The 12 steps describe a list of principles to be applied to an addict’s recovery.

A common misconception is that Twelve Steps programmes are religious – they are spiritual and treat the individual holistically (as a whole) rather than just addressing one aspect of the addicition.12 step programs rely on peer support – studies have shown that a recovered alcoholic can be a great help aiding others through their journey to sobriety. The basis of the 12 step program is the founded on experience by the earliest founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The twelve steps are:

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

Actually admitting that drinking has become a problem is the biggest hurdle to seeking treatment and help. Alcoholics may spend a long time making excuses or justifying reasons for their drinking. An ability to maintain a home, a career, or family life may be enough to convince a drinker that their drinking isn’t really a problem, when in their heart of hearts they know that it is.

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

Moving from step one to step two requires the addict to admit that they do not have control over their lives and that an addicts life style does not sit well with sanity. This is not necessarily a religious “power” for in fact the 12 step process is not based on religion, but spirituality. There is a saying in 12 step programs – fake it til you make it. The key phrase here is “CAME to believe..” Many followers of the 12 step program find that by praying to their higher power spirituality slowly grows.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

This fourth step is often a big worry to those entering into a 12 step program, but making an “inventory” of oneself is a very useful way to see what feelings and experiences. Identifying our faults is the first step to changing them for the better.

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

Admitting to a peer or mentor all the wrongs in your life stemming from problematic drinking is often the first time a person has actually voiced these confessions out loud, never mind to another person. It may be difficult, but they shall not be judged.

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

Again – the God “as we understood him” is the key phrase. Many atheists or non-religious people may see nature or similar as their higher power.

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

This step of the process is all about willingness to actually change. Having completed step four the recovering alcoholic has a better understanding of their faults and character defects and can seek help to improve them

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

This step involves the problem drinker to have willingness to change, honesty with themselves and taking action. It is important to remember the relationship with the chosen “Higher Force.”  Sadly many do not get as far as this step and their rehabilitation from alcohol may lapse and be unsuccessful. Individuals have to play close attention to personal development, especial through stages four to nine, and then maintain their sobriety by using the rest of the steps as a way of life.

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

Addiction changes people and casts a shadow over their whole character. Someone with a previously sunny disposition may become withdrawn and moody. The Obsession with drinking takes over and an alcoholic will go to any lengths to justify or excuse their drinking. An alcoholic may lose interest in activities and hobbies that they enjoyed before. Both the detrimental effects of alcohol on the body and mind have negative effects. Direct amends should be made 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

The tenth step is a reminder to continue to live a better life and maintain integrity continuing to be honest and aware of weaknesses helps improve personal self-worth and relationships with others. .

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.

If the recovering alcoholic has made it to this eleventh step then they will probably have gained some degree of spirituality and a better sense of self. They must continue to work on this path, incorporating their new philosophy to help bring peace and tranquillity to their everyday life.

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.

The last of the twelve steps involves helping other alcoholics and spreading the word of the organisation.  12 step programs insist that only the drinker themselves can truly decide whether or not they are an alcoholic. It is shown that alcoholism is not an illness that one can be cured, as such, but it can be arrested if total abstinence from alcohol is observed.
Those choosing a twelve step program will not be expected to follow or accept the twelve steps in their entirety if they feel unable or not willing to. They will be encouraged to attend regular meetings, and to keep an open mind. Meetings give alcoholics a safe and secure space to talk about their journey to sobriety. AA participants are also required to read literature about the program and how it can be interpreted in ways acceptable to those who find the “God” aspects difficult.
12 step groups like A.A tend to be autonomous in their running and are not for profit. In the case of AA no membership fee is required; the only requirement for membership is a true desire to give up alcohol.