I’m sure many of you have heard of the 12 steps before. It is part of the largest and oldest recovery fellowship on earth, Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous commonly referred to as A.A has helped spawn various other recovery fellowships that follow the same guidelines. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (N.A) and Cocaine Anonymous (C.A) focus more on drug addiction than alcoholism, but the meaning and purpose behind the 12 steps stays the same.
Bill Wilson, one of the founders of A.A began working on The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 steps in the mid-1930’s. With the help of his friend Dr. Bob they put together the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am going to help you break down the 12 steps and explain them in modern terms. If you are addict please just replace the word “drink” with “drug” or “alcohol” with “heroin or pills”, do the same with any similar words so it applies to you.
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The 12 Steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. – Pretty much this means that when you drink you don’t have control. You don’t go out and have one beer you have 12. You find yourself drinking even when you don’t want to drink, you have had consequences due to your drinking and it hasn’t made you change. Alcohol dictates your day, you have no control over your drinking.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This doesn’t have to be “God”, it can be anything greater than you. It can be the group of Alcoholics Anonymous, it can be a close friend or family member, just anything or anyone that is greater than you. You need to know that you are not all knowing and all powerful, there is something or someone out there that can help you with your alcoholism. Give a little faith and put some hope into that person/thing.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. Like I said before, you don’t need to find a “God” as in the religious sense, this book was written in the 1930’s a lot has changed since then. Just give up trying to do what you think is best and let someone or something help guide you in your decisions.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. This isn’t going to be easy but once you’re done you’ll feel better. Write down all the people that have hurt you or angered you in the past. You don’t need to scavenge the deepest parts of your memory, just focus on people that you still think of on a weekly/monthly basis. Write those things down and figure out what your part was in that situation. We’re not perfect, figure out the flaws in yourself that made that situation come about
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. You know that list you just made of all the people that upset you or pissed you off? Good, take that list and read it out loud, either to a person or just out loud to the higher power you chose.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Hate to break it to you but you’re not perfect, you maybe close to it but you’re not there yet.You should’ve noticed some character defects or negative attributes about yourself while going through the 4th step. You’re ready to try and change those things. This won’t happen overnight, it may not happen over the next 365 nights. It’s about trying to make a change to better yourself and those around you.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. – Find your higher-power and ask them to help you remove these shortcomings from your life.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. During your alcoholism chances are you have done some damage to many personal and professional relationships. It’s time to make another list, this time of the people you harmed. This can be physically, mentally, emotionally or financially. If you were a negative force of destruction in this person’s life then chances are you owe them an amends. An amends is a fancy word for an apology, you need to be ready and willing to approach these people and admit your wrong doings.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. You made your list of amends and now you are starting the amends process. It’s always best to do this face to face if that’s not possible a phone call or something similar will do.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Once again you’re not perfect, you will continue to make mistakes because you are human. What is different now is that you will try to notice your mistakes faster and right your wrong as fast as possible.
- 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. Yes, I know, a lot of mention of God in these 12 steps. All step 11 is about you becoming closer with a higher power but more importantly closer with yourself. You are continuously working on becoming a better person.
- 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. You’ve completed 11 out of 12 of the steps, you should feel a lot better, you may even feel like a whole new person. It’s time to give back. When you started these 12 steps you were probably lost and hopeless, there are millions of people out there who still struggle. It’s time to go help them.
It’s strongly suggested that you get a sponsor to help guide you through the 12 steps. Going about this alone can be difficult and can get a bit confusing. Get involved in your local fellowship, A.A meetings are held in every state in the United States and in hundreds of other countries throughout the world.
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