The first time I experienced an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting and was exposed to the 12 Steps was during my Undergraduate program for a class in Substance Abuse Education. One of the requirements of this class was to attend at least 2 AA meetings and write about our experience. The next time I was exposed to AA and the 12 Steps was when I began my Internship.
The treatment facility where I work (which is the facility I completed my internship at) is a 12 Step based program that encourages clients to incorporate the concepts of the 12 Steps into their recovering program. These 12 Steps act as a guide for those who are on the journey of recovery and the principles of these steps are reinforced through attending AA meetings, having a Sponsor and developing a healthy relationship with the recovering community.
The 12 Steps of AA are as follows:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
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
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 out gifts
Some individuals tend to feel discouraged as the word “God” is mentioned, however I encourage my clients to think of their Higher Power (whatever that may be) when they work on the Steps. The program of AA was founded on religious principles, which would explain the focus on prayer, meditation and the mention of “God.” You can read a lot more about the timeline and history of AA on their website.
I hope that these 12 Steps can have a significant positive impact on your life, whether you are in recovery or not.
Stepladder image available from Shutterstock