The Twelve Steps

A Guide Toward an Entire New Way of Life

Group therapy session
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The Twelve Steps, originated by Alcoholics Anonymous, is the spiritual foundation for personal recovery from the effects of alcoholism, not only for the alcoholic, but also for their friends and family in Al-Anon Family Groups.

Many members of 12-step recovery programs have found that these steps were not merely a way to stop drinking, but they became a guide toward a new way of life.

Whereas 12-step meetings are the "fellowship" part of the mutual support groups, the twelve steps themselves are the essence of the actual program, or the "directions" that provide members a path that leads to lasting sobriety and a drug-free lifestyle.

As explained in Chapter 5 "How It Works," in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the steps provide a "suggested" program of recovery that worked for the early members of A.A. and continued to work through the years for many others regardless of their drug or behavior of choice.

Experience, Strength, and Hope

Over a six-month period, visitors to the site participated in a discussion of the 12 steps and 12 traditions by sharing their experience, strength, and hope. Their stories provide great insight into how they have applied the principles in their lives. Below are links to their study of the 12 steps. The index for the study of the 12 traditions is on this page.

Step 1: Honesty
After many years of denial, recovery can begin when with one simple admission of being powerless over alcohol -- for alcoholics and their friends and family.

Step 2: Faith
It seems to be a spiritual truth, that before a higher power can begin to operate, you must first believe that it can.

Step 3: Surrender
A lifetime of self-will run riot can come to a screeching halt, and change forever, by making a simple decision to turn it all over to a higher power.

Step 4: Soul Searching
There is a saying in the 12-step programs that recovery is a process, not an event. The same can be said for this step -- more will surely be revealed.

Step 5: Integrity
Probably the most difficult of all the steps to face, Step 5 is also the one that provides the greatest opportunity for growth.

Step 6: Acceptance
The key to Step 6 is acceptance -- accepting character defects exactly as they are and becoming entirely willing to let them go.

Step 7: Humility
The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, asking a higher power to do something that cannot be done by self-will or mere determination.

Step 8: Willingness
Making a list of those harmed before coming into recovery may sound simple. Becoming willing to actually make those amends is the difficult part.

Step 9: Forgiveness
Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be great medicine for the spirit and soul.

Step 10: Maintenance
Nobody likes to admit to being wrong. But it is absolutely necessary to maintain spiritual progress in recovery.

Step 11: Making Contact
The purpose of Step 11 is to discover the plan God as you understand Him has for your life.

Step 12: Service
For those in recovery programs, practicing Step 12 is simply "how it works."

See also: The Twelve Traditions

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