The 12 Steps of AA

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is a program for people suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs. It was originally founded in 1935, and meetings are held throughout the country to this day. The primary goal of Alcoholics Anonymous is to help those addicted to drugs and alcohol achieve sobriety and help those in recovery stay sober.

Alcoholics Anonymous is well-known as a 12-step program, which means members are expected to follow 12 steps to sobriety. The 12 steps of AA are spiritual in nature, and they are designed to help members live their lives in a way that rids them of the obsession to drink.

Step 1

The first step for anybody in Alcoholics Anonymous is to admit that they were powerless to alcohol and that it has taken over their lives. Many alcoholics have a hard time admitting this fact, yet they must before recovery can begin.

Step 2

Step 2 is to acknowledge in a higher power than can help members overcome their addiction. The idea is that alcoholism is so strong that alcoholics need the help of something greater than themselves if they are to take back their lives. It is up to individual members to decide what this power is; it doesn’t necessarily have to be the Christian God of the Bible.

Step 3

The third step is for members to decide to turn their lives over to whatever they believe their higher power to be. It is essentially when an alcoholic makes the decision to become sober.

Step 4

In step 4, members are asked to take a moral inventory of themselves. This means looking at past mistakes, regrets, and embarrassments and see how they have affected their lives. This is often an uncomfortable process, but it is a necessary one since it allows members to be more honest with themselves during their recovery.

Step 5

Step 5 involves admitting previous poor behavior. Many members of AA even write down what they discovered about themselves during step 4 and give the list to their sponsors.

Step 6

Step 6 is when members admit that they are ready to have the higher power they have chosen remove the wrongdoings that they had discovered and admitted to during steps 4 and 5.

Step 7

Step 7 involves following through with the decision made in step 6. It is admitting that they cannot remove their shortcomings by themselves and asking their higher power to do so for them. The idea here is that everyone has flaws that drive them to use drugs and alcohol and make other mistakes.

Step 8

Step 8 has members make a list of everyone that they have wronged. These wrongs could be anything from minor insults to something more serious.

Step 9

Step 9 has members make amends with anybody who may have been hurt by their behavior. Since not everybody may be aware of who they’ve hurt or even that they hurt anybody at all, they often ask their sponsors for assistance during this step. Making amends could involve writing a letter to those that members feel that they have wronged, or it could mean sitting down with people and talking to them.

Step 10

Step 10 is more of a lifestyle change rather than a real step to take during the recovery process. Basically, it requires members to continue taking inventory of themselves and any mistakes they may make as they battle their addictions. Recovery from alcoholism is a lifelong struggle, and alcoholics need to remember that they will make mistakes from time to time even if they never have a full relapse.

Step 11

Step 11 requires members to commit some kind of spiritual practice. This can mean prayer and regularly attending church services, but it can also involve meditation that requires no prayer or commitment to a religion at all. This makes Alcoholics Anonymous an effective program for agnostics and atheists as well as religious people.

Step 12

Step 12 is for members to put everything they’ve learned about themselves in previous steps into practice and continue living their lives free of drugs and alcohol while understanding that it will be a lifelong struggle. They will also be encouraged to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety and keep their fellow AA members from having a relapse.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping people struggling with drugs and alcohol for decades. Despite its commitment to spirituality and the belief in a higher power, it is open to non-religious people as well since a “higher power” doesn’t necessarily have to be the God of the Bible. The only real requirement for joining Alcoholics Anonymous is a desire to be free of drugs and alcohol. There are almost certainly meetings near you, so seek them out if you want to take back your life from your addictions once and for all.