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The Twelve Steps: What 12 Step Program Is Right For You?

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In order to talk about the twelve steps, we must first understand what they mean. What are the twelve steps exactly? The twelve steps are guided principles that outline a course of action for recovery from addiction, behavioral problems, or compulsion. These twelve steps originated in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a method of recovery from alcoholism, and are now being used in over two hundred twelve step programs and fellowships worldwide.

Twelve Steps: Most Popular Fellowships

  • AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
  • CA- Cocaine Anonymous
  • CLA- Clutterers Anonymous
  • CMA- Crystal Meth Anonymous
  • DA- Debtors Anonymous
  • EA- Emotions Anonymous
  • FAA- Food Addicts Anonymous
  • GA- Gamblers Anonymous
  • HA- Heroin Anonymous
  • MA- Marijuana Anonymous
  • NA- Narcotics Anonymous
  • SA- Smokers Anonymous
  • SAA- Sex Addicts Anonymous
  • WA- Workaholics Anonymous

Overview Of  The Twelve Steps

The twelve steps assume an active roll in the process of recovery for many people who want to change their lives. Each twelve steps are going to be different, depending on what the fellowship is used for, but usually they follow the same kind of structure. For example, if you are in Alcoholics Anonymous, step one would read “powerless over alcohol.” If you are in Narcotics Anonymous, step one would read “powerless over our addiction.”

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

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

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (of your understanding) as we understood him.

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

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

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

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

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

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

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (of your understanding) as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to ______, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The overall process is to: admit powerlessness, recognize a higher power (of your own understanding), examine past errors with the help of a sponsor, make amends for those errors, learn to live your new life with what you’ve learned, and carry the message to others. It’s suggested that the participant does not work these twelve steps by themselves; but rather with another person like a sponsor, or someone who has worked through all twelve steps thoroughly.

History Of The Twelve Steps

Alcoholics Anonymous was the first fellowship that used the twelve steps. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, known to AA members as “Bill W.” and “Dr. Bob”, are the founders of AA and the twelve steps. In 1953, AA gave permission to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) to use its twelve steps and also its twelve traditions. AA and the twelve steps have grown immensely throughout the years and have saved millions from the bind of alcoholism, addiction, and many other behavior health issues.

Measuring the effectiveness of the twelve steps and the fellowships that utilize the twelve steps could be quite difficult. It has been reported that about 23 million addicts and alcoholics are living in long-term recovery today. Many of those people in recovery utilized the twelve steps in some way to help them in their journey. The truth is, if you really want to see how the twelve steps work and if they work, asking someone who has recovered from the twelve steps is always the best answer.

If you would like more information about the twelve steps or where to find a meeting, please click here: Twelve Step Fellowship & Meetings

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