12-step recovery is a process of healing, self-discovery, and spirituality. It’s an opportunity for growth and healing that can bring about a new understanding of oneself. The steps are designed to foster spiritual transformation through recovery from substance abuse or compulsive behaviors—but they’re also far more than just a means of overcoming addiction and creating positive change in one’s life. In this article Julian Ungar-Sargon, explores each step of the 12-step program along with its origins, meaning and purpose so you can understand what it means to be truly “recovered” from addiction.
Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Admitting that you are powerless over your addiction.
- Admitting that your life has become unmanageable.
- Admitting that you need help.
- Admitting that you need to change.
Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
This step is about developing faith in something greater than yourself. It may be God, or it may be something else entirely–your own strength and determination, for example. But whatever you choose to believe in, you should know that the goal of this exercise is not just to find some sort of spirituality or meaning in life; rather, it’s about finding the strength within yourself so that no matter what happens around you (or even within), everything will be okay because of your ability to cope with any situation at hand by relying on something bigger than yourself.
Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Turning your life over to God is about letting go of the addiction. It’s about not trying to control everything in your life and letting God be in charge instead. It’s also about trusting that if you surrender yourself completely to this higher power, he will help you overcome your addiction and lead a more fulfilling life.
Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
A moral inventory is a list of your character defects and wrongdoings. You can use this list to help you understand the roots of your addiction and identify ways to improve yourself. If you’re not sure where to begin, ask yourself these questions:
- What am I ashamed of?
- What do I regret?
- What have I done that was harmful or hurtful to others?
When making your list–and throughout recovery–it’s important not only to acknowledge these things but also take responsibility for them by owning up to them as part of who you are today.
Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This step is not optional. It’s important that you are honest with yourself and with God; but it’s also important that you are honest with others who can support you through this process of self-discovery and healing. If there is someone in your life whom you trust enough to share your story with them, then I encourage you to do so as soon as possible after taking the first four steps on your own (or maybe even before).
Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
In order to be ready to have God remove all these defects of character, you must be willing to change. It may take a while for you to figure out what it means for you personally, but one thing is certain: You can’t do this alone. It’s going to require the help of others who have already walked through this healing process themselves–and then there’s God himself!
The first step toward changing your life is admitting that there’s a problem in the first place; once that happens and you ask for help from others who understand addiction, things will start looking up fast. You’ll learn how valuable it is not only having good friends around but also being able yourself as well (through prayer).
Step 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
The Seventh Step is about asking for help, forgiveness and guidance from God. Many people think of this as a prayer or meditation but you can also just write down what you want to say in your journal or on paper if it feels more comfortable for you. You may want to start by saying something like: “I humbly ask God today…” Then talk about whatever comes up–the feelings that have been difficult for you lately, things that happened in the past week that were hard for you (e.g., seeing an old friend who reminds me of when I was using). This is also a good time to ask God for strength during times when life gets difficult–like when someone asks me out on a date!
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- This step can be difficult for many people, especially if you have been in recovery for any amount of time and have made some progress in your life. It’s important to remember that making amends does not mean apologizing or admitting guilt; it means taking responsibility for your actions and expressing regret over any harm done without expecting anything in return (including forgiveness).
- Making amends may include writing letters or emails, calling the person directly, sending flowers or gifts–the possibilities are endless! For example: “I’m sorry I hurt you by speaking so harshly about [insert topic here].” Another good way would be: “I want us both to move forward from this experience with no hard feelings between us.”
Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
In the ninth step, you make amends to those who have been harmed by your actions. You can do this in person or write a letter to them. You might also consider doing some volunteer work to help others who are struggling with addiction or other problems similar to yours.
If you’ve caused harm at work or school, talk with your boss or teacher so that they know what happened and why it was wrong of you. If possible, offer an apology and ask how they would like things handled moving forward so that no one else gets hurt by this mistake again (for example: “I’m sorry for what happened last week; I’ll try harder not let myself get distracted next time”).
12-step recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but also creating an opportunity for growth and self-discovery through the guidance of the steps
12-step recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but also creating an opportunity for growth and self-discovery through the guidance of the steps.
The 12 steps are a guide to help you on your journey, not a magic cure-all that will make all your problems disappear overnight. They are not religious in nature and do not require you to believe in any god or higher power; however, many people find that spirituality helps them with their recovery process. If this is something that interests you, we encourage you to explore your own beliefs about spirituality as part of this process!
It is important to remember that while 12-step programs can be very effective when used properly, they cannot replace professional help if needed.
In conclusion, 12-step recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but also creating an opportunity for growth and self-discovery through the guidance of the steps. The program offers a unique blend of spirituality and practical advice that can help anyone overcome their personal challenges with addiction or other life issues.