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.

Staying Sober In Any Situation

“So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn’t.  You will note that we made and important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, “Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?” If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!”-from the chapter  “ Working With Others”

– from The Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Even though we are receiving addiction recovery this does not mean that we avoid living our life and going out into society. In fact it is encouraged that we go out and enjoy ourselves and our lives to the fullest. While it is smart to be cautious about the scenes we are hanging out in like bars, clubs, and parties if we are spiritually fit we can go anywhere and do anything. We got sober in order to be happy and functioning not isolate and be shut off from the world. When we go to detox, AA, or Above It All drug rehab we receive the tools necessary for dealing with different situations, and live life on life’s terms. Through taking our recovery one day and even one situation at a time we can become happy, healthy functioning members of society. If we are diligent about doing the work we will be able to stay sober through anything.

Being of Service

“It is not a matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give. That often makes the difference between failure and success. The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: job or no job – wife or no wife- we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trusts in God and clean house.” – Pg.98 Working With Others from the Big Book Of Alcoholics Anonymous

It is normal to want to help other alcoholics out when they are having a hard time with problems other than alcohol however if it is not the right kind of help we could be potentially harming them as far as stunting their sobriety is concerned. After all most of us had gotten to the place where we were willing to ask for alcohol addiction help because we were so desperate. It was painful and difficult at times but we almost always came out the other side. To help out financially or with a place to stay could mean robbing someone of that experience. These struggles for many were what kept us going at times we might have given up. It’s what also makes our new sober life that much more amazing because we were so broken, and beat down that everything else seemed pretty great and we were open to the alternative life sobriety had to offer. Therefore if we come across a newcomer we can help them along the path of recovery instead of taking it on for them. If they need jobs or a home we can work with them on the steps so that they once again can become employable if they are not and we can make suggestions for sober living, an affordable rehab, AA, or rehabs that take insurance etc. We may also share our experience, strength, and hope so that they may be able to see that we went through the same struggles, were able to stay sober, and that through God and sobriety anything is possible.

Getting Sober and Circumstances of Life

“Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back. This just isn’t so. In some cases the wife will never come back for one reason or another. Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. We have seen men get well whose families have not returned at all. We have seen others slip when the family came back too soon. Both you and the new man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned. Follow the dictates of a higher power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!” pg.-100 Working with Others from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

When first receiving alcohol addiction help and getting sober many of us think that life should look a certain way and that we should have certain things or get the things we lost back just because we are sober. While most of us do get our life’s back there are things and relationships that take time to heal and get back. That does not mean we cannot recover. There is no person place or thing that can keep us sober or stop us from recovering. Regardless of age, sex, job, race, political views, religion, and circumstance we can all recover. Those other possessions and relationships will come back if and when they are meant to. All we need to do is show up, and do the work that is asked of us in life, a drug addiction detox, AA, or 30 day rehab program. Regardless of the way our life looks the fact is that if we didn’t drink today, our lives are better for that alone, and the rest is extra.

Alcoholics, Addicts, and the Fun of Sobriety!

“We have shown how we got out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute? Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.” –pg.152 A Vision for You from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

After receiving alcohol addiction help most of us are surprised and pleased by the fellowship we find through sobriety, drug addiction detox, AA, and 30 day rehab programs. Many of us feel like we are never going to have as much fun as we have had in the past but the reality of the situation is that not only do we have as much fun but usually even more than before because its minus the unmanageability. We find a new joy and a new freedom. We come to realize that through sobriety anything is possible. As long as we take action, and stay sober we can do anything we want to. We are given the opportunity to create the life of our dreams and pursue different paths, paths that we haven’t until sobriety been able to pursue. Many of us had many dreams that just fell by the wayside because of our alcoholism but now we get to go and live life!

The Importance of Openness in Sobriety

“If we cannot or would rather not do this, we search our acquaintance for a close-mouthed, understanding friend perhaps our doctor or psychologist will be the person. It may be one of our own family, but we cannot disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them and make them unhappy. We have no right to save our own skin at another person’s expense. Such parts of our story we tell to someone who will understand, yet be unaffected. The rule is we must hard on ourselves, but always considerate of others. Notwithstanding the great necessity for discussing ourselves with someone, it may be one is so situated that there is no suitable person available. If that is so, this step may be postponed, only, however if we hold ourselves in complete readiness to go through with it at the first opportunity.” – pg. 73-74 Into Action from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

When we decide we are ready to receive alcohol addiction help and do the work in order to stay sober it is important that we decide to do the work with someone that matches the criteria talked about in this excerpt from the big book. It is important that we feel safe and know that whatever is talked about is discussed in confidence. That way it will be easier for us to proceed with abandoned. Regardless of if we decide to do the work through a 30 day rehab program, AA, drug addiction detox, or through a friend we need to know in matters regarding the steps that our confidence is not going to be betrayed for this could potentially leave a bad taste in our mouth as far as sobriety is concerned and could lead us to drink. When the time is right we will find the right person to take us through the steps, be shown a way to recover, and as a result of the step work have a spiritual experience. If we find the right person it can truly be a beautiful process.

The Importance of a Truly Fearless and Thorough Inventory in Sobriety

“The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough or humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story. More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character.”- pg. 73 Into Action from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

When it comes to our step work, it is important that we are thorough and fearless from the very start if we are going to stay sober Through going to an affordable rehab, AA, or drug addiction detox we can be shown precisely how to recover as well as get the tools needed to achieve lasting recovery. If we are not honest and we cut corners in our inventory no matter how tempting or scary it is then our work would have been for nothing. The alcohol addiction help that is available to us only works if we do it with complete abandon and honesty. If we are able to walk through our fears by taking contrary action then we will be rewarded and be blessed with a life full of peace, love, serenity, and happiness amongst many other things.

Alcoholism, Addiction, and The Workplace

“A look at the alcoholic in your organization is many times illuminating. Is he not usually brilliant, fast-thinking, imaginative and likable? When sober, does he not work hard and have a knack of getting things done? If he had these qualities and did not drink would he be worth retaining? Should he have the same consideration as other ailing employees? Is he worth salvaging? If your decision is yes, whether the reason be humanitarian or business or both, then the following suggestions may be helpful. Can you discard the feeling that you are dealing only with habit, with stubbornness, or a weak will? If this presents difficulty, rereading chapter two and three, where alcoholic sickness is discussed at length might be worthwhile”. –pg.139-140 To Employers from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Most of us prior to receiving alcohol addiction help were outright mental defectives. Most of us could barely hold it together for a job let alone life. While our potential was obvious and probably frustrating to most we were either unable to see it or figure out how to reach that potential. When we got/get sober we are finally able to see the things in ourselves that others were able to see all along. Then when you add a drug addiction detox, AA, or 30 day rehab program to the mix we are given the tools needed to not only function but also be a productive member of society, and a worker among workers. We are restored to sanity and Go on to be some of the best employees a company has ever seen.

Helping Others Discover Their Higher Power

“Even though your protégé may not have entirely admitted his condition, he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question, if he will. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he is willing to believe in a power greater than we and that he live by the spiritual principles. When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused.”- pg. 93 Working with Others from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

This excerpt from the big book very much goes hand in hand with our third tradition which states that the only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. That means that regardless of our religious/ spiritual beliefs or lack thereof we still get the opportunity to receive alcohol addiction help. Through going to a 30 day rehab program, A.A., or drug addiction detox we get the tools needed to come up with our own concept of a higher power. It is important when carrying the message to another alcoholic that we make the fact that they can choose their own higher power very clear. Many of us have either grown up with the concept of a damning or shaming God or no concept at all. So the idea of having to rely on a particular higher power can be scary. The fact that we get to mold our concept of a power greater then ourselves is an amazing part of recovery. It can be a source of love, comfort, and peace.

The Miracle of Change in Sobriety

“It may seem incredible that these men are to become happy, respected, and useful once more. How can they rise out of such misery, bad repute and hopelessness? The practical answer is that since these things have happened among us, they can happen with you. Should you wish them above all else, and be willing to make use of our experience, we are sure they will come. The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery hope is that when this chip of a book is launched on the world tide of alcoholism, defeated drinkers will seize upon it to follow its suggestions. Many we are sure will rise to their feet and march on.” – pg. 153 A Vision For You from the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous

For many years AA as well as 30 day rehab programs, sober livings, and other drug addiction detox programs have had high success rates in regards to people seeking alcohol addiction help. Time and time again you see people go through these programs, sober up, and turn their lives around. We become happy, joyous, free, and usefully whole once again. We are filled with gratitude because we are able to do things, and form relationships we never expected to form. Our new life in sobriety is a far cry from when we were out using and drinking. Most of us had become shut off from the world, unable to function in society, spiritually bankrupt, and left feeling helpless/hopeless. When we get sober and do the work all of those problems seem to vanish. We become a productive and some may even say valuable asset to society. We begin to think about what we can bring to a situation rather than what we can take from it and as a result we reap the blessings and benefits.