A Closer Look at the 12 Steps

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If you have been touched by addiction, you are probably familiar with the 12 steps in the 12-step program. Yet even if you haven’t been personally affected by drug or alcohol addiction, you should still recognize the importance of a 12-step program in addiction recovery. This program is a set of guiding principles that works through behavioral problems such as addiction and compulsivity. Alcoholics Anonymous is the largest of the 12-step programs followed by Narcotics Anonymous. These programs are highly effective and part of a comprehensive recovery program.

Let’s take a look at the 12 steps so that you can better understand them for yourself or a loved one.

Step 1 – Honesty: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Addicts spend many years in denial, but when they finally admit that they have an addiction and are powerless over it, treatment can begin. Friends and families of addicts must also admit their loved one’s powerless over addiction.

Step 2 – Faith: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

In order for a higher power to have an impact on your life, you must believe that it can. Developing faith at this time is an integral part of the journey, and it will open you up to the spiritual world.

Step 3 – Surrender: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

Having free-will is exhilarating, but when your life has been taken over by addiction, it’s time to surrender everything to a higher power. Leaving things in “His hands” is a step that people in troubling situations often take in order to focus on self-healing without a need for control.

Step 4 – Soul Searching: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Recovery is not a one-time event; it’s a process that takes a lifetime. The 12-step program is the same idea. By identifying our problems and how they have affected others, we can have a better understanding of ourselves and our actions.

Step 5 – Integrity: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Being honest with a higher power can be difficult, but being honest with another human being is the ultimate test. Through this step, you will learn to be honest with yourself, God and others, releasing past burdens and moving forward.

Step 6 – Acceptance: Were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.

Once you have admitted your wrongdoings, you must be willing to remove these faults from your character. This can be difficult since our faults become familiar and comfortable.

Step 7 – Humility: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

When you are ready to have your faults removed, you must humbly ask God to remove your shortcomings. This step is not as easy as it sounds; you must know what faults to ask God to relieve you from.

Step 8 – Willingness: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Making a list of the friends, family and acquaintances you have harmed through your addiction is difficult, but making amends is even more in depth. To relieve your burdens, you must be willing to make amends and live life unselfishly.

Step 9 – Forgiveness: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Making amends with the people you have listed from Step 8 takes courage and strength. You must confront these individuals directly so that the past can be cleared. Opening up new wounds, however, is not necessary.

Step 10 – Maintenance: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Words only go so far; you must also show that you meant what you said. If you say you’re sorry for something but continue the behavior, your words mean little. This step allows you to maintain your unselfishness and manage relationships.

Step 11 – Making Contact: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Before coming to rehab, you may have had no relationship with a higher power. With Step 11, you will have a better understanding of this power and His plan for your life. Prayer and meditation are integral during this Step as well.

Step 12 – Service: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Share your experience, your strength and your hope with others. Live your life according to these principles, and don’t be afraid to reach out to others. The 12 steps are meant to be shared.

The River Source supports a 12-step approach, and we believe that it is a beneficial part of recovery, especially when paired with life coaching, counseling and healthy lifestyle behaviors such as meditation and journaling.