A simplified explanation of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is part of Alcoholics Anonymous a 12 Step recovery program.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. We honestly admitted we were powerless over alcohol and sincerely wanted to do something about it. Without the first step there is no chance of recovery. We must quit for our self, not someone else. We must admit our life is unmanageable around alcohol/substance abuse/addiction.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We asked and received help from a power greater than ourselves and another human being. In almost all cases that power is called God. It is however, God as we understand Him/Her or whatever Higher Power (HP) you choose to accept. Looking into the past we discover that our attempts to give up alcohol through our own will power have always failed.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. We have found that by giving up planning, by letting each day take care of itself – and it always will – we have been able to keep sober. We start the day by deciding to stay sober for 24 hours and ask HP for help, and at the end of the day thank HP for the help. This is the first step in turning our will and lives over to HP as we understand Him/Her.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Again we come to a step that requires courage. One of the chief reasons for drinking was to escape from ourselves. We were afraid of our own thoughts and knew we could escape from them through alcohol/substances. What do we find by taking a moral inventory of ourselves – fear, resentment and our wrongs. We were afraid to face facts. We were afraid of our jobs, afraid of our families, afraid of responsibility. To admit our wrongs to another person may sound insurmountable, however the AA member will pave the way by first telling his story. The newcomer will be amazed at his frankness, at the ease with which he tells of usually unmentioned escapades, which will then prepare the newcomer to share his/her inventory.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. We find a very logical sequence. Having analyzed ourselves, we find it makes sense to right what we have wronged. If we have taken the 4th step we have already fulfilled part of the 5th Step. For a calm diagnosis of ourselves brings our defects, our resentments, our fears and our part in the wrongs. We also look at the damage we have done to ourselves and then share this with a sponsor.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. But how do we ask a HP to remove our defects of character? We do this by willingness. As we see others in AA with contentedness, freedom from fear, happiness, serenity and peace, we see they have taken this step and see their results. We want what they have. If we do not have the willingness we act “as if.”
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Firstly, we need humility and then confidence that a HP will remove these defects of character in HP’s time not ours. As long as we have the willingness to go to any lengths and ask for help in removing those defects, we will achieve success in due time.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. As the AA member shares his secrets that he would never tell a soul, his mind becomes unburdened of the huge weight he has been carrying. The AA member then feels that he “belongs.” He then becomes ready to make the amends.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. It is at this point that we begin the physical act of rehabilitation. It is where we clean up our lives and begin anew. We start by paying back our physical debts and then emotional debts. There are friends and loved ones we have hurt or harmed and if that is the case, we apologize for our alcoholic behavior and make living amends. If it would cost more harm making direct amends, then we figure out a way to make amends differently. We also need to make amends to ourselves for our alcoholic behavior!
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. After quite a few months of sobriety, we find our problems more mental than physical. So it is important to take personal inventory at the moment and at the end of the day. Perhaps we find ourselves criticizing or resenting another then we take a spot check inventory and change our thinking. However, bear in mind that it is progress not perfection.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. Maybe, for the first time in your life, you are giving of yourself with no rewards. You will waken in the morning with clear eyes and heart. You will not be tortured with fears of what you did the night before. When you meditate and pray on this new way of living, you cannot but realize there is a HP who has relieved you one day at a time from alcohol and that you are being guided through each successive day and night.
- 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. The spiritual awakening comes about by releasing the alcohol to a HP and in following the 12 Steps of AA. These steps are not to be gone through once and forgotten. They are a set of rules for living that must be practiced at all times, never forgotten. Furthermore, we need to remember to practice these principles in all our affairs, not just with other recovering alcoholics!
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous Copyright (1981). Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-121_en.pdf