Following the 12 Steps: What’s it All About?

There is no one “right” way to pursue addiction recovery—but there are some tried-and-true structures and programs that have proven helpful to many. Arguably, the 12 Step Program is the most famous and the most celebrated of them all. Though the program may not be for everyone, it does offer some unassailable virtues. Foremost among them is structure: Recovery can often hinge on routine, and the 12 Steps provide a clear, well-defined path forward.

Another reason to choose the 12 Steps is that each individual can go through the process at their own pace; the program can be individualized in this regard, allowing you to linger on the areas where you may need a little additional time or help. Speaking of which, those who go through the program do so with the guidance of a sponsor, ensuring that they never feel alone or directionless in their 12 Step journey.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the program, here’s a quick synopsis of what the 12 Steps encompass:

  1. Admitting that you are powerless over drugs/alcohol.
  2. Acknowledging that a higher power could help restore you to sanity.
  3. Making a decision to turn your life and your will over to that higher power (e.g., God, however you understand this concept).
  4. Conducting a truthful moral inventory of yourself.
  5. Admitting to God, yourself, and other people the exact nature of your wrongs.
  6. Being ready for God to remove these character defects.
  7. Asking God to remove your shortcomings.
  8. Making a list of the people you have wronged, and being willing to make amends with them.
  9. Making direct amends whenever possible.
  10. Continuing the process of soul-searching and moral inventory, and admitting to ongoing wrongs.
  11. Intentionally improving your relationship with God and asking him for knowledge/wisdom.
  12. Carrying the message of your own spiritual awakening to others who struggle with addiction.

The 12 Steps represent one way forward—a way that has worked well for many, and may work well for you or your loved one.

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Above It All Treatment Center Joins the Fight for Improved Access and Coverage for Addiction Treatment

NBC Right Now

Above It All Treatment Center advocates for its clients and the industry as a whole against insurance restrictions that make it more difficult for individuals to access the addiction treatment that they need. The facility supports parity acts that treat substance use and mental health disorders with the same seriousness and coverage as other health conditions. Through underpayment for services, unreasonable demands placed on clients, and other obstacles, insurance providers continue to make it more difficult for individuals to enter addiction treatment and afford these services. Kory Avarell, founder of Above It All and CareForward Health, has been actively engaged in petitioning against unfair practices by insurance companies and lagging reimbursement. Above It All strives to provide high quality care and support for those struggling with addiction and mental health disorders so that they can attain long-term recovery.

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The Best Things In Life: Making Amends and Rebuilding Relationships

The old saying that “the best things in life aren’t things” often rings true for those in recovery. You can have all of the material possessions in the world, but if you are not surrounded by people who love and support you, your life may still feeling like it is missing something. Building these relationships and appreciating the people in your life who have stood by you can be very motivating and encouraging. However, before you can appreciate these things, sometimes you have to make amends first.

Step nine of the 12 steps is all about making amends. In step eight you identify everyone you may have harmed, but step nine involves taking action. Making amends is more than saying you are sorry; it is about showing that you have changed and trying to restore what was damaged. This may mean paying back money borrowed, replacing objects that were broken or stolen, or making a conscious effort to change your ways such as through volunteering or signing up to be an organ donor. You may not always be able to make direct amends or repair the damage done, but there is always the opportunity to make a positive change moving forward.

The people you connect with have a positive impact on your recovery. They are the ones you can turn to when things get tough and the ones you want to celebrate your successes with. They are people who have seen you at your best and also at your worst, but who love you just the same and want to see you succeed. They are new friends who give you the drive and motivation to keep going, who you share new interests and goals with. They are also old friends who you may have unintentionally hurt but are making a conscious effort to rebuild trust with and develop a stronger relationship.

Take the time to value the positive people in your life and those who have stood by your side. Above It All can help you develop the skills and strategies you need to make amends and discover what the best things in your life are.

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What Are the 12 Steps to Recovery?

Alcoholic Anonymous’ 12 steps to recovery have been helping people recover from addiction for decades. The 12 steps were established by Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. They first appeared in “The Big Book” in 1939, which laid out the steps in detail.

Over the years, these steps have been modified to meet the needs of various groups, but the original message is still considered by many to be the heart of recovery: we are powerless on our own to manage our lives of addiction and need to rely on the support of a higher power and others.

The Message of the 12 Steps for Recovery

The 12 steps have been so effective because they encourage a person to reach out to others, to turn to a higher power, and to admit one’s own wrongs and shortcomings. All of this helps someone in recovery begin a new life – a renewed life without substance use. Those that accept the encouragement of others through rehab, therapy, and support groups are much more likely to succeed in recovery than those who try to hide their problem and manage it on their own.

The 12 steps state that we:

  1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, we promptly admitted it.
  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.
  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.

The 12 steps for sobriety can help a person long after their treatment has been completed. A person will continue to face stress, anxiety, and disappointments even after recovery, and if they are able to take a step back and analyze their lives according to the 12 steps, they will find encouragement there. The 12 steps can continue to offer healing and growth for someone wanting to maintain their sober lifestyle.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Loved Ones in Recovery

The holiday season is nearing and you can put your mind at ease because we have some great recovery gift ideas for you. Start with one of these stocking stuffers: choose from a pocket-sized card printed with the timeless wisdom of the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and the Serenity Prayer or the Eleventh Step Bookmark. These small gifts reinforce the importance of daily reflection and prayer. Provide encouragement and support for your loved one by giving them something to read. A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps is a recognized effective approach to helping women find serenity through the Twelve Steps. A lighter take on recovery, but with spot on convincing advice, is 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery. In simple, easygoing language, the author explores the twelve most commonly confronted beliefs and attitudes that can sabotage recovery. The book also offers helpful suggestions for working these solutions into daily life. Finally, Tales of Addiction and Inspiration for Recovery: Twenty True Stories from the Soul, a highly praised and popular account includes the author and her son sharing their story of pain and struggle. It includes many other inspiring stories collected over two years from real people who share their difficulties in intimate details.

Other holiday gifts that can encourage lifelong recovery and personal growth include jewelry with inspirational messages, like a Serenity Prayer Recovery Stretch Bracelet. If you like the idea of giving jewelry or handmade items, you will love our next suggestion. is a place where you can find unique holiday gifts for the man or woman in recovery. There are medallions with the third step and other prayers, and journals for doing step work and keeping gratitude lists. Jewelry can also be customized with your sobriety date. Your loved one will be comforted and touched when you give them one of these thoughtful gifts to show you support their recovery.

[cta]Continue the discussion on Facebook and learn more ways to strengthen the road to recovery.[/cta]

Memories and Sharing at 12-Step Meetings

Alcoholic insanity is described in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as the inability to bring to consciousness with sufficient force the adverse consequences of previous drinking experiences—consequences that would prompt a reasonable person to prefer abstinence. It follows, then, that sanity—for the alcoholic—could be defined as the ability to remember: to associate the idea of a first drink or drug with the inevitable disaster that usually follows.

This association is often first made, and is continually reinforced, in the context of a sharing session in a 12-step environment. The constant repetition of the basic theme—What I was like, what happened, and what I’m like now—serves to (hopefully) cement in place the connection between using a substance and the individual’s negative history of subsequent results.

This is not simply a matter of saying “Think it through,” although this is a popular saying at 12-step meetings. “Thinking it through” is exactly what alcoholics and addicts are incapable of doing: this is the essence of the First Step’s emphasis on the obsession of the mind. However, attending meetings and being immersed in an environment of admission to powerlessness tends to help us organize our memories in a healthy way, such that denial is brushed aside and the truth of our problem becomes apparent to us.

We cultivate this and it serves as a motivator to do the rest of the Steps, as recognizing the problem is not itself a complete or adequate solution. As a result of the Steps, we then have recovery to share, further reinforcing the new associations we have confirmed about substances and how damaging they have been to us. In a virtuous cycle, this “Keeping it green” helps to maintain our willingness to continue doing the work that recovery asks of us.

12 Step Addiction Treatment Programs – Top Questions Answered

Twelve step programs can be part of an inpatient or outpatient drug or alcohol addiction treatment program. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first program to use this approach, and other groups have adapted it to suit their needs. The first step on the road to recovery is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Here are some FAQs about the 12-step approach to treatment.

Why Is It Important For An Addict To Admit The Problem?

In Step 1, the addict admits that he or she is “powerless” over alcohol (or drugs) and that his or her life has become unmanageable. This is the start of the process where the person is starting to come out of denial and starts to focus less on the substance and more on their own contribution to the problem.

How Often Do I Need To Go To 12-Step Meetings?

In the early stages of recovery, a person may go to meetings on a daily basis. For clients who are being treated at 12 step recovery programs, attending meetings may be part of their individual treatment plan. The exact schedule will depend on their needs, and they will continue to attend meetings if they choose to stay at a sober living house after leaving the inpatient treatment program.

Do I Need To Be Religious To Follow A 12-Step Program?

Step 3 does talk about “turning our lives over to the care of God as we understood God,” but this program is non-denominational can be followed by people of any religious faith, as well as by those who consider themselves agnostics or atheists.

When Do I Have To Choose A Sponsor In A 12-Step Program?

You are not required to choose a sponsor in a 12-step program, although you are much more likely to stay sober if you do. If you decide to approach someone about being your sponsor, it should be someone that you have gotten to know from attending several meetings. Take your time and consider the matter carefully. This person should be someone who has been in recovery for a while who can provide guidance and support to you.

Will People Be Judging Me If I Talk At 12-Step Meetings?

Everyone who is going to a recovery meeting understands because they have also struggled with substance abuse issues. Everyone in the room will understand exactly where you are coming from. Nothing you can say will shock anyone there; some group members may have been through similar experiences when they were drinking or using drugs.

Will Anything I Say Be Discussed Outside Of The 12-Step Group?

No. Group members agree that anything discussed during a group meeting is confidential. Whether you are participating in the discussion as part of a 12 step long term rehab program or going to a meeting on your own, the word “anonymous” is in the name for a reason. You can share whatever is on your mind without having to worry about your thoughts or feelings being discussed elsewhere.

The Above It All drug and alcohol Treatment Center focuses on the 12-step approach to recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as several other effective treatment options.

What is the Twelve-Step Program?

12-step programs are behind the recoveries of literally millions of addicts the world over. Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, who encouraged recovery from addiction through a process of steps, founded the first program – Alcoholics Anonymous or ‘AA’ – in 1935.

Since their inclusion in the Big Book, these 12 steps have been adapted to address recovery throughout an array of addictions. For example, Narcotics Anonymous utilizes a 12-step format that is almost identical to Alcoholics Anonymous. Additional recovery programs address addiction in the form of sex, gambling and nicotine.

Doing Steps In Order – Important

When working 12 step programs, participants must complete the steps in the order specified. The initial step for any new member is to admit that they have a problem and that they are powerless to control it. The next step requires that the addict believe in a power greater than themselves. In step three, the addict gives him/herself over to that power to promote stability and sanity throughout the recovery process.

It is important to note that “higher power” does not necessarily embrace religious ideals. The program is open to individuals of all belief types, including atheists and agnostics. The religiosity level of the “higher power” will generally differ from group to group. Some programs are centered in religious beliefs, while others skip them altogether. However, most every 12-step meeting will conclude in fellowship and hand-holding.

Step four is often considered the most difficult by recovering addicts. In order to complete this step, participants must recognize the patterns, faults and bad behaviors that contributed to the addiction. This step is typically completed with the help of a sponsor. In step five, addicts expand on this moral inventory; admitting to their faults and ultimately confessing them to their sponsor and higher power.

In step six, the addict tells their higher power that they are ready. Step seven sees the addict requesting the higher power remove their aforementioned faults. During steps eight and nine, the addict must seek forgiveness from individuals they have wronged as a result of their addictive behaviors and offer restitution. In steps ten and eleven the addict places focus on the connection with their higher power and moral inventory. The final step requires participants to offer assistance in the recovery of other addicts.

12-step programs are not a cure for addiction. Many addicts who are successful in the program end up working the steps for years; some attend daily, others participate minimally. Study groups are generally available to help addicts through the process. Books are also available to shed additional light on each step. Though the program can, at times, be rather intense, the lessons and rewards obtained can serve participants for a lifetime.

How To Find Spiritual Awakening Through The 12 Steps of Recovery

At first glance, it may seem as though going to a 12-step recovery program and gaining a spiritual awakening might not have very much in common. It’s human nature to want things to come quickly and easily, and recovery is no different. Working through the 12 steps is a difficult endeavor, but the results are always worth the effort.

If you take a look at the wording of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4 of them refer to a Higher Power or to a spiritual awakening directly. You don’t have to be a member of a specific religious faith to follow these steps to sobriety. They are written in a way which makes them adaptable for people of any denomination. The third step addresses this idea when it allows participants to make a decision to turn their will and their lives “over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

No One Way to Sobriety

While each person may be walking along similar steps, their journey is a unique one. The 12-step program refers to tools like prayer and meditation, which can be used to get in touch with one’s self during and after any formal treatment at a drug and alcohol program, has been completed.

Once a client becomes familiar with using tools like prayer, meditation, and mindfulness as part of his or her everyday life, they can be used regularly. This combination of personal resources is an excellent way to reduce stress and stay focused on what is happening in the present. Addicts need to learn to take life “one day at a time.” For some people in recovery, the time frame needs to be shortened to an hour at a time.

Using these strategies can help them stay centered when difficult situations arise and they are tempted to give in and start using drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with boredom, stress, anxiety, grief, or any difficult situation they are facing. Addiction recovery programs include 12-step programs along with counseling (individual and group sessions), equine therapy, and group outings to help clients learn how to adjust to life without drugs or alcohol.

Working the 12 steps is a way of life and the riches that can be discovered on the spiritual journey are numerous. All that a person needs to get started is the willingness to make a change and then everything falls into place from that point.  The greatest gifts of recovery include letting go of shame, guilt, and fear and experiencing more peace, joy, and happiness than ever before.

Alcohol 12 Step Program Proves Human Touch Works In Addiction Treatment

With science trying to crack the key to addiction to find a simple solution to this complicated disease, will we ever get to the point where sufferers will simply be able to go to the doctor, be prescribed a pill, and pronounce themselves cured?

There certainly is a place for scientific research in the field of addiction and the results of a 2007 British report released by neuroscientist Jeffrey W. Dalley and several colleagues in ScienceMag found that rats with fewer dopamine receptors are more likely to exhibit impulsive behavior, including using cocaine.

However, alcohol addiction treatment needs to include something more than just looking at the science of what happens to a client’s brain before he or she seeks help at a facility. The 12-step model is still being used for one very good reason: it helps people get and stay sober.

Working the 12 Steps as Part of Recovery

The first step on the road to recovery for someone who starts going to meetings is to admit that he or she is an alcoholic. Making this simple statement is a very simple and powerful act, since it often comes in the face of years of denial and lies about there being a problem at all.

The meetings are intended to be a safe place, and anything discussed in that context is supposed to remain private. Members are free to share anything they wish about their past or current struggles, fears, hopes, and triumphs when they start going to 12 step recovery meetings.

Simply being in a room with a group of people who understand exactly what it’s like to be an alcoholic creates a type of mental shorthand between members. They already have something in common that they can start to build on.

Other Steps in the Process

As time goes by and clients feel ready, they can move through the other steps in the program to find spiritual truth, accepting one’s own character defects, making a list of all those who have been harmed because of drinking, asking for forgiveness, and more. .Everyone works through the list of steps at their own pace. Sobriety is a lifestyle, and it’s not a specific destination or a goal that a client can achieve.

Unfortunately, there is no point at which someone can be pronounced “cured” from his or her addiction. Recovery is a lifelong process, and clients can continue to attend 12 step programs as often as they feel is necessary to get the help and support they need.

However, the good news is that addicts will learn how to live without drugs or alcohol, and the other destructive character defects they used to cover up their addiction.  Addicts will learn how to live with increasing levels of peace and joy, while at the same time repairing the damage they have done to those they love most.