Addiction Recovery Programs: How The 12 Steps Work

In Alcohol Anonymous, as with many other, In Alcohol Anonymous, as with many other addiction recovery programs, there are usually 12 steps on the path to recovery. These 12 steps are founded on spiritual principles to help the person recovering from addiction and their loved ones. The steps go beyond just helping a person overcome addiction; they shine the light on a new and better lifestyle.

The first question many ask is how effective the steps are in overcoming addiction. But knowing how the steps work helps you determine whether it is effective. Effectiveness is relative; a significant percentage of people drop out of these programs, and it has nothing to do with the steps. A few have a relapse, though the recorded success rate outshines the negative.

How the Steps Work

The 12 steps work together to provide an achievable recovery program that has proven effective in all types of substance abuse. They chart a path to take members from addiction to sobriety and a better way of life.

There are adaptions of the original 12 steps from Alcohol Anonymous, with different recovery programs that use the 12-step practice tailoring the steps to fit their specific purpose. But the premise stays the same for each step, whether you are in a 12-step drug rehab program or any other type. 

The following are the steps and the principles behind them. You may be better able to put them into practice when you understand how each step works.

  • Honesty

This is the first step on the road to recovery. Many addicts have a hard time admitting that they are addicted to a substance. But the path to recovery begins when you tell yourself the truth. You can better open your mind to possibilities if you admit to yourself that you are addicted to a substance and have no control over it anymore.

  • Faith

After admitting the truth to yourself and your loved ones, you must believe that there is a power bigger than you that can help you recover. Since you are powerless over the addiction, you will need something greater to help you. And the power cannot work on your behalf if you do not believe in it; that is the place of faith.

  • Surrender

Next to believing in outside and greater power than yourself is surrender. You must give yourself over and wholly to this power after recognizing and acknowledging that your recovery is out of your hands. But the decision is yours alone to make before there is progress.

  • Soul Searching

While in recovery, it is crucial to do some soul searching. It helps you realize where the problem started and how the addiction affected those around you. Addiction has a significant impact on the lives of loved ones, even when they say nothing about it. 

The same is even truer when there are children around you. Ultimately, society is indirectly impacted by the same problem. This step helps you avoid behaviors similar to those that cause the problem in the first place.

  • Integrity

This step is, perhaps, a hard one if you are not used to admitting to wrongdoings or faults. Here, you must admit to what you have done wrong in front of the power you acknowledge as supreme. There must also be a person present when you make the admission.

  • Humility

Asking someone else to do something for you because of your inability to do it takes humility. It means you have come to a place where sheer will or determination can take you no further. Recovery and freedom can only come outside yourself, from a higher power.

  • Willingness

In step 8, you will need to make a list or lists of people negatively affected by your addiction. It may be family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers,or just about anyone. It may take some time to remember everyone you came across and may have hurt one way or another, but you will eventually get there. Click here: to learn more about this step.

  • Forgiveness

The lists you make in step 8 will come in handy in step 9. It is a tough call to ask for and receive forgiveness, especially if you think the fault is not entirely yours. The same applies if the addiction stemmed from someone else’s fault. But forgiveness is a crucial recovery step; you do not have to remain friends but do not burden yourself with bitterness and hatred.

  • Maintenance

Never give up in your quest for forgiveness from those hurt by your addiction. For many people, admitting they are wrong is like a bone stuck in the throat. But if you are to continue successfully in the program, it is crucial to do it. This step helps you maintain your spiritual progress.

  • Making Contact

After spending so long connected to the higher power you believe in, you become more attuned to what it says as you recover. It is possible to get a clear picture of what it has planned as your purpose in life. Knowing it and setting out on that road will help abstinence and total recovery.

  • Service

You must take the message of all you have learned to others suffering from substance abuse to tell them it is possible to overcome it. You must also apply the principles behind each step to your life because in them is true success in abstaining.

You can see that each step works together with the next from the above. Check out this article to learn more about how the steps work and the traditions behind them. It is one program broken down into 12 steps, and the steps must come one after another for the program to work in the correct order. It applies to every recovery program using the 12-step model.


When the 12 steps were written, the aim was to channel the person’s energy to something bigger than themselves and find meaning in life. If they focus on service and helping others, it may be more difficult to find any appeal in destructive habits. In other words, it is a way to submit completely to a power that can control anything in a good way.

Always seek help for anyone around you addicted to any substance or destructive lifestyle. Many rehab centers abound in the country, and you will be saving several lives when you help just one person overcome a substance abuse disorder.

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