The 12 Steps of AA Explained: Overcoming Addiction

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Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for around 80 years, and for many people has become synonymous with alcohol rehabilitation. In turn, the 12 Steps of AA has become known around the world as an effective sequence of stages to recover from addiction.

But what are the 12 Steps of AA and how do they work?

As science, medicine and our understanding of the human body continue to develop, attitudes and best practices around tackling addiction are constantly changing too. As a result, there are many different ways to tackle alcohol addiction now days.

Whereas Alcoholics Anonymous started as a religious organisation focused on using faith in God to defeat addiction, the famous AA 12 steps and 12 traditions are still commonly in use, both in religious groups and others who retool the 12 steps slightly.

Here at Serenity Centres, we use the most up-to-date research and scientific findings to create personalised recovery plans for each and every patient, meaning you can attend one of our detox facilities without ever hearing about the 12 steps in AA, but we can also help you go through them if you prefer and our experts believe it can be an effective recovery path for you.

For those who are interested in having the AA 12 steps explained or who would like to go through them at home, we have listed the complete AA 12 steps (UK and elsewhere) here for you!

But first:

What is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous began as a community-based support group programme intended to help alcoholics withdraw safely from alcohol without relapsing.

The programme was built around the idea that giving people a place to come together and discuss their struggles with alcohol would help them to motivate each other, learn from each other, and more easily tackle their issues with addiction.

The whole concept works around the idea that alcohol is an illness that can’t be entirely controlled but can be managed.

The original AA 12 steps book, Alcoholics Anonymous, was published in 1939. Whereas AA was originally a Christian organization and all of the steps were focused around God, it has now splintered into many different groups and both religious and secular versions of the 12 step programme can be found.

Let’s a look at how the 12 steps look today:

AA 12 Steps List

The AA’s 12 step approach is to follow these steps one by one, never moving onto the next one until you’re 100% sure you’ve completely achieved the step you’re currently on.

You can go backwards and revisit steps anytime you need to, but each step needs to be completed before you can move forwards: 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

For those of you who aren’t religious, or perhaps would simply prefer a simpler to understand breakdown of these 12 steps, let’s take a look at what they can be taken to mean in the 21st century.

Non-Religious 12 Steps Version

  1. Admit you have a problem, to your loved ones and yourself. Recovery is impossible without this step.
  2. Truly believe that you can get better through help, hard work and following the correct procedures
  3. Make a decision to throw yourself entirely into recovery and trust that constant reaffirmation and following medical advice can and will lead to recovery.
  4. Spend some time meditating and focusing on thinking about who you are and your life so far. What are you proud of? What are you not? Are you ready to focus on what you’re proud of and remove the rest from your life?
  5. Be completely honest to yourself and anybody who cares to ask – you have lost control. Alcoholism is a disease and not your fault, but you can overcome it as long as you aren’t in denial.
  6. Be 100% ready to remove your addiction and have no doubt in your mind that you do not want to drink ever again, even if your cravings try to tell you otherwise.
  7. Be aware of your weaknesses, and avoid people, places or situations that can tempt you to drink.
  8. Think of everybody your addiction has ever harmed or hurt, and think about how proud and happy you’ll be when you recover and make things up to all of them
  9. Actually physically contact these people and offer kind gestures or gifts to apologise for your past behaviour. This doesn’t only work to fix things up between you, but solidifies in your own mind your past transgressions and why you will never commit them again.
  10. Continue to be aware of all of the above throughout your entire recovery process. Catch yourself before you fall into them again, and if somebody else points out that you have, be humble, admit it, and fix it. Getting defensive or denying it makes recovery impossible.
  11. If you are religious, pray. If you aren’t, meditate. Either way, spend time focusing on your issue, what you need to accomplish, and why it’s so important to you.
  12. Once you regain control of your life and recover, remember the 12 steps to prevent relapse, pass on the 12 steps to others and use them to help any alcoholics you come across who need help.

Following the above steps is a great way to keep reminding yourself why you want to recover from alcohol addiction, and can make detoxing yourself from home and avoiding relapse a lot easier.

Recovering from alcohol addiction is no walk in the park, however, and if you believe you need help to regain control of your life, feel free to contact our friendly rehabilitation experts at any time on 0800 118 2892.

They are ready and waiting to give you free, no-obligation advice on things like:

  • The 12 steps of AA recovery
  • Your local rehabilitation facilities and therapy groups
  • NHS services in your area
  • Our world-leading alcohol addiction treatments and facilities
  • Our unique and effective Home Detox programme

We even offer free tours of our rehab facilities so check out our Locations to see if we have a rehab facility near you, and go to Admissions to book your free tour!

Overcoming alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging things a person can go through but it’s also completely possible with the right help, and our staff have already helped countless patients get their lives back on track, so don’t be afraid – get in touch now!

We also offer alternative treatments for alcohol addiction which have evolved over time such as the Sinclair method which can be very effective. Contact us to discuss all of the options available and for help to support an alcoholic in recovery.

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