How to Work the 12 Steps to Your Advantage
After almost 100 years of existence, the practices of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) have become rooted in our society. Even people who’ve not had a need for AA or similar recovery support programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have heard of the 12 Steps. If you’re someone moving forward with sobriety and using AA or NA, maybe you’re just discovering how meaningful the 12 Steps can be in your life. Let’s take a closer look.
Spirituality at the Core of Recovery
The original 12 Steps, as published by AA, are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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 as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Wording has changed in some instances to be more inclusive or reflective of a particular support group’s mission.
Some individuals take each Step quite literally, as they have a foundation in Christianity; relying on their faith to enable sobriety feels natural to them. Others may follow the doctrine of another denomination but have no problem with references to “God” or “Him”—they know who they’re thinking of and why. Certain individuals might feel spiritual but not align with a particular religion, so they mentally adjust each Step to make it meaningful and relevant for them.
An interesting study published by the American Psychological Association explored why spirituality within the 12 Steps creates vital connections. This is one way to frame the power the Steps provide: they help you discover a like-minded community focused on a progressive way of life.
When you first enter recovery, it’s a common reaction to resist change, especially when that change feels forced upon you. If you’re feeling resistant to the 12 Step philosophy but being “forced” to work the program for a while, one thing to do is simply surrender to the process. Think of the 12 Steps as a roadmap to the destination of sobriety. Sure, you’ll make stops and detours along the way of your own choosing. But you can also trust the route when you return to it.
Over time, as you regain clarity, you might want to try other support options outside of the Anonymous group—and that’s a terrific goal. It demonstrates that not only do you understand the importance of structure to help you maintain sobriety, but that you’re also willing to reinforce healthy habits and learn something new.
Work the 12 Steps at Your Pace
Another advantage of the 12-Step process is that even though you work it in order, you can always linger over one Step, or return to another, as you reconnect with self. Discovery is an important factor in meaningful recovery. For example, in therapy, you might have uncovered:
- How trauma impacted addiction.
- Why adverse childhood experiences shaped future thoughts and behaviors.
- How certain mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, contributed to addiction.
The 12 Steps become a stabilizing foundation as you put the puzzle pieces together, helping you redefine this amazing journey in a more purposeful way.
The 12-Step Process Is Just One of Many Tools
At Seabrook, we believe in the power of the 12 Steps because we’ve witnessed the tremendous impact they have on thousands of people. But we also provide access to many other tools so you have every imaginable resource to create a life of health, joy, and peace.
For example, our clients use therapy and the 12 Steps in conjunction with holistic methods such as yoga, acupressure, drum circles, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). We also offer a dedicated Christian Track for people of that faith.
Build a foundation of sobriety with professionals who understand you, and make every effort to enable your success.