Do you know someone who needs help recovering from addiction? Or, do you need help yourself?

If so, we have good news: your help is here. Below is a complete guide that tells you everything you need to know about the 12 steps and 12 step programs.

Of all the alcohol/drug recovery programs that exist, the 12 steps are the most widely used recovery method. Plus, it’s straightforward, making it one of the easiest-to-apply methods there are. It also has a comparably high success rate.

Your journey down this 12-step road to recovery starts here. Please read this guide to learn more about this process and how it works.

What Is a 12 Steps Program?

The benefits of 12 step programs are twofold. The program itself is basically a strategic reprogramming of the mind.

It guides recovering individuals into a new, healthy mindset—a mindset not dependent on addiction. The steps are rules that provide the structure for this reprogramming.

Beyond this, the 12 step programs also provide a strong network of support for recovering addicts. That is, they meet regularly with others like themselves so they can encourage each other together. This support gives recovering addicts a better chance of breaking free from their addictions.

What Are the 12 Steps?

Now, let’s break down these 12 steps and look at each one individually. The steps are followed in this order, each one building off of the last. 

1. Honesty

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

The first step is being honest about the situation. Addicts admit that they are powerless against their addictions and that their lives are out of control.

This perspective defines addiction as a disease rather than a behavior. It’s this definition that is the entire basis of the 12-step recovery model.

Note that not everyone agrees with this approach. But many have used this model to achieve success in recovery nonetheless.

2. Hope

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 2 indoctrinates the belief that external power is stronger than the individual’s own will to recover. This “Higher Power” is strong enough to restore the addict to a healthy state of sobriety. 

3. Faith

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 3 states that individuals must understand and learn to rely on this Higher Power to recover. In this step, the Higher Power is specifically named “God.”

As such, steps 2 and 3 are another cause for controversy in the field of recovery. It’s understood among members of this program that this God doesn’t necessarily refer to the diety of any particular religion.

But atheists, agnostics, and those devoid of pre-existing spiritual beliefs might find it difficult to accept this step. For these, an alternative program might be more beneficial.

4. Courage

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

The first three steps have now laid the foundation. In step 4, the recovering addict begins a thorough self-examination. This involves letting go of fear and taking an honest, objective look at their addiction history.

5. Integrity

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Now, the individual communicates the information they gained in step 4 to his/herself, to God, and at least one other person. This breaks the power of the shame and isolation that keep the person addicted.

6. Willingness

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Next, the addict agrees to let go of the behaviors communicated in step 5 once and for all. This does not mean that the addict uses willpower to stop these behaviors.

Rather, they still rely on God to restore them to sobriety. Step six means agreeing to this arrangement.

7. Humility

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 7 is where the individual specifically involves God, asking Him to remove the offending behaviors. This strengthens the idea that it is God, not the individual, who is responsible for removing the addiction. In turn, this humility prevents the discouraging idea that the addict’s own weakness makes their recovery impossible.

8. Brotherly Love

Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 8 is similar to step 4. Only this time, the addict examines the specific ways that their addiction has harmed other people. The individual then makes a list of people to whom they can try and make amends.

9. Justice

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Now, the list from step 8 is employed. The recovering individual goes through the list, one person at a time, and attempts to reconcile with them. This involves a spoken apology, some effort to fix the damage, and a request for forgiveness.

10. Perseverance

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Essentially, step 10 entails repeating steps 4-9 in an ongoing process. This keeps the individual from thinking that they’re “done.” That would lead them to quit the program and probably to relapse.

11. Spirituality

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.

Remember, this program is based on the idea of relying on a Higher Power. If the recovering addict forgets this, they revert to willpower and are likely to relapse. So, step 11 is an effort to stay connected with God through prayer and listening/meditation.

12. Service

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.

Step 12 is actually two steps in one. It means continuing to do steps 1-11 as well as helping other recovering addicts achieve sobriety.

How Likely Are 12 Steps Members to Succeed?

So, what’s the bottom line on how successful 12-step programs are? You have undoubtedly heard critics on both sides of the argument make claims and list statistics.

Unfortunately, a solid success rate is difficult to determine for many reasons. For one thing, anonymity is an important part of this program. Therefore, any data that could be gained is, instead, “off the record.”

Furthermore, each case of addiction/recovery is unique and complex. For each recovering individual, there are hundreds of factors that can contribute to their success or failure.

Thus, it ultimately depends on the individual. That is, their success relies on finding a recovery program that works for them and sticking with it.

Get Help Now

If you need more information about 12 steps programs or other addiction recovery programs, we’re here to help. Learn more and get the help you need by contacting us here. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer your call.

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