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The 12 Steps of AA: A Step-by-Step Guide

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To avoid falling into the vicious cycle of alcohol addiction, you have to remain vigilant. You cannot go out drinking with friends without being acutely aware that you could feel triggered, even in social situations and vacations. One way to overcome alcohol addiction is the 12-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). View our step-by-step working guide for AA and the 12 Steps below.

How Do AA and the 12 Steps Help Overcome an Addiction?

The 12 steps of AA are a recovery method created by Alcoholics Anonymous to help people with alcohol dependency overcome their addiction. The twelve steps of Alcohol Anonymous are an essential part of the narcotics anonymous recovery program. They form a necessary foundation for living a sober lifestyle and avoiding relapse into addiction.

The 12 steps have been helping people deal with their addiction since 1939. Alcoholics Anonymous is a program that helps individuals overcome alcohol addiction by using personal inventory, one-on-one support, and prayer. Still, it is also a framework for anyone working to build a sober life in addiction treatment.

Furthermore, a paper from Cochrane Reviews that reviewed several studies on AA and Twelve Step Facilitation (TSF) found “high quality evidence that manualized AA/TSF interventions are more effective than other established treatments, such as CBT, for increasing abstinence.” (“Manualized” means that standardized content in the program follows a linear or modular fashion. This ensures that treatment remains consistent over time).

AA meeting for 12 step recovery

Step-by-Step Guide of AA

At Pacific Sands Recovery, we know that the fellowship and social support of AA are among the most critical aspects of the program. We believe that the 12 steps along with other treatment methods, like addiction therapy and medication-assisted treatment (MAT), are the best approaches to recovery from alcohol addiction.

Follow our step-by-step guide for the 12-step program of AA:

Step 1: Honesty

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.” 

You must identify yourself as an alcoholic and admit that we have been controlled by alcohol, and our lives have become unmanageable as a result. This is the first step to deciding to turn to a sober life.

Step 2: Faith

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” 

It seems to be a spiritual truth that recovery is a process that only works if you have faith in a higher power. ​There is a way. You must believe in it and take the actions necessary to receive it.

Step 3: Surrender

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

We decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. We humbly asked Him for help and promised to do our best to carry His message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 4: Soul Searching

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

Alcoholics Anonymous is an effective tool for breaking bad habits. By making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, we can recognize our problem areas and learn from our mistakes.

Step 5: Integrity

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

Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Prayerfully brought to realize that we were powerless over alcohol due to these wrongdoings – that our lives have become unmanageable.

Step 6: Acceptance

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

Being entirely ready does not mean we are adequate now; it means we are prepared to have God remove our character defects. Today, rather than ten years from now, is the day we start working with a power greater than ourselves to remove our shortcomings.

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Step 7: Humility

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings to become able to live happily, peacefully, and free from any suffering in the world without drugs. If it is God’s will, asking Him to remove our shortcomings and help us to keep our fellowship together, feeling each other.’

Step 8: Willingness

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

To carry this step of the 12 steps of AA out, it may be helpful to list people we have harmed. They need not be real. They could be people we feel we have hurt or people we imagined having harmed us. We are also making amends to ourselves. 

Step 9: Forgiveness

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

Let us practice Step Nine and make direct amends to people we have harmed, whether they are strangers or those close to us.

Step 10: Maintenance

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

Staying in denial is harmful. We are protected from pain only as long as we believe we can cope by making up stories about how others are to blame for our troubles.

Step 11: Making Contact

“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.”

By using prayer and meditation to improve, we came closer to the perfection of our conscious contact with the person mentioned above, who we understand to be God as we understood Him.

Step 12: Service

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Step 12 is where release comes into the program, freedom from the obsession with the drink. It is the turning point of our recovery and an essential part of maturity to carry spiritual awakening.

Steps to Recovery

With over 1 million members and a 100-year track record, 12 steps recovery programs like AA have become the most successful way to guide people suffering from alcoholism in existence. We estimate that at least 50% of all rehabs use the 12 steps as a cornerstone of their treatment plans which is why we created this guide.

12 Step AA recovery group

Alcohol Rehab Orange County

How many times have you tried to quit drinking, only to start again later? It’s time to put an end to this cycle of addictive behavior. Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County can help you find support and develop a life free from alcohol at our rehab center.

The 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent start to getting help. Contact us today to learn more about AA and start the first step in your recovery.

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