What are the 12 Steps?

According to AA, “The heart of the suggested program of personal recovery is contained in the 12 Steps describing the experience of the earliest members of the Society”

In other words, they are the 12 steps to be executed one by one as a suggested path to recovery from the abuse of drugs, alcohol or other behavioral disorders.

Explicit within the literature of AA is that people new to the meetings or the program are under no obligation to accept or follow the 12 Steps “in their entirety if they feel unwilling or unable to do so.” However, three things are asked of newcomers:

  • To maintain an open mind
  • To attend the meetings
  • To read the AA literature

There are also some expectations of AA members. They will usually:

  • describe their personal experiences in achieving sobriety
  • emphasize to newcomers that only problem drinkers themselves, individually, can determine whether or not they are in fact alcoholics

They will also point out that:

  • all available medical testimony indicates that alcoholism is a progressive illness
  • it cannot be cured in the ordinary sense of the term
  • it can be arrested through total abstinence from alcohol in any form

The Twelve Steps

Below are the 12 Steps in their entirety, as originally published by AA. Please click on an individual step to learn more about it.

Step 1
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

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

Step 4
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

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

Step 6
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

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

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

Step 10
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 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.

Step 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.