Introduction to the 12 Steps

The 12-step recovery program was originally created in the 1930s and has been successfully used by thousands struggling with addiction ever since. Originally designed for alcoholics, the program has been adapted over the years to other types of addictions, giving this program far-reaching benefits and results. If you are struggling with an addiction, now is the time to educate yourself about the 12 steps to determine whether this might be the right treatment program for you.

Step 1: Admit you are powerless over your addiction.

The first step is to overcome denial that is common with addiction and admit there is problem to address. Equally important is the acknowledgement that you are unable to control your addiction; instead, your addiction is controlling you.

Step 2: Acknowledge a greater power can restore your sanity.

Second is to acknowledge there is a power greater than you. This may be the traditional God or a god or higher power of your own making. The important component here is the admission that there is something bigger than you and that power can help you overcome your addiction.

Step 3: Turn over your will to the care of a higher power.

Once you acknowledge there is a higher power, the next becomes turning over control of the situation to that entity. This action step helps you to understand you cannot overcome your addiction on your own and puts you on the path to an enriching spiritual life.

Step 4: Make an inventory of yourself.

The fourth step involves self-reflection as you make up a list of your resentments, character flaws and defects, and people you have hurt along the way. By making this list, you effectively expose the issues that have led to your disease of addiction so that you can break free from them.

Step 5: Admitting wrongs to your higher power and others.

It is said that confession is good for the soul, which is the principle behind the fifth step. While it can be overwhelming to think about sharing this list with others, it is a very liberating process as you release the power these issues have had over you in the past.

Step 6: Prepare to have character defects removed by your higher power.

Now it is time to ask your higher power to remove your character defects that might have played a role in your addiction. You have now opened yourself up to the potential for change that is necessary if you are going to truly turn your life in a different direction – away from the bondage of addiction.

Step 7: Ask your higher power to remove shortcomings.

Humility is required when asking your higher power to remove your shortcomings or character flaws. This step helps you to release the self-centered fear that has become an ongoing part of your addiction so that you can experience peace and spiritual growth.

Step 8: Make a list of people you have harmed and prepare to make amends.

The eighth step involves taking responsibility for your actions and making amends with those who have been hurt by your addiction. This step requires honesty and the ability to see things from another’s point of view to identify the hurt that may have resulted.

Step 9: Make direct amends to people on the list whenever possible.

Once you have your list, it is time to make amends with those you can. If your efforts at amends would do more harm than good, you may make the decision to postpone or forgo face-to-face amends. These decisions are best made by you and someone you trust, such as your sponsor.

Step 10: Continue personal assessments and make amends as wrongs are identified.

The personal inventory step is not a one-time process. By continuing your personal inventory assessments periodically, you maintain the freedom that comes from admitting your wrongs and making amends for them.

Step 11: Use prayer and meditation to improve relationship with your higher power.

In addition to improving your relationship with other people, it is also beneficial to continuing work on your relationship with your higher power. Prayer, meditation or other activities that bring you closer to your higher power every day will nurture that relationship.

Step 12: Continue to live the principles and carry the message to others.

Even as you are living out the 12 steps in your own life, the program calls you to give back to others struggling with addiction. Volunteering to help out at meetings or sponsorship are just some of the ways you can give back.

The 12-step program has proven effective in helping many addicts turn away from their addictions and find new life in sobriety. However, the 12-step model may not be the best treatment approach for everyone. At West Coast Recovery Centers, we offer personalized treatment programs that may or may not include the 12-step principles to ensure we are reaching all of our patients on their own personal terms. To learn more about our treatment programs, contact West Coast Recovery Centers at 442-333-6199.

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