12 step addiction recovery programs, explained simply

You may have heard of 12 step programs before, but you may not know what they are, beyond the first one (which involves admitting that you have a problem).

Erik Bugen and other addiction recovery experts use the 12 steps, as they have had a proven track record of effectiveness over the years.

Wondering what they entail? This post will break them down so that you can get a sense of how they work.

1) “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/narcotics/gaming/etc—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The first step of recovery has the addict admitting to themselves that they have a problem. By acknowledging that they have lost control of their life to a specific behavior, they can begin to do what is necessary to free themselves from its clutches.

2) “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Many non-religious addicts have trouble getting past the second step, but for those that do believe, accepting the idea that a greater power can assist them is vital to their recovery.

For dedicated atheists/agnostics, having faith that other human beings can help them recover is a way for them to get through this part of the process.

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

Another line that applies to believers. This simply means to follow the word of God, and to trust that this deity will take care of you.

For those that don’t believe, trusting your care providers and following their advice can be taken to mean the same thing.

4) “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

To get through this step, you must go through all the actions you have done in the past, noting the ones have had a negative impacts on the lives of loved ones.

By knowing how drinking/drug use/ gambling impacts them, stopping these behaviors becomes a more realistic goal.

5) “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

After noting what you done wrong, you will then have to admit to your God (should you believe in one), yourself, and another person the extent of your transgressions.

Doing this is a big step, as making oneself vulnerable to judgment is necessary for forgiveness to have a meaningful impact.

6) “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

This step means that an addict is ready to accept help via clinical and spiritual means without reservation, and will not go through the motions when they don’t really intend to follow through.

7) “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

After one is ready to accept treatment, they need to attend all therapy sessions and do everything they ask of you. Addiction professionals are well-trained in their field, so addicts should have faith in what they suggest.

8) “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

This means sitting down and figuring out who one has wronged over the years due to their addictions, and figure out how to make reparations to them.

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

This involves following through with the plan, but with the knowledge that some will not be ready to have personal contact after what was done to them. Obviously, any reparations that harm others are off the table.

10) “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This means monitoring behavior on a daily basis. When engaging in an action that harms others, or one that constitutes a relapse, one needs to admit it to a fellow human being ASAP.

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.”

For those that take the religious aspects of the 12 step program seriously, this means praying to God daily, and carrying out its will. For those that are non-religious, taking up meditation, examining actions daily, and following the Golden Rule is a good substitute.

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 final step involves engaging in service to help other addicts break their habits, and continuing to observe the fundamentals of the 12 steps in one’s daily life.

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