The 12 steps that are often discussed as part of an addiction recovery program were originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous as a process for giving up drinking. These spiritual principles can be used for other types of substance abuse issues and dependency issues as well.
What Are The 12 Steps?
The original 12 steps, as published by Alcoholics Anonymous, are as follows:
- 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.
Admitting Powerlessness Over Addiction
The first step – admitting one’s powerlessness in the face of addiction – can be the most difficult. It acknowledges that someone who is an addict is no longer in control of his or her actions, but is compelled to drink or do drugs and needs help from outside themselves to stop.
Not A Religious-based Program
Even though God is mentioned in the 12 steps, take note of the wording, “as we understood Him.” Having a particular faith is not a requirement to work the steps to recovery. This method can be used by people of all religious denominations, as well as agnostics and atheists.
Attending Meetings Part Of The Process
This recovery method is one which involves regular attendance at meetings. Members are encouraged to introduce themselves and admit their addiction. Everything discussed during a meeting is held in strict confidence, and members get help and support from each other.
Meetings are an opportunity for new members to find a more experienced member to act as their sponsor. Sponsors have a one-on-one supportive relationship with their sponsees. The sponsor is another person in recovery who is prepared to share his or her journey.
Getting sober is something that requires support. Working a 12-step program provides structure and built-in support from people who are also walking the same path.
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Dr. Bhalavat is Board Certified in General Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, and provides inpatient evaluation and consultation services at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital, Maryland Recovery Partners, and Citizens Care & Rehabilitation Center. Dr. Bhalavat’s background includes treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and dementia.