The 12 Steps of AA were established by AA founders Bill W. and Dr. Bob in 1935 as a way to help alcoholics reach sobriety.
Those steps have helped not only alcoholics recover, but they formed the basis of treatment programs for other issues, too.
Codependence, gambling, narcotics, and debtors recovery programs all use 12 steps similar to what those two men created 83 years ago.
Keep reading to learn more about the steps to recovery and how they can help you or your loved ones.
The First Steps of AA
The 12 Steps of AA have their roots in Christianity, as the precursor to AA, the Oxford Group was an organization developed to bring faith back to the masses after World War I.
Even though there the 12 steps are rooted in Christianity, they have helped millions of people of all denominations and beliefs.
When Bill originally wrote the steps of AA, there were only six of them.
These six steps were:
- We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.
- We made an inventory of our defects or sins.
- We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.
- We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.
- We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.
- We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts.
These steps were used to help hundreds of people recover from addiction, but the founders of AA realized that improvements could be made.
The 12 Steps of AA
In 1935, Bill expanded on the steps, making them 12 steps. He did this with the purpose of eliminating any potential loopholes in the minds of alcoholics trying to justify their behavior and their will to have one more drink.
The 12 steps are:
- We admitted we were powerless over our separation from God–that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a power higher than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
- Made a list of persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- 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.
It’s in these steps that guide people recovering from addiction find a path to recovery.
Living the 12 Steps of AA
If you’ve ever tried to make any sort of change in your life, you’ll know that there’s a big difference between reading the 12 steps and applying them in your life.
Here’s how you can do so to get on the path to recovery.
The first step in AA is to admit that you’re powerless over your addiction. The reason why this is the most powerful step is that it’s where you acknowledge that you need help.
It’s a humbling step because you admit that you are no longer in control.
Help can come in many forms, such as an addiction recovery program or by attending AA meetings and getting a sponsor who’s been through recovery.
In the second step, you come to believe that there’s something beyond you that you can turn to.
That can be God, the universe, collective consciousness, or any spiritual being that it the dominant energy or force of the universe. You know that you’re not doing this alone and you have an open mind.
In the third step, you let go and let God. That’s a way of saying you turn over your doubts, fears, troubles, and joys over to Him.
Step 4 in AA requires that you take an honest look at yourself. You take the time to discover what emotions are behind your addiction.
In Step 5, you admit to someone what you did and what you found about yourself. This is done with someone you trust who will not judge you.
You’ll then accept your willingness to change in Step 6. It’s important to let go of self-judgment in this step.
Step 7 asks that you rely on your Higher Power to remove those defects from your life. This part is not an overnight process, but rather a lifelong journey.
The list of those you hurt, which is made in Step 8, forces you to acknowledge that you’ve hurt others.
Step 9 is one of the hardest steps because you have to take responsibility for your actions and come face to face with those you hurt.
In Step 10, you look at your everyday actions. You assess what you can do better in reacting to situations and start to change your daily habits and behaviors.
Through prayer and meditation, you find harmony and peace with God. This leads to a peaceful, emotionally stable life.
In Step 12, you keep going and help others in their journey.
The thing about AA is that you constantly work the steps. It’s not like studying for an exam, where you work your way through a program and when you’re done, you’re recovered.
The 12 steps of AA are fluid and dynamic. You’re always working on them. You might be working on Step 5 and realize you need to revisit Step 4.
These steps take a lifetime to master and the more you work the steps, the more likely you remain in recovery and not relapse.
The 12 steps of AA are the basis of recovery for millions of people.
You can apply these steps in your life, which forces you to live in a spiritually free place. The steps also ask you to do the hard stuff, too like take a candid look at yourself.
In recovery, you can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re here to help. We offer dozens of recovery programs for you today.
You can call us at (949) 259-5215 today to see how we help you or loved one.