The 12-step recovery program is a treatment program for people suffering from alcohol and substance abuse. The program participants follow a set of recovery steps to achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol and substance abuse. Many people use a sponsor to help them through the process. The program uses a spiritual approach that includes a belief in a higher power. Members define that higher power in their own way—it does not have to be God.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Many addicts have a hard time admitting that they can’t control their alcohol / substance use. Once they acknowledge that they are unable to stop on their own, the recovery process can begin.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
AA believes that people with an addiction need to look to something greater than themselves to recover. Those working the steps are free to choose whatever higher power works for them.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
For this step, the addict consciously decides to turn themselves over to whatever or whomever they believe their higher power to be. With this release often comes recovery.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
This step requires self-examination that can be uncomfortable, but honesty is essential in this process. The key is to identify any areas of past regret, embarrassment, guilt or anger.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This step involves admitting to past poor behavior. Often, addicts will share what they wrote down during the previous step with their sponsor.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
The addict admits that they are ready to have their higher power remove the wrongs they listed in Step 4.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Every person has character defects, whether they come in the form of impatience, anger, apathy, criticism or negativity. The recovering addict is not strong enough to eliminate these defects on their own, so they ask their higher power to do so.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
The addict write down all of the people they have wronged through their addiction. The wrongs could range from large to small – from stealing from them to buy more alcohol / drugs to talking negatively behind their backs.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Many addicts work with their sponsor to figure out the best way to complete this step. Making amends could include writing a letter to a person or sitting down face to face with them.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
This step involves a commitment to monitor yourself for any behaviors that may be detrimental to yourself or others and to admit when you are wrong.
Step 11: 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.
Step 10 requires you to commit to some kind of spiritual practice. That practice could be anything from prayer, to meditation, to reading scripture.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
This step encourages members to help others in their recovery. Many members become sponsors once they have completed the 12 steps.