Walking the Red Road is the mental and spiritual journey toward the right life. It is a 12-Step teaching Program of specific guiding principles that help individuals plan for recovery from compulsion, behavioral problems and addiction. This program includes the essence of Native American Spirituality. This entails a change for our behaviors and understanding in which each of us has a place for nature in our individual lives. It is not just walking upon the earth but walking with the earth. It is believed that there is a natural order to the universe and we are all connected with all that exsists.

The word Wellbriety is a concept that initially goes beyond the ideas of sobriety and wellness to define what is best for a naturally-balanced, whole person each of us seek to become. Wellbriety is to be well and sober. It teaches us that we must find a sobriety from addictions to alcohol and other drugs as well as help recover from the harmful effects of those drugs and alcohol on us as individuals. The “well” part in Wellbriety in itself is the inspiration to go beyond sobriety and recovery and committing to the life of healing and wellness every day.

Those individuals who take practice in the Wellbriety program have a specific set of beliefs that they follow and abide to in order to maintain a healing process in everyday life. The Red Road to Wellness uses the 12-Step Program in their teachings and pairs them with Native American sacred prayers and texts to help individuals in their journey to recovery.

These are the principles of The Red Road to Wellbriety:

  • Mother Earth is governed by a set of Principles, Laws and Values
  • Leadership exists to serve the people first
  • Leadership existence is to ensure that information (Truth) is given to the people
  • Changes are the result of implementing Natural laws
  • All Native people believe in a Supreme Being, In the Elders, and teachings as a guiding force to direct ourselves, families and communities
  • That there is a natural order running the universe
  • That our traditional ways were knowledgeable about the natural order
  • When the community leads, the leaders will follow
  • Alcohol and drugs are destroying us and we want to recover
  • That change comes from within the individual, the family and the community
  • That within each person, family and community is the innate knowledge for well being
  • The solution resides within each community
  • Interconnectedness – it takes everyone to heal the community
  • Healing will take place through the application of cultural and spiritual knowledge
  • Alcohol is a symptom…not the cause, drugs are a symptom…not the cause, Domestic Violence is a symptom…not the cause. To “heal a community” it needs to deal with the cause
  • That the Circle and the Four Directions are the Teachers
  • In the Four Laws of Change
    • Change is from within
    • In order for development to occur, it must be preceded by a vision
    • A great learning must take place
    • You must create a Healing Forest

The 12-Steps in the Wellbriety Program

 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.

This step is about being honest with yourself. As tough as it may be, you have to come to terms with “Yes, I’ve really got a problem. My addiction is overcoming my life and I cannot manage this lifestyle any further”

  • Great Spirit
    Whose voice I hear in the winds,
    And whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
    I need strength, not to be greater than my brother,
    but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
    Make me always ready to come to you
    with clean hands and straight eyes.

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.

With this step, there is hope no matter our amount of despair. God can help, but we must also do our part. Our creator has gifted us with a power of choice, along with free will and it must be in alignment with our goals.

  • My Creator, please lean close and hear my commitment
    that I may begin the process of healing.
    My Creator, I am hurting.
    Oh Great Spirit, accept the pact I make with you today.
    I am a spiritual seed.

    On my own I don’t know how to grow and be happy.
    Plant me near you that I may grow under your power and wisdom.
    Great Spirit, alone I don’t know how to do this.
    Creator, mold and shape me into a spiritual warrior.
    Oh Great Mystery, please hear me.

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.

During this step, the individual focuses on seeking help and guidance from and Elder, medical personal, sponsor, a spiritual friend or mentor of some kind. It is said during this phase to allow your ears, eyes and heart to guide you to the correct person who can be your understanding and support.

  • O Great Spirit,
    whose voice I hear in the winds,
    and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me! I am small and weak.
    I need your strength and wisdom.
    Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes
    ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made
    and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand
    the things you have taught my people. Let me hear the lessons you have hidden
    in every leaf and rock. I need strength, not to be greater than my brother,
    but to fight my greatest enemy – myself. Make me always ready
    to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
    So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
    my spirit may come to you without shame.

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.

Self-examination has always been part of Native culture because the cultural definition of success is centered on building character. Before an individual can build character, they must know their weaknesses, shortcomings, and character defects. Self-examination absolutely takes the courage of a warrior. In order to have courage, you need a heart and this step helps a person find just that.

  • Creator, protect me from my worst enemy – myself.
    I ask that you guide me into the badlands of self,
    that I may know you better.
    Please protect my spirit as I relive the past
    in order to recover.
    Great Spirit, guide me as I face
    the self-examination of the South.

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.

In this step, the person focuses on disclosing secrets. Revealing our secrets to another human being and to the creator will lift the heaviness and we will begin to see with our hearts just as an eagle sees love in everything.

  • Facing South, pray faintly on the wind:

Great Spirit, take my secrets on the four winds and
purify them that I may use them in a good way.

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.

This step consolidates the entire process of self-discovery through which we have identified our weaknesses and character defects.

  • Creator, I stand ready for the winds of change
    to carry on its healing process.

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.

We are considered warriors and in this point in the warrior’s journey, we have desire, knowledge and allies to change. Our self-knowledge comes from the lists we made while facing South. Our allies are considered to be the Elders and the Red Road brothers and sisters we have been sitting with in our healing circles.

  • My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me- good and bad.
    I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character
    that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.
    Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.

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.

This step helps us start to mend the wreckage of our relationships. We in this step, acknowledge that we hurt people. After doing this, we prepare the ground to actually make amends in the next step. It is believed that we are connected to all things. When we come to terms and accept this truth, we become willing to look at our part in the creation of the harm.

  • Creator, help me meditate on each instance of my past
    that I may see the truth.
    Creator, I pray for each and every relation
    I must approach at this time.
    Great Spirit, my Sacred Hoop is broken.
    Please guide me in healing other Hoops that I have broken.
    Creator, help me to focus on my part
    in these weakest links of my life.

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.

As we as individuals walk on the path of forgiveness and justice we remain focused on the things we’ve done wrong. We are on a path to become right with others and our Creator.

  • God is the Love that lets me forgive others and others forgive me.
    Creator, guide me in finding the greatest peace, fellowship and
    justice with all women and men.

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.

This step is about moment-to-moment inner alertness and offering instant amends when necessary. The only way to change old habits is to create new ones. We practice being a positive warrior; the negative warrior eventually fades into the background. If we are consistent and diligent we make a new life.

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.

We have always been a people of prayer. Something inside us becomes alert when an Elder prays. This step is about re-awakening our gift of prayer and using it for recovery. Many of us view a path as a narrow trail, but a spiritual path is unlimited. Prayer and meditation widen the path and remove obstacles in our way. When we seek something bigger than our ego-self we find self-esteem. The deep root of our wellness is our relationship with the Great Mystery. Prayer and meditation keep our spiritual awareness of the unseen world of Spirit very close.

  • With this sacred pipe you will walk upon the Earth; for the Earth is your Grandmother and Mother, and She is sacred. Every step that is taken upon Her should be as a prayer. The bowl of this pipe is of red stone; it is the Earth. Carved in the stone and facing the center is this buffalo calf who represents all the four-legged’s who live upon your Mother. The stem of the pipe is of wood, and this represents all that grows upon the earth. And these twelve feathers which hang here where the stem fits into the bowl…represent the eagle and all the winged’s of the air. All these people and all the things of the Universe, are joined to you who smoke the pipe – all send their voices to Wakan-Tanka the Great Spirit. When you pray with this pipe you pray for and with everything.Presentation of the Sacred Pipe

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.

As individuals we can help our brothers and sisters who are still suffering from drug and alcohol abuse one-on-one. We can talk to them about what our lives were like, about the Journey we took to heal ourselves, about what we are like now, and our vision for the future. We can share the good that happened to us.

The 12 Teachings represent an order which help humans rediscover harmony in their own lives:


  1. The Honor of One is the Honor of All; The Pain of One is The Pain of All
  2. In order for anything to grow, it must struggle to do so first.
  3. All permanent and lasting change starts on the inside, and then works its way out.
  4. Conflict precedes clarity.
  5. Healing takes place when we want to, choose to, like it, and love it.
  6. We move towards and become like that in which we think about. If we move towards what we like, then isn’t it time to begin thinking about what we are actually thinking about?
  7. We can be in one of two states of mind: (1) I don’t know what I don’t know. (2) Now I know what I don’t know. If we can get from step one to step two, we can begin to solve our problems.
  8. The leadership systems currently in place often look at us as doing, and they say ‘do differently’ to change. But the Native American way states that we are human beings, not human If we want to change our doing, then we must start by changing our beings. The way to change our being starts with changing our intent.
  9. People need our love the most when they deserve it the least.
  10. Declare Healing, not war, on Alcohol and Drugs. It is not a war on drugs, it is a healing journey.
  11. Inside of every human being is the knowledge of his/her own well-being.
  12. The Creator doesn’t expect you to be successful as much as he expects you to be faithful.