The original 12 step formula was developed by Alcoholics Anonymous as a way for people to deal with their powerlessness over alcohol. Since then, other 12 step programs have evolved for a variety of addictions including Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, and Al-Anon.
All 12 step programs follow similar patterns. Members meet regularly to discuss their experiences, strength, and hope. One common view is that all members are dealing with an illness and an addiction rather than a bad habit or poor lifestyle. The idea is that recovery will occur by taking individual responsibility for one’s own recovery and relying on the will of a Higher Power while following the 12 steps.
One of the most widely recognized portions of a 12 step group is the requirement that members admit that they have a problem. That’s why many members open their addresses to the group with their name and the admission of their problem.
Attendees at group meetings share their experiences, challenges, successes, and failures. They also provide peer support for each other. Many people who have joined these groups say they found success that they were unable to find before.
The 12 steps as outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We have come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.
- We make a searching a fearless moral inventory of our lives and ourselves.
- We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcoming.
- We make a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends to all of them.
- We make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, we promptly admit it.
- Through prayer and meditation, we seek to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we carry this message to other addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Members of a 12 step program also make several promises to themselves and to others. These promises are:
- If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.
- We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
- We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
- We will comprehend the word “serenity” and we will know peace.
- No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experiences can benefit others.
- The feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
- We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellow man.
- Self-seeking will slip away.
- Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
- Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
- We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to challenge us.
- We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Opponents of 12 step programs are put off by the use of the words “Higher Power” and God in their steps and mottos. They say that this is pushing religion on people and is morally wrong if that person doesn’t believe in God in the same way as others do.
However, you should know that AA and other similar groups are not religious groups. That is why the verbage “Higher Power” is used along with the phrase “God, as we understand Him to be”. The purpose of 12 step programs is to simply deliver addicts from their destructive behaviors and help them become clean and sober. It is a spiritual program in nature, not a religious program.
Many people are apprehensive about appearing in front of strangers and sharing their most personal information. Please remember that 12 step programs are anonymous. Only your first name is shared.
If you live in a small town, you may worry that people will recognize you, but keep in mind that those other people are there for the same reason you are and they want to remain anonymous just like you. You may be surprised at the camaraderie you will find when you are with people who share the same experiences that you do.
One of the possible reasons you became addicted to drugs is due to low self-esteem. You need to address self-esteem issues early on in your recovery.
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We at Addiction Recovery Referrals know that it is very difficult to help a loved one with an addiction when he or she does not want help. Our staff is here to guide you through the difficult maze of recovery choices. These initial decisions are critical to your loved ones recovery as well as your family’s.