The 12 steps are widely known, even outside the world of recovery. They are often the first thing that comes to mind when “addiction recovery” is mentioned; they are widely recognized as a method of treatment with a long history and a widespread inclusive community. But there are also misconceptions about the 12 steps. To some, they seem too traditional or old-fashioned. Others might think the steps are too focused on religion or too narrow in scope. But the 12 steps are not meant to be so literal — the principles and philosophies behind this model of recovery are more important than the steps themselves, and at Enlightened Solutions, we encourage an open-minded approach while upholding the steps’ central purpose.
As you learn more about substance use disorders during treatment at Enlightened Solutions, you will become familiar with the 12 steps and with 12 step philosophy. We not only believe that there is much to be learned from the steps and their mission, but we also want to set our clients up for success in the long run and give them a long-term recovery community through 12 step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
What Do the 12 Steps Do for Us in Recovery?
When we talk about the 12 steps during treatment, we use them as guidelines for being well-rounded, present, and respectful toward all those we come into contact with, in our treatment program and beyond. We also use them as a means of learning to set and achieve our goals and to remember what it feels like to accomplish a productive, healthy task. The steps build on each other as we share our teachings and life skills for future use. It’s important to take the time to visualize the benefits of each step in the 12 steps and to recognize when we are ready to advance to the next level. We have created a network of resources for each client to draw from in every aspect of their recovery, and long after their treatment is completed.
In addition, while we don’t stress any particular belief in religion at Enlightened Solutions, we do encourage spirituality as an outlet for stress relief and comfort — no matter what spirituality may mean to you. The 12 steps allow each person to explore this and to discover their own “higher power.” We always ask that everyone respect the individual beliefs of every person in treatment here at Enlightened Solutions. Above all, we share a common goal of changing our lives for the better, holistically.
What Are the 12 Steps?
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
This step is a challenge; it requires humility and self-awareness that addiction often takes away. While it only requires one moment to commit to and accomplish this step, it can take many months or years before an individual reaches a tipping point and sees the truth of their situation.
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Addiction cannot be accomplished on your own. It requires faith and trust, and a purpose to life other than staying alive day to day. This step is about finding a higher power and meaning, whether that is a religious power or an abstract force; this is essential to believing that recovery is possible.
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
We must learn to accept our own human limitations and put our lives in the hands of our higher power. This step encourages us to recognize our humanity, flaws and all, so we can let go of the things that are holding us back from achieving sobriety and fulfillment.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Self-awareness and self-critique lead to self-improvement. This step helps us become unafraid to look deeply into ourselves and recognize and admit our weaknesses so we can learn how to improve upon them. This step is often best accompanied by individual talk therapy, so your counselor can guide your process.
Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
It is one thing to have a sense in your own mind that you are not perfect, but it is another to say it aloud. Step 5 teaches us to overcome addiction and to move forward in life, through becoming comfortable admitting when you are wrong or when you have caused harm to others.
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Part of recovering from addiction is understanding that your life is beyond your control. With this step, you can let go of the stress and pressure of trying to overcome your problems on your own. Then, you make room for something beyond yourself to take over and guide you.
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
We are only human, but we can strive to be the best version of ourselves. With faith in a higher power, we can believe that it is possible to improve upon our flaws — this step allows us to work toward becoming our best sober selves.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
This step offers a concrete exercise that is immensely helpful in a therapeutic setting. As you come to terms with your addiction and the way it has shaped your life, you can also see how it has affected those around you. Naming these individuals and accepting that our actions have consequences for others is an essential realization in the recovery process.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Holding on to guilt or blame causes more subconscious distress than we realize, and it leads to a buildup of negativity in our lives that holds us back and drags us down. In this step, you go through the process of apologizing or admitting your faults to those you have hurt to provide an emotional release for both yourself and those with whom you make amends.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Understanding that you are only human is not a one-time realization. It is a lifelong change in the way you view yourself. This step leads to regular check-ins with yourself to understand where you have made progress and where you still need to work on being the best person possible.
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.
Trust in your higher power will give you the ability to feel like you are working toward a greater purpose in life. When you are struggling with addiction, you feel lost, and you lack the motivation to move forward — but with this step, you can feel driven and empowered again.
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 final step is an invitation to a lifelong journey of recovery. After completing the steps, it becomes your mission to uphold the philosophies of the 12 steps in your life and to share them with others as a mentor, sponsor or friend.
The 12 Steps Help Us To:
- Recognize there is an issue we need to address
- Understand that we need help when things get out of hand
- Instill the belief in ourselves that we can overcome substance use disorder
- Remain mindful of our spiritual needs and take comfort in a higher power, whatever that may be
- Realize we have autonomy and can move toward happiness, joy, and fulfillment each day with each practice
- Take stock of everything we’ve done in our life, both good and bad, to realize who we are and how to be better in the future
- Discern right from wrong and to be mindful of how far we’ve come or need to go
- Realize we have our own power and are supported by others who share in the recovery process
- Realize that we can change
- Develop the strength to admit our faults
- Understand the strength in getting to know ourselves intimately and how mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude can help us achieve wellness and recovery
- Trust ourselves to keep the promises we have made to ourselves, friends, and family