Today, there are a vast number of 12-step programs to help people stop doing things that harm them, or change unfavorable behaviors. Programs are available for obsessive gamblers and eaters.
However, the original 12-step framework was designed to help save alcoholics from a life of misery. Let’s explore what the 12 steps of AA are, and how they’ve helped millions recover from an apparently hopeless condition of mind and body.
Turning Over the Problem
Many have analyzed the 12-step philosophy to try to understand why the concept has been so successful in helping a myriad of afflictions. The process accomplished by the first three steps is an essential first phase of recovery from any addiction or adverse behavior.
The first step of the AA program admits a sense of powerlessness over the substance. It isn’t insistent upon feeling a demoralizing sense of defeat. However, the first step insists that the drink or the drug has taken over life so dramatically, life is no longer manageable.
It is often mentioned in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous as the only step of the twelve, which must be taken 100 percent. From this sense of powerlessness over the drink or the drug must come an honest acceptance that your own efforts to win the battle have proven fruitless.
Continuing to attempt the same thing repeatedly, hoping for a different result, is a core principle of insanity. The second-step in AA insists that you must find something bigger than yourself to place your trust. The process flows quickly into a third-step. Many mistake the meaning behind step-three.
It doesn’t insist on any newfound belief in a religious concept. In fact, all it asks that the person become willing to accept that there might be a source of power beyond themselves. This step is said to be the keystone to a gateway that will change your life.
A Personal Inventory and Willingness to Change
Between steps four and five of AA’s 12-step philosophy is a critical stage of personal reflection followed by house cleaning. The concept of a written accountability for your behaviors has its source deeply rooted in psychology.
Some insist that a man who does not reflect on his own personal deeds, good and bad, robs himself of a powerful tool for living a productive life. Step four allows you to examine your role in a number of events throughout your life.
Reflecting on these emotional events with another human being is also a proven way to step past self-defeating thoughts such as guilt. The AA 12-step program then shifts to a pair of steps that involve a higher source of power and a sense of willingness.
Revealing a series of defects or personal shortcomings would lack any justified reason if not for a willingness to step away from these behaviors. The sixth and seventh steps in the AA program are a lifelong process of improving your personal attitudes and actions.
Stepping Away from Guilt
It seems difficult to appreciate why apologizing to someone can help you improve. It might seem that making an amends for poor choices and decisions is all about the other person. AA’s 12-steps insist otherwise.
The problem with many addicts and alcoholics is that they drink and drug out of extreme guilt. A great deal of the emphasis on feeling guilty festers because of an inability to apologize. The first of this two-step process is AA’s step-eight.
Step-eight is an eye-opening exercise in humility, a key to helping you recover. As the list of individuals you may have wronged grows, a true appreciation for good living will begin to develop. This step is nothing more than a list. It requires no action except your own.
Step-nine is said to be the scariest idea as you gradually work through the first eight. Invariably, everyone who finally begins a step-nine in earnest admits that many of the personal amends become life-changing events.
Again, steps eight and nine are not there to clean a slate for other people. Step-eight is also not a self-admonishment to make your guilt even worse. The two steps combined are a method for accepting your part in various situations in your life and then helping you step away from the guilt.
The Maintenance Steps
Those who have completed all 12 steps in the AA program often refer to the final three steps as maintenance steps. Together they formulate a stable foundation for living a clean and sober life. They also provide you with a resource to continue handling life on life’s terms.
Your life will not stop, and bad things will not suddenly stop happening, just because you decided to get sober. People will still be people, and you will still be human, prone to making mistakes. This issue isn’t the mistakes, it’s an inability to take responsibility for the mistakes and make an amends.
While step-ten gives you a framework for personal inventory as you live a sober lifestyle, step-eleven helps you continue your focus on developing and improving a connection with a source higher than yourself. Like all the steps after step-one, no one has been able to maintain anything like perfect sobriety.
However, through working the steps, millions have managed to stay sober and improve their life. The final step in AA’s 12-step program only asks that you work to apply the principles of the steps in your daily life. A way to help insure you can continue living clean and sober is to offer your hope and experience to another who suffers.
These are the basic concepts between AA’s 12-step program. They are ideas that have proven vital in helping dozens of other afflictions and addictions. They are but suggestions, but somewhat akin to the idea that it’s recommended you pull the cord on a parachute for it to work.
If you think you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, make that first step to ask for help. In a sense, you will be launching your own journey into the 12-steps of AA by admitting you’re powerless over the drink. Make the call today, because help is available. Recovery begins with that simple request. Call today at 732-392-7311, because tomorrow may be too late.