Content Reviewed by Cameron Bolish, M.Ed., CEO of PaRC

If you engage with an addiction or substance use recovery community, you may have heard of the Twelve Steps. Coined through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a 12-step program is a set of guidelines that assists individuals suffering from addiction and substance use to achieve lasting sobriety.

Many addiction and substance use treatment centers utilize the 12-step model, as it poses several notable benefits for individuals working to overcome their addiction. Often, 12-step meetings are open for the people in recovery as well as family or friends looking to become educated and better support their loved one struggling.

It is important to note that the 12-step model is a spiritual model, as it requires your to consider and honor a power greater than yourself. These steps are typically completed in order, although some people find themselves revisiting steps from time to time.

Defining the 12 Steps

Let’s consider each of the 12 steps and the messages they are trying to convey:

#1 “We admitted we were powerless over substances and that our lives had become unmanageable.” The first step in your recovery healing from addiction is admitting a loss of self-control over a substance.

#2 “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” The second step involves you turning towards a power or force greater than yourself. Faith keeps recovery motivated, sustaining the belief that a higher power will aid in healing from addiction.

#3 “Made a decision to turn our lives and our will over to the care of a God of our understanding.” The third step involves making a conscious, sound decision to surrender to the higher power of your choice.

#4 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”  The fourth step asks you to honestly and whole-heartedly consider your character defects and resentments. This might include an evaluation of your morals and how your current or past behaviors contradict them.

#5 “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Share your self-discovery. The fifth step is humbling and requires you to admit your harmful behavior to yourself, your higher power and another person. This can be done with a sponsor or another trusted individual.

#6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” Readily submit to the power of your higher power. It is essential that you reach a stage of change beyond contemplation and find confidence in yourself, your higher power and your ability to achieve sobriety.

#7 “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” Allow your higher power to move you. Step seven allows you to let go and let your higher power do the work. Your higher power will help transform you and free you of any shortcomings or obstacles that keep you from achieving long-lasting recovery.

#8 “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” The eighth step requires you to evaluate any past harm that you may have caused others. In order to be better and to grow from your past, you must close any chapters that may have been left open due to feelings of guilt, shame or envy.

#9 “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.” The ninth step requires you to take action to right past wrongs. Completing this step unburdens you and feels like a huge weight being lifted off your shoulders.

#10 “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” The tenth step requires you to engage in further reflection while evaluating your morals and past behavior. Admit when you have done wrong and acknowledge problem behavior in the present moment.

#11 “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with a God of our understanding, paying only for the knowledge of God’s will and the power to carry that out.” The eleventh step requires you to engage in prayer and meditation to grow closer to yourself and your higher power. These actions improve your life and allow you to closely connect with the truest nature of your being.

#12 “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Extend a helping hand. The twelfth step in the 12 steps requires you to reach your hand out to others. When you experience a spiritual awakening, you will feel compelled to reach out to others that may benefit from a similar experience.

Working the Steps to Overcome Addiction

When people go through their own experience of working through the 12 steps, they will find that some steps will be more or less challenging than others. The most important thing to acknowledge is that all steps are crucial, especially in long-term recovery from substance use or addiction.

Some people may find themselves revisiting a step from time to time or restarting the 12 steps altogether. It is essential that you are able to recognize and identify who or what your higher power is and that you can find a deep connection with your higher power. This relationship sets the tone with how you respond to the 12-step program and how you respond to your personal healing journey.

The Twelve Steps are a popular treatment program offered to individuals who need guidance and support in addiction or substance use recovery. While the steps were initially created to help individuals struggling with an alcohol addiction find sobriety, these guidelines are now used to treat a range of addictions. The 12-step model is a spiritual model, which may cause people to want to resist the program entirely. In recovery, it is essential that you are able to identify a force greater than yourself that will help you to achieve long-lasting recovery. At PaRC (Prevention and Recovery Center), we offer the 12-step program as a means of therapy. It allows people to hold themselves and others accountable for their recovery while encouraging a deeper sense of connection to the world around them. For more information about the 12 steps or about the other treatment options we offer give us a call at (713) 939-7272 today.