Though the original Twelve Steps of AA have been adapted over time, the premise of each step remains the same for all recovery programs that use a 12-step model.6
By exploring the steps in depth and seeing how others have applied the principles in their lives, you can use them to gain insight into your own experiences, and to gain strength and hope for your own recovery. The steps and their principles are:
- Honesty: After many years of denial, recovery can begin with one simple admission of being powerless over alcohol or any other drug a person is addicted to. Their friends and family may also use this step to admit their loved one has an addiction.
- Faith: Before a higher power can begin to operate, you must first believe that it can. Someone with an addiction accepts that there is a higher power to help them heal.
- Surrender: You can change your self-destructive decisions by recognizing that you alone cannot recover; with help from your higher power, you can.
- Soul searching: The person in recovery must identify their problems and get a clear picture of how their behavior affected themselves and others around them.
- Integrity: Step 5 provides great opportunity for growth. The person in recovery must admit their wrongs in front of their higher power and another person.
- Acceptance: The key to Step 6 is acceptance—accepting character defects exactly as they are and becoming entirely willing to let them go.
- Humility: The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, or asking a higher power to do something that cannot be done by self-will or mere determination.
- Willingness: This step involves making a list of those you harmed before coming into recovery.
- Forgiveness: Making amends may seem challenging, but for those serious about recovery, it can be a great way to start healing your relationships.
- Maintenance: Nobody likes to admit to being wrong. But it is a necessary step in order to maintain spiritual progress in recovery.
- Making contact: The purpose of Step 11 is to discover the plan your higher power has for your life.
- Service: The person in recovery must carry the message to others and put the principles of the program into practice in every area of their life.