The 12 Steps of AA Explained

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Have you ever wondered what a 12 Step program includes? Find out more about the 12 Steps of AA

If you, or a loved one, is struggling with alcoholism or alcohol abuse, you most likely have heard about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the work they do. But, have you had the 12 steps of AA explained to you before? Do you know what they mean?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship founded with the main and primary focus of helping alcoholics stay sober and – at the same time – help others achieve sobriety after struggling with alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

The program itself has gained international recognition, not only because of the services it offers, but to its success with people that have struggled with alcoholism for years at a time.

A downside is that it is pretty difficult to break down in actual numbers the rate of success and participants, due to the high confidentiality and anonymity that the program offers recovering addicts.

Part of what makes the program work, is the spiritual and moral approach the AA 12 steps tackle. The 12 steps of AA are intended to help the person “disengage” from external issues, influences and stimulants (like alcohol) and look inside themselves to find strength, courage and peace.

In order to have the 12 steps of AA explained, we must look at their actual wording:

  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 doing 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 our affairs.

While AA 12 steps may seem very spiritual to many, and some have even considered it too much of a religious approach, the program’s goal is to help the person work on his or her individual needs through principles that can overcome the actual desire to use or rely on a substance; in the case of AA, alcohol. It is said in many programs, since people do have differing beliefs that “God” may be thought of as whatever you believe in, even if your higher power is a tree. The verbiage is not meant to push a certain religion through the steps by any means—it’s actually far from its intention.

Moreover, AA 12 steps call for self-examination, and self-awareness, and self-monitoring, which in traditional psychotherapy is key to be able to admit to having an addiction problem, wanting things to change and refocusing on the person’s own well-being.

The AA 12 Steps approach has influenced the way many rehabilitation programs are offered, including the implementation of a 12-step therapy modality, through which recovering addicts participate in groups where abstinence is practiced and promoted.

If you would like to learn more about the 12 Steps of AA, or you want to find out how you can find help looking for programs for yourself or a loved one, call us at (800) 429-7690.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-4

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-121_en.pdf