I thought it would be a good time to introduce one of the core foundations of sobriety in twelve step programs… the twelve steps. Because my drug of choice is alcohol, I am going to use Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as an example, but any other 12 step programs can be inserted throughout this demonstration. Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem. Since it began in 1935, AA has helped millions of men and women recover from alcoholism.
The twelve steps of AA are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole. The purpose of the twelve steps is to recover from compulsive behaviors and restore manageability to our lives. It works by encouraging us to incorporate honesty, humility, acceptance, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and self-discipline into our lives and in so doing, open up pathways to positive behavioral change, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth . The twelve steps are as follows:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step 11: 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.
Step 12: 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.
There is no way to complete the twelve steps in one day. In fact, it can take a year or more to complete the steps successfully. With that being said, I would like to give a summary of each of the steps because I know that they can help, and so that we are familiar with them going forward. Over the few blog posts we will take a look at each of the steps. By remaining sober, today you can begin to complete a twelve step program!