The 12 Steps of AA
In Alcoholics Anonymous, better known as AA, there is a clear outline with 12 steps to recovery. A 12-Step program can be a helpful tool when ending an addiction to alcohol or any other dangerous substance. The 12 Steps are employed in all types of facilities and programs, and they can be successful for both ongoing recovery and relapse prevention.
How the 12 Steps Work
A 12-Step program is designed to be a strategy for abstinence that requires active engagement. This means that patients can’t get better on their own. They have to be engaged and actively seek to improve their lives, their health and their futures.
There are three major ideas that make up the effectiveness of 12-Step programs. To start, individuals have to acknowledge that addiction isn’t something they can control. Abstinence from the substance in question, whether drugs or alcohol, is a necessity.
The second critical component of a 12-Step program is accepting help, both from a higher power and from a support system of peers. Participants in a 12-Step program don’t have to be religious, but they do need to understand that recovery can’t happen in a solo environment.
The third element of a 12-Step program, and a crucial part of its effectiveness, is personal involvement. The program can’t work unless participants follow the outline and get involved. More importantly, group meetings are critical to success.
One of the ways that 12-Step programs are able to be so successful around the world is their consistency. The format of meetings remains the same anywhere on the planet, and the 12 individual steps are identical whether they are applied in London or in Los Angeles. People will also have the flexibility to attend meetings anywhere and know that the outline, and the anonymity, will be the same across the board.
Where 12-Step Programs are Used
It is possible to find 12-Step programs in countless cities and countries around the world. These programs are free to join, and they can be held in church basements, libraries, schools and workplaces in virtually any destination imaginable. Often, 12-Step programs are part of a more comprehensive plan for recovery in addiction treatment centers.
There are many ways that addiction treatment facilities can utilize the 12 Steps. To start, some programs choose to have 12-Step meetings right on their premises. Patients can all attend, following the general guidelines of a 12-Step program and working through the steps as usual.
It is also possible that participants in an addiction treatment program can supplement on-site therapy and treatment with off-site 12-Step meetings. This allows for direct treatment as well as the development of a lasting support network. Even after the treatment program has ended, patients continue to attend local 12-Step meetings in their home community.
Outlining the 12 Steps
The 12 Steps are, quite literally, 12 individual steps that should be completed in chronological order. Individuals who decide to pursue this program can complete each step in whatever time frame works best for them. Some may speed through the steps in days, other may take months working through each step before going on to the next.
The 12 Steps are as follows:
1. Admit that you have no control over alcohol and that your life is unmanageable.
This achieves two goals–it reminds individuals that they didn’t choose their addiction, and it exposes that no one can have complete control over their life.
2. Believe in a power greater than yourself that may restore your sanity.
Understand that no one can achieve lifelong sobriety on their own.
3. Turn your will and life into God’s care as you understand Him.
Many people find comfort in some sort of spirituality during the process of recovering from an addiction.
4. Make a moral inventory of yourself.
It is vital not to play the victim. Understanding your flaws can help you to recover successfully.
5. Admit the exact nature of your wrongs.
Getting specific about your past acts can free you from lingering guilt, shame or embarrassment.
6. Be ready to allow God to remove your character flaws.
Know that you are a work in progress, and that you can change.
7. Humbly ask Him to remove your shortcomings.
This can be done through prayer, meditation or simply by convening with nature.
8. Make a list of the people you’ve hurt and be willing to make amends with all of them.
Address specific actions where you might have wronged someone.
9. Make direct amends with those you’ve hurt where possible unless doing so would hurt them or others.
Make contact with those you may have harmed and take action to fix or resolve any lingering problems from the past.
10. Continue taking inventory of your morals and admit being wrong when you’re wrong.
Admit that even now, you are flawed. Recovery is ongoing, and it can’t just apply to the past.
11. Seek to improve your contact with God through prayer and meditation of His will for you.
Continue your spiritual development through whatever means are most effective for you.
12. Carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in everything that you do.
Finally, a principle of the program is to share knowledge with others. This helps other people struggling with addiction, and it can also go a long way in preventing relapse.
Establishing the Groundwork for Lasting Recovery
While the 12 Steps are a fantastic element of recovery, they aren’t the only element. A comprehensive approach to addiction is necessary for lasting sobriety and freedom from addiction.
Often, individuals find the best results when 12-Step programs are part of a larger addiction treatment curriculum. A 12-Step meeting might be combined with behavioral therapy, pharmacological treatment or dual diagnosis treatment, if necessary. Individuals can choose from residential, 24/7 care, or they might opt for more flexible programs such as partial hospitalization, outpatient care and intensive outpatient care.
In the fight against an alcohol addiction, the 12 Steps can be one critical key to lasting sobriety and recovery that can be sustained for a lifetime.