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What Are the 12 Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous?

people learn what are the 12 steps in AA

The message behind each Alcoholics Anonymous 12 steps is a guide to becoming centered as a human being. The core themes appearing in the framework of the program are those of honesty, faith, surrendering to a higher power, acceptance, forgiveness, service to others, and the encouragement to follow a vein of spirituality. They also provide a platform to allow someone to begin the process of recovery, one achievable step at a time. For more information about our alcohol addiction treatment program or if you’re wondering what are the 12 steps in A.A., find answers today by calling Vertava Health today at 844.470.0410

The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) Explained

Someone newly in recovery may feel overwhelmed with the enormous task of reconstructing their life post-treatment. As laid out by Alcoholics Anonymous, the steps allow for a smoother transition from the chaos of addiction to a more orderly approach that reduces anxiety and stress common to the process.

Step One: “We Admitted We Were Powerless over Alcohol and That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable.”

This is a key first step and critical to gaining any traction in recovery. People attempt sobriety for many reasons. A spouse may threaten divorce, child custody may be hanging in the balance, or a career may be at risk. However, unless the person seeks sobriety because they can see the whole picture and the loss of control over the addiction, they may temporarily get sober to relapse.

The first step is really about being honest with yourself. When you tell yourself that you are in control, you ignore the reality of the addiction. You fail to address corresponding issues related to the addiction and are vulnerable to a whole host of threats to your sobriety. Being honest and acknowledging the addiction is the first step in finding a solution to overcome it.

Step Two “We Came to Believe that a Power Greater than Ourselves Could Restore Us to Sanity.”

While some aspects of this step may mean different things for different people, step two embraces the notion that you are unable to solve the problem of your addiction without help. And that faith in a higher power, whether it be God or the program, is needed to help someone achieve sobriety.

Step Three “We Made a Decision to Turn Our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God as We Understand Him.”

The third step may also be interpreted to mean a literal higher power for the program. Again, the idea is one of surrendering to something more powerful than your individuality. If you think of step two as the way to seek out a treatment plan, step three may apply to the act of entering rehabilitation.

Step Four “We Made a Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory of Ourselves.”

This step can be as excruciating as the withdrawal process for many. It involves searching within and discovering the wrongs and shortcomings within you. This process involves a literal honest inventory of those character flaws that may have nurtured the addiction.

While painful, this process can offer enormous relief in finally relenting to the acknowledgment of your mistakes and flaws that may be remedied toward becoming a better, stronger person.

Step Five “We Admitted to God, to Ourselves, and to Another Human Being the Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.”

This step is about building integrity within yourself and the greater A.A. community. By openly acknowledging your shortcomings in group meetings, not only does the individual experience a sense of relief, but those around the individual, each with their own set of shortcomings, may relate and feel more comfortable opening up and sharing.

Step Six “We Are Entirely Ready to Have God (Higher Power) Remove All These Defects of Character.”

Step six is about acknowledging the reality of your situation, letting go of the old ways, and allowing for positive change.

Step Seven “We Humbly Asked Him (Higher Power) to Remove Our Shortcomings.”

Step seven is about asking for help and having enough humility to seek guidance along your path toward recovery. Most people are raised to believe they are the centers of the universe, but this is not a helpful attitude when it comes to recovery from an addiction to alcohol. Instead, step seven helps you to maintain a humble approach forward; one that is not too proud to ask for help when and where it is needed can mean the difference between relapse and successful recovery.

Being humble also allows you to remain open to positive criticism or suggestion that will be of benefit during recovery.

Step Eight “We Made a List of All Persons We Had Harmed and Became Willing to Make Amends to Them All.”

When using substances, people make many mistakes. Some of these mistakes may be severe and may have resulted in the loss of life. Others may involve money you borrowed from a friend to purchase alcohol that was never repaid. Making a list of these wrongs not only helps you remain humble and reminds you of the frightening reality of your life with alcohol, but it also leads you to the next step in seeking forgiveness.

Step Nine “We Made Direct Amends to Such People Wherever Possible, Except When to Do So Would Injure Them or Others.”

This step is about making contact with those you have wronged somehow, whether big or small and attempting to make amends or repay your debt as able. Starting on this list can feel like an insurmountable task, but begin with something that is easier, and you’ll soon find yourself reconnecting with friends, family, and acquaintances. Not everyone will welcome you with open arms, but it isn’t about the response you get; it’s that you make an effort.

Step Ten “We Continued to Take Personal Inventory, and When We Were Wrong, We Promptly Admitted It.”

This is a maintenance step for steps eight and nine. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. This step is about making sure these mistakes don’t continue to feed guilt and generate anxiety but are instead addressed and let go. This step is part of a positive coping strategy. It allows you to face those things that you might have found too scary to address in the past.

Step Eleven “We 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 It Out.”

In many ways, this step is about mindfulness. Be mindful of the positive forces in your life, whether God, the program, or some other spiritual belief. It would be best if you also recognized that you are opening yourself to the momentum brought about by positive actions in your life. This step can help eliminate doubt, relieve anxiety, and help you reduce stress by allowing for quiet meditation or reflection.

Step Twelve “Having Had a Spiritual Experience as a Result of These Steps, We Tried to Carry This Message to Other Alcoholics, and to Practice These Principles in All Our Affairs.”

Live the life you intend to live using these principles to guide you, whether in your recovery or in your daily life. You might choose to become a sponsor for someone newly entering recovery, or perhaps you will continue to share your story at group meetings long into your sobriety. Step twelve is about service to others as it relates to the steps you’ve taken to achieve sobriety. As a graduating step, it begs the question, “What will you do with this profound knowledge and experience to help others?”

Does the Twelve Steps Model Work?

For many, the 12 steps model of Alcoholics Anonymous is the sole reason they were able to get and stay sober. Founded in the 1930s by Dr. Bob Smith and Bill Wilson, A.A. has been the cornerstone of alcohol addiction recovery for more than 80 years. This program relies on the belief that by helping others get and stay sober, an individual can stay sober as well.

The Big Book of A.A. is the primary source of literature used in the Twelve-Step model and thoroughly explains the 12 steps that are used as a guideline to recovery. Through personal stories and anecdotes, the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book outlines the steps that have been successful in helping countless individuals recover from alcoholism.

A.A. has been around as long as it has because it works. Countless studies have shown that A.A. is a proven method of recovery. However, there’s one catch: individuals in A.A. have to work the steps and stay diligent thoroughly. Without this commitment, there is less of a chance of success in A.A. So, whether or not the 12-step model works will depend on the individual.

Find Treatment at Vertava Health

There are many treatment options that put the 12 steps of A.A. at the forefront of their program. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that incorporate A.A. into their method of recovery are available, and chances are there’s a treatment center near you. For instance, at Vertava Health, we offer a range of treatment options for alcohol addiction, including:

  • Inpatient treatment program
  • Partial hospitalization program
  • Intensive outpatient program
  • Outpatient treatment program
  • Drug and alcohol detox

Twelve-step meetings and groups can be very beneficial in the treatment and throughout the entire recovery process, as they challenge individuals to address their problems in addiction and find a solution. This program also provides the opportunity for people to form lasting bonds with others in recovery and to discover things to do for fun sober.

If you are looking for a meeting near you, you can contact Vertava Health at 844.470.0410, and we will help you find meetings in your area.