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What Are The Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

March 18, 2019

The structure of The Twelve Steps is a distillation of the processes and circumstances of one’s journey into recovery. Although every person brings their own struggles to their addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous brings people together in an informal setting that allows community and fellowship to bridge the gap between a solo quest and a supporting circle of fellow travelers.

The Twelve Steps are streamlined to be a succinct and clear reckoning to a person addicted to alcohol and contain words of affirmation and of accountability.

Step One: We Admitted We Were Powerless Over Alcohol—That Our Lives Had Become Unmanageable

This step is more than an admission of addiction. It transcends the verbal acknowledgment of addiction by giving you ownership of your condition and your recovery. It is a declaration that you have accepted your condition and acknowledged the ramifications of the alcohol’s damage to your life. This helps you seek out and accept the help you need. Through this admission, you are shifting the power and taking responsibility to make positive and lasting changes.

Step Two: Came To Believe That A Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us To Sanity

Not every individual entering into recovery comes to the table with this belief and it is a deeply personal concession. It’s hard to admit that the power to change rests not only in us, but in something beyond us. This is a step that many, both believers and non-believers, may skip. However, skipping this step can be detrimental to your recovery as this helps provide strength and focus in your recovery.

Step Three: Made A Decision To Turn Our Will And Our Lives Over To The Care Of God As We Understood Him

This step works on the foundation and admissions of the first two steps. You are making a conscious decision to turn over your will and self-care to something greater, by seeking to walk a path that is more spiritual and open-minded. It is this letting go that grants you the room to breathe, by creating a recovery space that is manageable and accountable, allowing you to grow forward into their recovery.

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Step Four: Made A Searching And Fearless Moral Inventory Of Ourselves

Shame is one of the most prevalent emotions in the life of a person who is addicted to alcohol. There is a vast difference between this type of self-criticism and the main tenant of this step. One is vastly detrimental while the other is crucial to achieving freedom from addiction. Here, it is imperative that you acknowledge shame and the breadth of your emotions. You will begin to foster a humility and understanding that is necessary for success. Here you learn that you are not the terrible person that you built yourself up to be within your mind.

Step Five: Admitted To God, To Ourselves, And To Another Human Being The Exact Nature Of Our Wrongs

You must now strive to remove the blame from your life in order to benefit from these admittances. This step propels you closer to an absolution of the guilt and blame you harbor towards your self and those who have hurt you. Now is the time to get specific about your wrongdoings for maximum efficacy of your recovery. You can confide in anyone, or continue to build on the sanctity of trust between you and your sponsor.

Step Six: We’re Entirely Ready To Have God Remove All These Defects Of Character

This step is a call to action. In previous steps, you acknowledged and outlined the defective and harmful thoughts and circumstances within your life. Now, you must accept a willingness to change and begin the process of cleaning these deficient and negative behaviors from your life. In keeping with the pursuit of a more disciplined and spiritual life, it is here you strive to embrace mindfulness, dwelling on the notion that you will do your work and your Higher Power will meet you halfway.

Step Seven: Humbly Asked Him To Remove Our Shortcomings

Through your introspection and the profession of your flaws, you have granted yourself a greater sense of humility. It is now that you must bring these flaws, and any doubts you may have to God through a constant adherence to daily prayer. It is through this faith and perseverance that you invite your Higher Power to take all the work you’ve done and continue to proliferate the positive growth in your life.

Step Eight: Made A List Of All Persons We Had Harmed, And Became Willing To Make Amends To Them All

Through the previous steps you have become more comfortable with being introspective, humble, and honest. And you have begun to understand the detrimental impact of being overly self-critical. But now you need to make a list of all the people you have harmed and consider ways to make amends with them. Secondly, you must re-embrace the spirit of willingness and genuinely desire the opportunity to make these amends in order to gain levity and healing.

Step Nine: Made Direct Amends To Such People Wherever Possible, Except When To Do So Would Injure Them or Others

Do not attempt this step on your own: instead, execute it with your sponsor. Let them direct you as to the best approach for each person on your amends list. Each requires a different approach, as each situation was different. Due to this, there may be some people that your sponsor advises you to hold off contacting, as this could hurt them more or make them angry. Often, people may not react as you desire as they may not be ready to forgive. It is important to remember that you are making these amends within your heart and that is ultimately where the greatest benefit and healing resides.

Step Ten: Continued To Take Personal Inventory And When We Were Wrong Promptly Admitted It

This step is primarily about maintenance and occurs on a daily basis to nip any growing resentments or negative behaviors. Start by mediating on your day, both on the things you struggled with and the things that made you happy. It is important to keep a balanced awareness of the two. Secondly, look at your day and ask yourself if the way you carried yourself was in line with your Higher Power’s will or your own. Lastly, and perhaps the most proactive of the three, consider engaging in a continuous “spot-check” throughout the day by taking pause to ruminate on your actions and reactions.

Step Eleven: 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

Your success is apt to be jeopardized unless you are able to step outside of your constraints and constantly reaffirm your affinity to your Higher Power. By acknowledging that you are not in control and asking for direction, you ensure a balance that lends itself to both your spiritual and physical recovery. This is a time where it is helpful to seek the fellowship of others that share your beliefs, either through organized religion or simply through the discourse of common philosophies.

Step Twelve: Having Had A Spiritual Awakening As The Result Of These Steps, We Tried To Carry This Message To Others And To practice These Principles In All Our Affairs

Manifestation of this step is commonly called an intervention. At this point, having worked through the previous twelve steps, you have a skill set that will enable you to reach out and help others that are struggling with issues that are similar to your own. By reaching out and doing service work, you are given a lens by which to look introspectively upon yourself and affirming your recovery solidarity.

The Twelve Steps are a tried and true framework that grants you the accountability, support, and stability that is crucial to your success. If you have any questions about an alcohol addiction, The Twelve Steps, or a rehabilitation program for alcohol, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

To View “Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous” Infographic Click HERE

Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Annonymous

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