What Do the 12-Steps Involve?

If you are new to recovery and have recently been introduced to the 12-step programme of abstinence, you may be wondering exactly what is involved and what they mean for you.

Step 1 : We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

This is generally the hardest step because it is the one that requires the person to admit that alcohol has taken control of his or her life. However, admitting that you have no control over your drinking will allow you to move forward towards a clean and healthy sober life.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

The second step requires the individual to see that there is a solution to their drinking. It is about recognising that something else can help you to overcome your problems, be that God, your counsellor, sponsor, or fellowship group.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The third step is the process of making the decision to get help and begin healing. This means allowing someone or something else to take control of your life and help you to recover.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This is the first action step and is where the process of recovery actually begins. This step requires the individual to produce an honest document of his or her life, thus allowing the person to see his or her strengths and weaknesses.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Here, fellowship members are encouraged to talk about their experiences, as sharing can help with the healing process. You can share with your counsellor, sponsor or any other objective person.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Once weaknesses have been identified, you must be prepared to get rid of them in order to heal properly.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

If you are ready to get rid of your flaws and weaknesses, this is the time to make that happen. You will have to ask for these flaws to be removed, and that could be through prayer or meditation. It could also mean just asking aloud.

Step 8: Made a list of all person we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

This step involves writing a list of all the people who have been hurt by your actions. At this stage, you simply have to list the people and be willing to make amends with them.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Once you have your list compiled, you can start the process of making up for your past wrongdoings.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

This is the first maintenance step and requires the individual to work hard to maintain his or her sobriety going forward.

Step 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.

Step 11 requires you to continue in the knowledge that you will always be at risk of addiction and to understand that you cannot let it control you again.

Step 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.

Those who have completed the 12-steps are encouraged to spread the word and do all they can to help those who are in need of help.


  1. http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/About-AA/The-12-Steps-of-AA
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