What Are the 12 Steps of Recovery and Is It Right for Me?
Overcoming a substance abuse problem or addiction to drugs and/or alcohol is never easy, even if you do not have a history with addiction or if you have the proper amount of support in your everyday life. Truly overcoming a substance abuse problem or addiction long-term requires persistence, consistency, and the willpower to continue living a life of sobriety even when it is no longer simple or easy. Understanding the basics of a traditional 12-step program can help you find a drug and alcohol addiction solution that is optimal for you and your needs while providing you with the opportunity to turn your life around and improving it for the better. Here is a description of what is included in the 12 steps of recovery so you can decide whether or not it is right for you.
- Admitting Your Addiction and the Power it Has Over Your Life
Admitting that you have an addiction and that you are powerless over it is the first step to take when enrolling in a step program or treatment center. Understanding that you are powerless over drugs or alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable is imperative to face your addiction and the challenges it poses head-on.
Step 1: “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
- Coming to Believe in a Higher Power
Coming to believe that there is a a power greater than yourself is the second step involved in the recovery process from using drugs and/or alcohol. Acknowledging that there is a higher power at work is the beginning of letting go of the addiction. This will be helpful while working through the most challenging and uncomfortable times you are likely to encounter when facing your substance abuse or addiction.
Step 2: “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
- Turning Life Over to Your Higher Power
Turn your life over to your Higher Power and allow it to care for you and the struggles you are facing with your substance abuse or addiction each day. Allow your Higher Power to care for the future outcome of your life.
Step 3:” We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power as we understood it.”
- Create a Moral Inventory of Yourself
Creating a moral inventory of yourself may be the most difficult step to face, especially if you struggle with decisions you have made in the past and the relationships you currently struggle with each day. Creating a moral inventory of your past actions and behavior provides valuable insight into potential internal flaws you need to fix and work on for the loved ones in your life. When you have a moral inventory of yourself, you can face issues your substance abuse or addiction has lead to head-on without avoiding them.
Step 4: “We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
- Admitting The Nature of Your Wrongs
Admitting that you have committed wrongs against others is another extremely important step in the recovery process. Having the power to admit to your Higher Power and another individual who you trust and can speak openly with is essential.
Step 5: “We admitted to our Higher Power, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
- Become Ready to Allow Your Higher Power to Remove Defects of Character
Become ready to ask for your Higher Power to help remove the defects from your character that lead to negative actions, behaviors, and responses in everyday life. You cannot ask for something until you are ready for it.
Step 6: “We were entirely ready to have our Higher Power remove all these defects of character.”.
- Ask Your Higher Power to Remove Shortcomings
Ask for your Higher Power to help with removing and eliminating the shortcomings or character defects you have as an individual. Are you extremely impulsive or unable to manage your responses to various tempting situations? Ask your Higher Power, as you understand it, to remove the shortcomings and character defects you came up with in steps four and five.
Step 7: “We humbly asked our Higher Power to remove our shortcomings.”
- Create a List of Individuals You Have Harmed to Make Amends
Create a list of individuals you have harmed or caused a strain in your relationship with in the past to make amends as you work towards overcoming your substance abuse or addiction. Having a list is the beginning of a way to remove the guilt and shame that you have carried.
Step 8: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
- Make Direct Amends
Make direct amends to those you have harmed when it is possible and will not cause any further harm. This step should not be avoided and is important for growth in your recovery program.
Step 9: “We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
- Continue to Take a Moral Inventory
Keep maintaining a moral inventory of your actions and current relationships, even after you have completed prior steps in the 12-step process. This helps you on a daily basis and is considered part of the maintenance or your recovery program.
Step 10: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”\
- Seek to Improve Your Connection with Your Higher Power
Seek to always improve your current connection with your Higher Power as you understand it, even after you have committed to a life of sobriety. Consider implementing additional prayer and meditation into your daily life to focus on this Higher Power and managing your current lifestyle without the use of drugs and alcohol present at any time.
Step 11: “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our Higher Power as we understood it, praying only for knowledge and a will for us and the power to carry that out.”
- Experience a Life-Changing Spiritual Awakening
Experiencing a life-changing spiritual awakening is another way to truly overcome substance abuse or addiction while embracing your new lifestyle that is free from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. Spiritual awakenings often occur with authentic connections to higher powers along with a dedication to various teachings such as meditation and prayer. Carry this message to others suffering with substance abuse and addiction. Remember the basis of 12-step recovery is one addict or alcoholic helping another addict or alcoholic to recover.
Step 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.”
Understanding what a 12 step program offers is a way to determine which inpatient or outpatient treatment program is best for you. When you know what to expect from a 12 step program, you can attend meetings and move forward with your lifestyle of sobriety without feeling hindered or held back while overcoming and facing each of the steps involved in the program itself. With the right treatment program for you, regain control over your life without feeling as if you are constrained or not supported at any time while fighting the temptations of your substance abuse or addiction.