Addiction is a complex brain disorder that impacts those who suffer physically, emotionally, and socially. It also has negative effects on loved ones around him or her. Recovery can be achieved by participating in substance abuse treatment programs and peer support groups that foster hope, encouragement, and fruitful interactions.
These groups allow those with similar goals—such as becoming abstinent from drugs or gathering in a supportive—a safe environment favorable for sharing and healing. The 12-step program idea began with the advent of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), a program developed to support those struggling with alcohol addiction.
Step 1: Admitting That One is Powerless Over Addiction
Addiction is a chronic disease that manipulates brain chemistry and function, thereby affecting reward, motivation, and memory. The first step asks individuals to accept that they are unable to control their substance use, and their willpower and motivation have been compromised.
Moreover, when an individual battles addiction, he or she can no longer regulate the amount or frequency at which they use drugs or alcohol. Identification of this lack of control and by admitting powerlessness over addiction is usually the first step in the recovery process.
Step 2: Accepting There is a Power Greater than Oneself
The second step asks people to accept there is a higher power is necessary to restore sanity. This higher power is historically thought of as “God” but can exhibit many forms, In fact, for those who do not believe in a god, per se, this higher power can be something similar, such as the Earth or the Universe.
Step 3: Agreeing to Turn One’s Life Over to the Higher Power
Each person will have their own individual idea of who or what their higher power is and what it means to them. In step 3, participants are asked to turn their lives over to this power to assist them with healing and recovery. While the first two steps are primarily about insight and reflection, step 3 requires people to take action and improve their willingness to move forward.
Step 4: Taking a Moral Inventory
This moral inventory of oneself should be, above all, nothing less than fearless and soul-searching. Moreover, the individual should be motivated to overcome fears and be honest about their faults and weaknesses. Step 4 requires a substantial amount of list writing, as people are asked to identify events, feelings, thoughts, and past experiences that are challenging and troubling to think about.
This step includes introspection and self-reflection into how past events have impacted those close to the persons in addition to personal feelings related to these matters. Some people choose to write in a journal and may spend a significant amount of time on this step. Activities include engaging in writing, prayer or meditation, and receiving support from other people in their group.
Step 5: Admitting One’s Wrongdoing to the Higher Power, Oneself, and Others
In step 5, individuals will be asked to choose someone they trust to share thoughts, experiences, and feelings identified in step 4. People are encouraged to admit their weaknesses to the higher power and also seek forgiveness.
The thought of admitting to oneself or others the shortcomings that one possesses can be daunting. At this time, individuals are often humbled and begin to feel cleansed moving forward and leaving troubles in the past.
Step 6: Becoming Prepare for the Higher Power to Remove Character Defects
Step 6 is about freedom from adversity and the past and moving forward with the higher power’s support. People may meditate or pray and ask their higher power to absolve them of character defects and moral failings.
Participants may review their personal list of wrongdoings or write a new one. They then can choose healthier options with which to replace these deficits. For instance, deception can be replaced with honesty.
Step 7: Asking a Higher Power to Remove Shortcomings
Heavily founded in humility, step 7 directs participants to seek out the will of their higher power and employ it in their life. Humility is essential in recovery and is defined as the ability to think less of oneself than of others. Through humility and a focus on the will of one’s higher power, one can overcome character defects. Meditation is often helpful during this step as a means of self-introspection and to learn how to use humility in one’s life.
Step 8: Listing Wrongdoings and Finding the Will to Make Amends
During this step, people frequently begin to compose lists again to help promote forgiveness. The two lists featured in this step include (1) those who should be given mercy from the person and (2) those from whom the individuals need to seek forgiveness.
Addiction has a ripple effect, and those in recovery are encouraged to be thorough in their lists, as no one should be overlooked. Individuals are asked to consider any person in their life who they may have harmed either directly or indirectly as a consequence of their addiction, as well as to free themselves from past anger issues and resentments.
Step 9: Making Amends When It Does Not Cause Harm
Step 9 consists of individuals attempting to make amends for wrongdoings they have done to others. They are urged to contact these people and let them know that they would like to approach them to make amends.
In some instances, unfortunately, it is not possible to directly engage in these conversations without causing more harm. Instead, one can write a letter, email, or instant messenger the person or donate to a charity in another’s name or help someone else who is less fortunate as the person suffering.
During step 9, in general, people must apologize for behaviors committed while intoxicated with drugs or alcohol and for the devastation that their addiction has brought.
Step 10: Daily Accountability
In step 10, people continue to seek accountability for their actions and continue to examine how their thoughts and behaviors affect their everyday life and how to keep themselves in balance with their higher power. Participants are encouraged to make a daily inventory and immediately attempt to correct any wrongs that have been identified. This can be achieved by using a journal or other means of creative or evaluative self-expression.
Step 11: Praying to Improve Communication to the Higher Power and Carry out What Is Right
Journaling, prayer, and meditation are included in step 11 as persons utilize these tools to develop a spiritual connection with their higher power. When an individual is in tune with their higher power and aligned with them emotionally and physically, the spiritual connection is also bolstered. Journaling or writing down thoughts during this time can also be a great way to examine one’s thoughts and emotions further.
Step 12: Experiencing a Spiritual Awakening and Delivering the Message to Others
In this final step, individuals are asked to give back to others who are also struggling with addiction and to share their newly-found spirituality and support peers during their recovery. Participants are urged to share stories, feelings, and other struggles with others to promote encouragement and hope.
Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
The 12 steps of AA can be vital agents in the war against addiction, but they are not the only ones. Studies have found that outcomes are improved when patients also undergo detox followed by an intensive outpatient treatment that includes research-based approaches, such as behavioral therapy, group support, and counseling.
The caring and professional staff at Just Believe Recovery are experts in addiction and provide clients with the tools, education, and support needed to recover and maintain long-lasting wellness and sobriety. If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact us today!