Alcohol 12-Step Program

StepsThere’s a ongoing criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous: the program inflates what should be a simple and straightforward behavior change into an extended, sometimes years-long process. Those that make this claim point out a single step is the only thing needed – just stop drinking.

Those who’ve participated in AA successfully strongly disagree. And the rationale for a 12 step program is also simple – people need a process to make what amounts to a complete makeover of their lives. There are too many interacting factors to expect a sudden conversion from one set of interlinked behaviors and a switch to sobriety. They point out all the different ways alcohol impacts lives and those personality and spiritual factors that underpin alcoholism.

A 12-step program is a set of discrete, focused goals that lead someone, not just to abstinence, but a different way of living, and understanding, their lives.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. (The admission of the problem.)
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Willingness to accept help.)
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Asking for help directly.)
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Explore the underlying problem.)
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Social proof.)
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (Surrender.)
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. (Action to accept help.)
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (Preparing to repair damage.)
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Reparing damage.)
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (Maintenance.)
  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. (Spiritual maintenance.)
  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. (Passing it on.)

Not all of these steps will apply or be practiced by every member, and not all will be done as separate items. Members usually “work the steps” in order, but there are times when review or redoing a step is in order. Still, even with this customization, there is an overarching plan and program to follow. This gives a sense of structure and a plan – critical for the struggling alcoholic.

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