Many people believe that a 12 step program is only for addicts or alcoholics. The truth is that everyone should try a 12 step program. There are so many benefits to these programs. Everyone faces situations where they can use these steps. The steps are about making amends when you do something wrong. It is about working out your resentments towards others instead of holding grudges. The 12 steps are not just for addicts and alcoholics. They are designed for everyone’s life.
Purpose of the 12 Steps
If you read through the 12 steps, you will find that alcohol and drugs is mentioned just one time. It is in the first part of that first step. This step states, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and drugs — that our lives had become unmanageable.” The rest of the twelve steps teach you about how to alter your life to live it better. The one thing you must remember is that alcoholism is not particularly all about the alcohol, neither is any other addiction just about the addiction. It is about a specific person, what has and is happening in their life, and the obstacles they need to overcome. It is about the changes they need to make. Alcohol is often used as a solution. When the alcoholic can find healthier solutions, they can start to overcome their addiction. The same goes for anyone with any type of issue.
Escaping from Reality
Have you ever tried escaping from something in your life? Maybe it was an argument, a bothersome neighbor, a lie you told, something else you did wrong, or anything else for that matter. You may not have turned to alcohol. You might have turned to self-loathing, guilt, anger, and more. Maybe you turned to isolation and fear. You don’t have to do that any longer. The 12 steps are going to help you change these issues, obstacles, and more. You can learn to become more comfortable with your true self. You won’t need to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to handle your issues any longer. The 12 step process takes time but you can get there.
Steps from 1 to 12
According to the Big Book, the 12 steps are the following:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Became ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practise these principles in all our affairs.
If you have never tried the 12 step process before, you should start today. Remember, it is a process. This can’t be done in one day and it certainly can’t be done all at once. This is a lifetime process. If you implement and start using the 12 steps in your life, you will have less resentments, fewer issues in your life, and be able to have healthier relationships with yourself and others.
Co-Founder of AA and Summing Up the Steps
When it comes to AA and the 12 Steps, it starts with Bill Wilson. He was a co-founder of the AA program. The 12 steps were proposed first by him in 1939. He wanted to add them into the main part of the Alcoholics Anonymous text. They are mainly derived from spiritual principles and other such things including psychology and religion. However, you don’t have to be a religious person to use them. You don’t have to believe in God either. The point is to get them help from your Higher Power, whomever that might be. The steps were created based on a bit of Bill Wilson’s alcohol recovery experience.
Understanding all of the steps is difficult for some people. However, there are various ways you can sum up the 12 steps. Here is one such example of how this can be done:
- Steps 1 through 3: Admit you are full of experiences. Your life is a disaster and you can’t quit using unhealthy coping skills on your own. You recognize there is a greater force out there and you can’t take control of everything that happens in this world or in your world.
- Steps 4 through 9: Now it is time to clean house. You need to turn your life around. You will assess your past negative behaviors, talk about them with someone (maybe a therapist), and learn better ways of thinking and doing things. You will then apologize to those you have hurt, so you can lift your head up high. Basically, you are going to learn how you can live a better life.
- Steps 10 through 12: These are more of the maintenance types steps. With the twelfth step you will pass these messages to others in life you find need them. You want to help others live the best life they can. You share the benefits you reaped from the 12 step program.
Keep in mind it may take a bit to get these steps down. You may not do them correctly the first time or even every time. The purpose is to keep trying to make life easier, better, happier, and healthier. Whether you are in an addiction rehab or whether you don’t have an addiction at all, you should be able to enjoy your life.
Mention of God
While it was mentioned a bit earlier, seeing the word God scares many people. However, the 12 Steps are for everyone; you don’t have to be religious to participate in the 12 Steps. You can be a spiritual person without believing in God. Maybe you just believe there is an underlying power, energy, or intelligence in this world that is bigger than yourself. You should be aware there are many atheists who have used this type of program to turn their life around. Mainly, the steps that involve God are about you letting go of control. You may currently know of or even use affirmations about letting go.
If you do suffer from an alcohol addiction, you should know there are plenty of treatment programs available. Many of them are 12 Step based addiction treatment programs. You might find these helpful if you can’t or aren’t able to overcome your addiction on your own. There are options out there. You can choose short or longer inpatient stays. You can choose an outpatient 12 Step based program as well. Recovering from an addiction is a lot of work. However, once you can realize the basis of your addiction and learn healthier coping skills, you have a better chance of getting past the addictive lifestyle.
You are in control of your own life, but you must not exhaust yourself trying to control everything else in this world. Doing so is only going to wear you out and shake you up some more. So, maybe you aren’t an alcoholic or addict. You may have never used drugs or alcohol in your life. However, just like everyone else in this world, it is very likely you have some unhealthy coping mechanisms you use. You may not apologize as much as you should. You might hold grudges when you have a resentment toward someone. Maybe your life is filled with troubling relationships, fears, irritability, and more. If you are trying to escape your life for any reason, you should know the 12 step program can help.
Addictions are nothing to be ashamed of. Millions of people around the world have abused or become addicted to alcohol. The one thing to remember if you do have an addiction is to reach out for help. If you don’t have an addiction, but you want a program in your life that is going to help you be happier, more content, and more successful, a 12 Step program is the way to go. Not sure yet if this type of program is the route for you. Give it a try for a few months and see if it helps you.