What Are the 12 Steps of Addiction Recovery?

The 12-Step program for treating addiction is a well-known treatment that was designed for use in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The steps form a successive roadmap that can be used in conjunction with regular group meetings that help provide support and encouragement on the path to sobriety.

The original 12-Step program has been adapted for use in many different recovery programs due to its success in treating various kinds of addiction. The 12 steps form the basis for the program, providing goals that build on each other in order to create short-term gains with the goal of long-term sobriety.

What Are the 12 Steps?

1. Accepting that one is powerless over the addiction

A step that is common in many addiction treatment programs is first admitting that one has a problem. Without acknowledging the power the addiction has, it can be difficult to find the motivation to change. Thus, the first step is simply to accept your addiction – to admit that you are unable to control your drug and/or alcohol use. Only then will you be receptive to change.

2. Believing that a higher power or goal can help

The 12-Step program makes use of spirituality even though it’s not necessarily based on any one religion. The program encourages individuals to use their own version of a higher power – this could be God, Buddha, or something less specific like the universe. The second step is believing that this higher power or force greater than oneself can help aid in recovery.

3. Turning control over to the higher power

The second step primes the individual to continue on to the third step. After one accepts the belief that a higher power can help, the third step involves giving control to the higher power to help. This step is more action-focused and may involve enrolling in a treatment program if that is the will of the higher power, for instance. It also involves internalizing prayers and readings that may aid in recovery like the Serenity Prayer.

4. Taking a personal moral inventory

The moral inventory step can be a difficult one because it involves coming to terms with one’s own shortcomings and flaws. This comprehensive list is meant to be honest and fearless, and it can pinpoint areas in your life that need changing. The personal moral inventory requires sifting through thoughts, feelings, experiences, and behaviors and their subsequent consequences.

5. Admitting one’s wrongs to the higher power, oneself, and another person

In step 5 of the 12 steps, you are tasked with admitting your wrongdoings to yourself, a higher power, and a trusted confidante. After identifying someone to confide in, individuals share the behaviors and events catalogued in the moral inventory. People who are religious may find it helpful to confess to a priest or other member of the church.

This step is essential in beginning to open up to others, which can break the habits of being closed off and secretive that are inherent to addiction. The step can also help you feel like a weight has been lifted, which can be emotionally freeing.

6. Being ready to have the higher power fix one’s shortcomings

Step 6 involves letting in the higher power – be it God or something else – to fix your shortcomings. Some individuals may choose to turn to prayer to ask the higher being to remove and fix their shortcomings. Before moving on to the next step, one must acknowledge that they will need the higher power to achieve these changes.

7. Asking the higher power to remove one’s shortcomings

In step 7, individuals turn to God or other higher power to seek guidance on how to remove the identified shortcomings. Meditation and prayer may be helpful during this time, as you devote yourself to putting the higher power first above your own desires. This step is meant to teach humility and emphasizes that addiction cannot be overcome alone.

8. Making a list of persons hurt by one’s actions and being willing to make amends for those wrongs

Step 8 is another action-focused task that requires identifying people hurt by one’s actions. Since addiction can have disastrous effects on personal relationships, this step can help begin to mend some of those relationships by helping you take stock of people who have been affected by your addiction either directly or indirectly.

Identifying these instances can help you forgive yourself for those behaviors before asking others for forgiveness.

9. Making amends to those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person

The next step is to follow through with making amends to those who have been hurt by your actions. At this point in the program, individuals ask for forgiveness of others for behaviors and damage caused while under the influence or as a result of addiction. Making amends may involve offering restitution so that forgiveness and reconciliation is possible.

The only exception to this step would be instances when contacting someone to make amends would do more harm than good.

10. Continuing to take moral inventory and admitting when one is wrong

While steps 1-9 focus on past actions and behaviors, step 10 allows one to apply the same principles to their daily life after previous harm caused has been atoned for. You should continue to take a personal moral inventory of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors present in daily life in order to ensure that they are consistent with the goals of sobriety.

This step is about internalizing constant accountability for one’s actions, so that wrongs can be righted immediately. The practice can help keep you emotionally balanced and living according to your faith and goals.

11. Seeking connection with the higher power using prayer and meditation

Step 11 involves the use of prayer and meditation to connect more deeply with the higher power in order to strengthen yourself spiritually and emotionally. Self-examination is another helpful tool as one asks God for knowledge of his will for our lives and how to carry out that will. The resulting goal is a feeling that something more powerful is watching over us.

12. Helping others in need using the learned principles of the 12 Steps

The final step in the 12-Step program focuses on service. During this step, individuals are encouraged to help others struggling with addiction by sharing their own experiences, struggles, and recovery journey with others. For some people, this may involve becoming a sober sponsor for others or simply remaining active in AA meetings.

This step can give people a profound sense of purpose and satisfaction as they have a positive impact on other people’s lives.

12 Step Program FAQs

12 Step Addiction Recovery at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

As part of our comprehensive addiction treatment services, Riverwalk Ranch offers 12-Step meetings with a supportive network of peers. Our medical professionals believe that positive social influence is a great way to supplement one-on-one therapy for many kinds of addiction. If you’re looking for treatment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you will find a welcoming home here to help you overcome your substance abuse and addiction.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol or substance abuse and addiction, contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Whether Texas is your home or you’re looking to get away from your current environment, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive oasis for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life, and we want to help you get there.

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