How Long will it Take me to Work Through All 12 Steps?

You attend an AA or NA meeting and you hear all of the other recovering addicts tout that they’ve been clean and part of the 12 Step program for 90 days, 120 days, 1 year, 2 years—sometimes longer. And then you start to wonder—“just how long will I need to be part of the 12-step program in order to achieve my sobriety goals?”

Most sponsors will encourage you to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. You may initially think—WOW, that’s so much, why do I have to be here so often? You then begin to hear all these other suggestions as to when you should attend a meeting, who you should call when you’re not at a 12-step meeting, what you should do to stay sober—it can be downright overwhelming. But all of these encouraging actions and suggestions from the members of a 12-step support program don’t have to be overwhelming. There is help.

Newcomers often feel the need to immediately place a defined timeline to their recovery—“It’s going to take me 90 days to get sober,” or, “I’m going to be completely done with addiction and living my newly recovered life 30 days from now.” What they don’t think about is the fact that recovery is so much different for each individual and it may take weeks, months or even years before you feel fully able to embrace your sobriety.

The amount of time you will spend in the 12-step program, or in a treatment program, will depend on so many different factors including your own health, your commitment to getting sober, your support system, the severity of your addiction—see a common bond here? It’s all about YOU; it’s really not about what someone else did that worked—it’s about what will work for YOU.

90 Meetings in 90 Days

All 12 Steps

Getting through all 12 steps in 90 days isn’t required or necessarily expected.

Let’s start with the goal—90 meetings in 90 days. Almost any 12-step program, NA, AA, CA—they all encourage new members to put their best foot forward by committing to 90 meetings in 90 days. WHY? Because this keeps you fighting for your sobriety during the most challenging time, when you’re still not firmly planted in your recovery habits and when you are essentially vulnerable to relapse.

Will I Get Through the 12-Steps in 90 Days?

Working the steps is about what works for you. Remember that a 12 step program is not about working the steps in order necessarily—you may skip around, you may backtrack, jump forward, etc. There is no defined timeline that you can expect to recover in. There is no defined timeline that you can expect to complete all 12-steps in.

The amount of time you spend on one step versus another can vary greatly just like your addiction and recovery can vary greatly from that of another. Defined guidelines for the 12-step healing process simply don’t exist—WHY? Because everyone is different, and that’s ok!

If 12-Step Recovery Doesn’t Have a Defined Timeline, Then Why do It?

So now you’re wondering—if there’s no definitive timeline; if I can’t say, I’ll do this for X amount of time and be sober on X date, for good—then why do it? Keep in mind that 12-step recovery is not about a timeline, it’s about finding the support that you need for healing. It’s about finding what you need to free yourself from addiction. It’s about coming to terms with your addiction and finding peace.

12 Ways to Make a 12 Step Program Work for You

Take Back Power, Overcome Yourself

The 12-step program is all about YOU—we said that already, but really, have you thought about it? This program will help YOU heal and take back power from your biggest problem in life—Yourself! Think about it, you begin the 12-steps with the identification of a higher power and you self-teach yourself (or with the help of others in your support group you learn) how to surrender all of your thoughts, actions and behaviors to that higher power.

Next, you follow through as the twelve steps encourage you to forgive others—because it’s YOU who needs the encouragement to forgive.

Continue on and the steps ask YOU to make amends with those YOU have hurt—that’s right, once again this magnificent program is focusing on YOU and showing you the way to overcome the negativity of yourself.

Sounds harsh at first, but when you come to realize that drugs and alcohol have made you someone you’re not, it all makes perfect sense to take action and follow through these guided steps to restore yourself. It’s all about healing you so that you can be a better person for yourself and for others.

Get a Sponsor and Work the Steps

Don’t place a timeline on the process—Surely when you started using drugs or alcohol you didn’t say, “I’m going to use these substances for 12 weeks, become terribly addicted and then that will be all, I’ll stop and be sober.” Addiction doesn’t happen that way—and recovery doesn’t either.

When you’re ready to work the steps, attend an NA or AA meeting or find a treatment program 800-653-7143 that offers 12-step recovery and get a sponsor right away. You’ll immediately receive the support you need to begin the 12-step journey, and when you start to feel like maybe it’s taking too long, or like you can’t possibly sit in another meeting, your sponsor will remind you what a wonderful gift sobriety is.

If you’re not quite ready to work the steps just yet, that’s “ok” too. Call our helpline at 800-653-7143 to speak with a counselor about your next steps to sobriety. You don’t have to complete all 12-steps right now—but take the first step and call for help.

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