inventory of self has been made fearlessly and searchingly
  5. Admitted to ourselves, other human beings and to our Higher Power the exact wrong doings of our nature
  6. We are fully prepared to have our Higher Power remove all defects of our character
  7. We humbly ask our Higher Power to remove all of our shortcomings
  8. A list is made of all individuals that we have harmed, and become willing to make amends with them all
  9. Direct amends is made to those individuals wherever at all possible, except when in order to do so would injure them or others
  10. Continuing to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it
  11. Through prayer and meditation, sought to improve our contact with our Higher Power, praying for knowledge of the will for us and the power to carry that out
  12. We have practiced these principles and have carried out the same message to alcoholics in all affairs, typically leading to a spiritual awakening as a result

What are the 12 Steps?

 Step 1: Admitting that individual is powerless over alcohol and that life has become unstable and not manageable

The first step comes to be the biggest one of them all because it breaks an individual’s denial of the addiction and starts them off on the journey of recovery. In order to accept the addiction and to take this very crucial life changing step, one must acknowledge their need for help and make it clear that pursuing a solution is top priority.

An addict who realizes, internalizes and digests the first step is protected against that addiction because after admitting and fully committing to treatment, individual has flashback on how unstable life was prior.

 Step 2: Believing that there is a greater power that’ll help restore sanity

Step two is focused on hope- the hope for an individual that they one day can live a content and happy life without the obsession of drugs and alcohol. For this step to be put into prospective, the individual is suggested to find a caring, loving, greater being than ourselves.

After admitting to the problem, the individual needs to find a Higher Power that’ll help their healing process and provide them a comfort along this journey of recovery.

Step 3: The decision to turn over our lives and will to the care of that higher power has been made

Step three consists of giving our problems over to out Higher Power. In this step, we decide that we will do in our lives what we can to our ability and to leave the results to our higher power.

An addict has to be willing to give their problems over to a higher power. In order to do this, individual has to use the best of their abilities to keep on the road to recovery.

Step 4: An inventory of self has been made fearlessly and searchingly

Step four means to take a deep look inside of ourselves and address feelings or issues we have been keeping compressed. Taking inventory of those feelings either good or bad can help us paint an image of what creates the addiction.

Addict needs to take note of things they have done wrong to themselves and that cause self-pity in order to move forth and identify with causes of addiction.

Step 5: Admitted to ourselves, other human beings and to our Higher Power the exact wrong doings of our nature

This step allows the participant to admit all of their nagging issues or wrong doings to someone who will listen to and care about their feelings. This may help the individual come to terms with their past and help repair broken bonds and the nature of their faults.

Allowing yourself to admit to your faults and opening up to another individual can be therapeutic and very beneficial to the addiction recovery process.

Step 6: We are fully prepared to have our Higher Power remove all defects of our character

Step six allows our Higher Power to control how our lives work. For instance, if we begin to accept that our lives are not perfect and confide in our selected higher power for direction, we then allow our unresolved issues to come to surface and not allow said higher power to find a solution for those issues.

Addicts usually put it in the simple terms of “leave all of my problems in someone else’s hands”. This is simply stating that our unresolved issues we are leaving to our higher power to fix while we focus on recovery.

Step 7: We humbly ask our Higher Power to remove all of our shortcomings

After identifying our character defects or flaws in the fourth step and becoming prepared to submit our issues to our higher power, we finally come to this step that consists of asking our higher power to remove our personal issues. This can be considered a plea in helping us become a better person. Humility is the essential key in step seven.

With humility, we ask our higher power to rid us of our flaws and character defects. Sometimes, we ask our higher power to erase the problems that cause us to use.

Step 8: A list is made of all individuals that we have harmed, and become willing to make amends with them all

In step 8, participants are to make a list of those individuals they have hurt in the past. The idea behind this is to eventually find these individuals and make peace with them. There may be people on those lists that we cannot bare to talk to or we feel do not deserve an apology but the job of the sponsor is to go down the list with the participant and go over how each individual should be handled. As addicts, they are not fit to make that decision on their own.

It is important to make amends with those you have hurt. Doing so will help lift weight of unfinished business or unnecessary stress of your issues.

Step 9: Direct amends is made to those individuals wherever at all possible, except when in order to do so would injure them or others

Step nine consists of the individual clearing up the wreckage of their past. In this step, they will sit with the people they have caused harm to and try to make amends with them. Often times, this will involve action over words. This step allows addict to come to realization with the changes they must be willing to make in order for those newly bonded relationships to remain strong.

Most of us spent our lives during active addiction merely apologizing to others for our actions- only to keep on doing the exact same hurtful things, over and over again. Making amends in life is important to any major stepping stone, especially those in addiction recovery.

Step 10: Continuing to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

Step 10 is usually looked at as a self check step. This way, when the individual becomes resentful, depressed, and angry or has any negative feelings, it is a reminder of what must be done to continuously work on ourselves. This step helps the person on this path to recovery keep up a method of staying self-aware.

Sponsors will become beneficial to this step. Daily, participates should review their day each night before they go to sleep.

Step 11: Through prayer and meditation, sought to improve our contact with our Higher Power, praying for knowledge of the will for us and the power to carry that out

The point of step eleven is for individuals to grow in their spirituality and to reach out farther into their lives. Learning opportunities were put into place daily. In this step, participants can explore various philosophies or religions to focus their prayers on and connect with like-minded people around them.

“If we have a set of beliefs as a guiding light, we can without a doubt overcome all”

 Step 12: We have practiced these principles and have carried out the same message to alcoholics in all affairs, typically leading to a spiritual awakening as a result

This is the final step and one that highlights the reaching out and helping others in recovery. By this step, most folks in recovery have been involved in service work in some sort of form or another. Typically with this step, individuals can look back on their recovery and notice the spiritual transformation within them.

The final step is a stepping stone to keep up all the work you have put in so that way you can uphold outstanding measures to a life of sobriety.

Traditional 12-Step – Sponsors

The 12-Step Program encourages their participants to have and maintain a “sponsor” throughout their journey of these steps. A “sponsor” is known as an individual who will help manages urges, create a bond so addicts can express their feeling and emotions and to help guide addicts to their path of recovery because they have struggled with the same journey themselves.

In the year of 2013, it is estimated that over 2.1 million individuals have participated in 12-Step Program through Alcoholics Anonymous.