What Are the 12-Steps?
The 12-Steps are a set of guiding principles in addiction treatment that outlines a course of action for tackling problems associated with substance use disorder (SUD).
The 12-Steps Are:
- We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol or drugs and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We believed that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We decided to turn our will and lives over to God’s care as we understood Him.
- We made a searching and moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we harmed and became willing to make amends to them.
- We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take a personal inventory and, when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- 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 that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening due to these steps, we tried this message to alcoholics or addicts to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Understanding The Concept of God in AA
Although the 12-Steps refer to God, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) are spiritual, not religious, programs.
The language emphasizes “God as we understood Him,” meaning that you can interpret the word God in any way you want.
You can also refer to God as a Higher Power if that language makes you more comfortable.
Typically, the only requirement for a Higher Power is that it be greater than yourself and loving.
Recovery is a lifelong process, meaning there is no right way to approach the Steps.
Most recovering addicts will revisit the 12-Steps as their recovery progresses and face new challenges.
However, Steps One, Two, and Three are considered the foundation of a 12-Step program and are recommended for daily practice.
Contrary to what people have said for a long time, 12-Step programs have significant outcomes.
A new study published by the medical journal Cochrane found that peer-led 12-step programs help people get sober and have higher rates of continuous sobriety than professional mental health therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
The study is significant because it dispels misinformation about the efficacy of the 12-step program, said lead author Dr. John Kelly, a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“In the popular press, there have been reports of AA not working or even harmful for people,” he said. “So, we wanted to clarify the scientific picture to the highest scientific standard.”
The prominence of these programs and success stories from recovering substance users indicate that the 12-Steps are extremely effective in treating addiction. The 12-Step model provides support, encouragement, and accountability for people who want to overcome addiction.