The 12-Steps are a simple program – “keep it in the day” is one of the popular mantras. They are a linear guide to finding freedom from addiction and a path to serenity.
The 12-Steps are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Although this might seem confusing and overwhelming to a newcomer, the 12-Steps are a straightforward process. We break down how they work in the following section.
Admitting you are powerless over alcohol (or drugs) simply means that when you start, you cannot always stop. Most people who come into treatment have realized that they have a problem with their relationship with substances.
Steps 2 and 3 are simply about letting go of control. We realize that under our own power, we will likely use drugs or drink again. Turning our will and our lives over to the care of something greater than ourselves simply means doing what you think a loving higher power would want you to do.
These are known as the ‘action steps’. They center around making a list of all our harms and resentments and sharing them with another human. We use this list to make amends where we can and right some of the wrongs we have made.
Steps 4 to 9 show us how to live in the world without being burdened by our past. Shame and regret are very common traits in our clients. These steps help us to build bridges with loved ones and friends and are a brilliant cathartic process.
Steps 10-12 are known as the ‘maintenance steps.’ We have already learned how to live in the world in steps 1-9, and now we keep on living. We reflect on our behaviors and actions daily and apologize when we need to.
Step 12 is the cornerstone of the program. It centers around staying sober by helping others through the steps. Clients often feel that this gives them a sense of purpose, belonging, and is a brilliant way to boost self-esteem.