What Are The 12 Steps?
The 12 steps program was designed to aid alcoholics and addicts in achieving and maintaining sobriety. The twelve steps are a carefully thought-out action plan to lead these individuals to a sober lifestyle. These steps were first published by Alcohol Anonymous, a support group for alcoholics, in 1939. These practices have since been used in recovery groups and rehabilitation centers across the globe.
Breaking Down The Twelve Steps
In order to truly understand the effectiveness of the twelve-step program, it is important to look at each step individually. Americanaddictioncenters.org lists the steps in this order:
- Admit Powerless Over Alcohol
- An individual must first admit the presence of a problem.
- Accept that higher power, in whatever form, will restore your sanity.
- This step requires the alcoholic/ addict to admit that they cannot face this on their own, and they simply need help.
- Decide to turn your life and your will over to a higher power.
- Willpower comes into play here. One must submit to a power greater than themselves.
- Take a moral inventory of yourself.
- This step involves reflection. Where did you go wrong? Who have you hurt in the process?
- Admit to a higher power, another human, and yourself the nature of your wrongdoings
- One must confront their painful past to move forward in healing.
- Accept that a higher power will remove your deficits.
- An individual must believe that change is possible with the help of a higher power.
- Humbly request the higher power remove your shortcomings.
- The individual can use prayer or meditation to seek a life without addiction
- List people, you hurt and be willing to make amends
- This step involves reaching out to those affected by your addiction and restoring the relationship.
- Make amends with those people unless it will harm them.
- Individuals should seek resolution so long as it does not negatively impact the mental or physical well-being of the other person.
- Continue to take a personal inventory and admit when you are wrong.
- The admittance of a problem and willingness to accept your shortcomings is an ongoing process.
- Use prayer and meditation to connect with the higher power.
- One should continue to use prayer and meditation to improve their life.
- Carry the message of AA to other alcoholics and continue to use the steps in your daily life
- The final step focuses on maintaining a sober life and encouraging others to do the same.
The Twelve Steps Continued
A recurring theme was very prominent while breaking down each step. The central focus of the steps is centered around a higher power or divine being. Alcoholics Anonymous does not explicitly state which higher power they refer to as they leave it up to the individual themselves. Overarching central religious themes such as breaking the will, submitting to divine authority, admitting wrongdoings, and seeking repentance are at the program’s core. The program suggests redemption should be sought through prayer and meditation, as well as making amends.
A “higher power” can technically mean anything. As long as the addict admits that they cannot achieve sobriety alone and need help from an outside source, they should be able to work through the steps just like a religious individual. A non-religious person seeking rehabilitation is still encouraged to try the twelve-step program.
What is The Length of the 12 Step Program?
There is no set length of time in the program to see success. Some individuals may spend more time at a specific step, and others may need to spend more time in meetings at first. It is vital that the steps are not rushed. If one is truly dedicated to a sober lifestyle, the length of the program will be ongoing. However, many who have completed the program began to see improvements in their lives early into the program.
It is also important to note that the twelve-step program can be completed more than once, and it is encouraged to be completed several times. Addicts and alcoholics may need to work through the program numerous times before achieving sobriety. People also may need to reference individual steps at different points in their lives. The goal of the program is to have a lasting impression on sufferers and be a constant aid in their sober lifestyle. Alcoholics Anonymous wants everyone to achieve sobriety; however, there is a clear understanding that addiction is complex and the program is not a quick fix.
What to Expect from the 12 Steps of AA
Attendees will find a community of active addicts and recovering addicts alike. Those who attend meetings are encouraged to be open and honest about their addiction journey, however; one does not have to share anything they are not comfortable with. Alcoholics and addicts will get the chance to fellowship with others who have been through or going through similar situations.
Most new attendees find sponsors at twelve-step meetings. A sponsor is an individual who has completed a twelve-step program and is ready and willing to help another alcoholic complete the program. Often, sponsors will exchange contact information and act as a mentor in another’s journey to sobriety.
Meetings can range in length and are held in cities all across the globe. Most twelve-step meetings are held in the mornings and afternoons to give people with different schedules the opportunity to attend. Some addicts seeking recovery may need to attend more than one meeting a day.
Meetings are usually hosted at churches, community centers, and recreational buildings. AA.org has a free resource where individuals can find available meetings spanning multiple cities, states, and countries.