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Explaining 12-Step Programs

Addiction support groups and treatment centers utilize 12-Step programs to help those struggling with addiction as they go through recovery. These programs lay out a definitive list of actions to gradually move the person forward towards a life of sobriety.

Step One

“Admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step One is all about admitting that addiction is beyond your control and the way you have been living your life just isn’t working. After accepting this, the person is more likely to accept help and enter recovery.

There are two words that are crucial for this step: powerless and unmanageable. Understand that you are powerless to addiction, as it is a chronic disease. You can work to treat and manage it, but it will never be cured. Addiction causes your life to be unmanageable. Better decisions must be made to live a healthy and fulfilling life of sobriety.

Step Two

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This step is about hope and being able to gain guidance and strength outside of yourself. You must put aside your ego to accept help from a higher power. This doesn’t necessarily mean religion — it could also be fate, karma, your sponsor, or even the recovery process itself. Finding inspiration to help you stay sober outside of yourself is crucial to your recovery.

Step Three

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Again, this is not about religion, but “God as we understood Him.” This refers to whatever your higher power is. This step is more about action by getting out of your own way and placing your faith in the higher power. You are less likely to give in to urges when you are putting faith in something other than yourself.

Step Four

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

This step helps you to eliminate denials and justifications. You cannot change without knowing what needs to be changed. Take an in-depth inventory of yourself that is open and honest. Being vulnerable can be difficult, but you must be ready to acknowledge your faults and properly analyze them to recover.

Step Five

“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

This step is crucial after taking a personal inventory, as it discusses the things you have learned about yourself during the process with someone else. This step can relieve you of guilt and shame by putting these things out in the open. As the saying goes, confession is good for the soul.

Step Six

“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

This step involves releasing all of the past behaviors and attitudes you analyzed in the previous steps, which changes your perspective and moves you more forward towards recovery.

Step Seven

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

This step is reminiscent of the third step but is more specific. Here, you learn the virtue of humility by admitting that your way of living wasn’t healthy or right. You recognize your flaws and limits in order to understand the power that your higher power holds. Your higher power can change your life in ways you cannot.

Step Eight

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

This step helps you understand how your actions hurt others. By taking the perspective away from yourself and focusing on how addiction affects those around you, you are reminded of the ways you hurt your loved ones. Here, you will confront the guilt associated with your addiction to prepare to make amends.

Step Nine

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

This step requires you to show your willingness to make amends with those you have hurt by asking for forgiveness. Have courage when facing those you hurt when you were in the midst of addiction. However, do not put yourself or others in harm’s way when doing this, such as experiencing further trauma or implicating others in a criminal act.

Step Ten

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Step Ten is about continual growth by reinforcing the lessons of the preceding steps. Here, you focus on consistently improving yourself instead of making excuses and giving up. This step works to prevent you from ever going back to using or drinking again.

Step Eleven

“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.”

A spiritual step, this is about talking and listening to your higher power. Prayer and meditation show an active effort in trying to understand the path that your higher power has made for you. Set aside your ego and listen.

Step Twelve

“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.”

This step is all about being selfless and helping your own sobriety by helping others who are struggling. It reminds you of where you came from. By helping others, you will have a sense of purpose and help those in need through empathizing.

Camelback Recovery offers a 12-Step program to help its residents recognize and overcome their addictions. These sober living homes are changing lives through the use of fellowship, recovery coaching, therapy, sober companions, and more by providing an independent living home with structure. Those in recovery can learn to manage their life on their own, and the 12-Steps help with this in many ways. To learn more, call Camelback Recovery today at (602) 466-9880.