Content Reviewed by Jennifer Wheeler, Clinical & Community Outreach for New Life

Those in the recovery community have likely heard of the 12-Step philosophy. Many addiction treatment centers utilize this philosophy as an effective set of guidelines for recovering from substance use disorder (SUD) and behavioral addictions, such as gambling or gaming.

These guidelines were created alongside the community-based Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program. AA, and the associated Twelve Steps, were developed by Bill Wilson, who was struggling with alcoholism at the time, and his physician, Doctor Bob Smith, in 1935. Twelve Step programs have since expanded to be used in recovery from many things beyond just alcohol addiction.

Despite many people appreciating the value of these steps for those seeking treatment and recovery from addiction, many lack the knowledge of what each step truly entails. This article gives a brief overview of each of the Twelve Steps.

#1: Admitting Powerlessness

Step one calls for individuals to admit their powerlessness over their addiction. They must recognize that their substance use or behavioral addiction is beyond their control and acknowledge the consequences they have experienced in their life as a result of it.

#2: Finding Hope

Step two encourages individuals to find hope “in a power greater than themselves.” It is important to understand that although God is often utilized as a higher power, a power greater than oneself can mean many things besides God. It can be nature, humanity or even the universe itself. This step also asks individuals to believe that their higher power can help them work toward recovery.

#3: Surrendering

Step three calls for individuals to make the decision to turn their lives over to their higher power, God or otherwise, as they understand it.

#4: Taking Inventory

Step four involves intimate reflection. It asks individuals to take a personal moral inventory of themselves without fear and to recognize the consequences that may have resulted from their substance use or other addictive behaviors.

#5: Sharing Inventory

Step five has individuals admit their wrongdoings to themselves, their higher power and peers in recovery. They have to recognize the full extent of the consequences of their addiction and make a commitment to not do the same in the future.

#6: Becoming Ready

Step six calls for individuals to be entirely ready to have their higher power “remove all these defects of character.” In other words, this step asks individuals to let go of any behaviors, attitudes and emotions that have become barriers to achieving sobriety and recovery.

#7: Removing Shortcomings

Step seven recognizes that individuals cannot overcome their shortcomings without the help of a higher power. This step requires humility and the ability to recognize one’s own weaknesses, limitations and defects while asking their higher power to help them shed these shortcomings.

#8: Making a List

Step eight calls for individuals to make a list of other individuals they may have harmed as a result of their addiction. This step also asks individuals to be willing to make amends with those they have hurt.

#9: Making Direct Amends

Whereas step eight involves reflection, step nine requires action. The ninth step asks individuals to make direct amends to those they have hurt. This step helps individuals to heal from any guilt or regret they may experience because of harmful things said and done during active addiction.

#10: Continuing Personal Inventory

Step 10 recognizes that in all healing journeys, there must be a time to reflect on progress and continue to expand on growth. This step calls for individuals to continue to reflect and take personal inventory when they are wrong. Essentially, this step encourages deeper awareness of triggers and overcoming automatic responses for the purpose of personal improvement.

#11: Deepening Relationship to Higher Power

Step 11 encourages individuals in recovery to deepen their connection to, and understanding of, their higher power. This step involves prayer, mindfulness or meditation to help bring greater awareness to one’s burdens, wrongdoings and ability to ask for help.

#12: The Spiritual Awakening

Step twelve is both self-serving and selfless, involving a spiritual awakening as a result of the 12-Step philosophy. This step encourages individuals to share the power of these steps with others seeking recovery from addiction. Similarly, it calls individuals to use these principles to guide their lifelong journey of recovery to find sanity, sustain sobriety and enjoy life as it occurs.

The Twelve Steps in Recovery

Every treatment center that utilizes 12-Step programming does so uniquely. For example, some treatment centers offer 12-Step groups as a part of inpatient, outpatient or continuing care. Others may offer free 12-Step support group meetings for those who are curious to learn more about the benefits of recovery.

All in all, the Twelve Steps are meant to not only help individuals achieve and sustain sobriety but find deeper purpose and meaning in their lives while doing so. These guidelines are valuable for those seeking recovery because it allows them to take accountability and responsibility for their lives with the help and support of the entire recovery community.

New Life Addiction Counseling and Mental Health Services believes in the power of the 12-Step approach to help individuals overcome their addiction. We offer 12-Step groups during inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and continuing care programs. To learn more about the value of 12-Step programming or to learn more about our treatment facility, call us today at (877) 929-2571.