The 12 Steps in 12 Step Programs

What are the 12 steps in 12 step programs, what do they mean and how do they help? Find out more below.

What are the 12 Steps?

The approach to addiction exemplified by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar groups is the 12-step program. After admitting they have a problem and seeking help, recovering addicts can join a 12-step program by attending meetings and finding a sponsor. Once they do so, addicts are encouraged to “work the steps,” which means following each step to completion before moving on to the next.

However, the process of dealing with addiction and rebuilding one’s life does not end with the completion of the 12th and final step. Instead, addicts are encouraged to repeat the steps throughout their lives to sustain a happy and stable life.

The steps were created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. Initially workshopped in the early meetings of AA, the 12-steps received mass exposure in “The Big Book of AA,” published in 1939. The book has since become a best-seller and was designated one of the “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress in 2012. Due to their power and broad dissemination, the 12-steps have been adopted by many groups and are often used in rehab centers worldwide.

Here are the 12-steps at the core of this approach:

Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8

Made a list of persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11

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.

Step 12

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.

How the 12 Steps Help

It is easy to see how these steps build on each other. They encourage individuals to develop specific characteristics which facilitate recovery. Starting with the very first step, addicts are expected to engender an attitude of humility and the courage of self-examination.

The process can be a long and difficult one. There is no estimated timeline for completing the steps. Rather than rush through the steps, it is far more important to progress thoroughly and when one is ready.

12-step programs are not the only method of recovery from addiction. Indeed, they are not for everyone. However, the steps are a well-established method of fighting addiction that has changed the lives of millions for the better.

Articles about the 12 steps in 12 step programs including what they are, what the importance of each step is and each step is done. Read about each of the 12 steps.

Articles about the 12 Steps

Divorce - Cut Marriage Certificate

Do 12 Step Programs Cause Divorce?

No two marriages are the same. Therefore, it is hard to predict how addiction and recovery are likely to affect a specific union.

However, some general rules of the thumb do apply. Addiction does not benefit healthy human relationships, romantic or otherwise. It brings out the more manipulative and self-centered sides in most people’s personalities. Therefore, all things being equal, recovery from addiction should benefit most romantic relationships.

Share:
Read More »
How AA Works Happy Joyous Free

How Alcoholics Anonymous Works

Despite being around for over 80 years, there is still a certain aura of mystery surrounding Alcoholics Anonymous. Some people say it is a miracle program that saved their lives, while others call it a cult.

The truth is, it is neither. Alcoholics Anonymous is a structured program that aims to facilitate recovery by providing a solid structure for a fulfilling spiritual life, to help addicts overcome their alcoholism.

How does it work? Members regularly attend meetings and find a sponsor. The support of these individuals is crucial to a successful recovery. They then work the 12-steps outline in AA literature carefully and methodically. If members genuinely want to quit drinking and follow the steps, they usually able to stay dry and establish a more fulfilling life in the long run.

Share:
Read More »
Helping Interlocking Hands

How to Take a Sponsee Through the 12 Steps – A Guide

Being a sponsor is one of the most significant responsibilities for any recovering addict or alcoholic. However, it is worth remembering that aside from providing a service to others, acting as a sponsor is also part of your recovery. As the 12th Step tells us: “we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” There is no better way to put this into practice than sponsoring an ailing addict and aiding their recovery.

By definition, the heart of a twelve-step program is the steps in question. The twelve steps are an incredibly difficult challenge to overcome, and they require the guidance and support of a sponsor. Therefore, the responsibility of a sponsor to help their sponsee through the steps is the most critical and challenging part of the sponsorship role.

Share:
Read More »
The AA Principles

The 12 Spiritual Principles (Virtues) of AA & What They Mean

The 12-steps are the cornerstone of a popular approach to treating addiction, first popularized decades ago by Alcoholics Anonymous. The steps and the 12-step process more generally have a spiritual component.

However, the spiritual components of each step are not always apparent. In addition, the wording behind the steps often stresses practical concerns over spiritual ones.

Bill W., one of the two founders of AA, stressed the spiritual side of the program and wished to make that element more explicit. The 12 step program ultimately aims to replace destructive tendencies and addiction with a healthier and more sustainable way of life. Therefore, he envisioned a spiritual program that would be incorporated into all facets of day-to-day life.

Share:
Read More »
Praying Hands

Common Narcotics Anonymous Prayers & Mottos

In most 12 step programs including Narcotics Anonymous, prayers and mottos are a big part. Below, you’ll find the most common prayers and mottos used in the Narcotics Anonymous program.

Share:
Read More »
Alcohol Sadness

5 Ways Alcoholics Anonymous Helps

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship and organization that is known worldwide. It is available for men, women, and teenagers who struggle with alcoholism. Whether someone abuses alcohol or admits to having a problem with alcohol, Alcoholics Anonymous can help them. The meetings are not professional. They provide a supportive environment for anyone who needs help with overcoming their alcohol abuse or alcohol problem.

Share:
Read More »
Share:
Scroll to Top