For many people in recovery from substance abuse, focusing on their commitment to sobriety daily keeps them grounded. To put it first and foremost in their minds brings purpose to the decision to leave addiction behind for good. This is not always an easy thing to do, which is why recovering substance users join a 12-step program that helps them build a solid foundation for their new life.
What Is a 12-step Program?
A 12-step program uses a set of principles—12 of them—to support people who want the most out of their addiction treatment and recovery. Participants who join these free or low-cost programs attended regularly scheduled meetings in a church or other public places to share their stories and bond with others who are on similar journeys.
The groups offer a safe space for participants to express their fears, weaknesses, and personal truths while helping others who are also overcoming a battle with substance abuse. 12-step programs are part of recovery programs because they offer a foundation to grow from and help the person focus on what’s in their control and what’s not.
Widely known 12-step programs include:
Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)
Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
Gamblers Anonymous (GA)
Alcoholics Anonymous, an international fellowship focused on helping people with drinking problems, was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson. The organization has served as the model for other 12-step programs, including non-religious ones designed to offer an alternative to programs with a religious or spiritual focus. Participants may also have a sponsor to guide them through the process
The Comprehensive 12-steps List:
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step 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.
Step 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
Step Seven: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Throughout the 12-step process, recovering substance users become aware of how their past use of addictive substances led to destruction and chaos that spiraled out of their control.
Step 1 focuses on users admitting that life has become unmanageable as a result of their addictions and that help is needed with recovering from addiction. Each step builds upon another.
Step 6 is about being entirely ready to have God (or a Higher Power of your understanding) to remove all defects of character, including self-centeredness, which some people say is the opposite of humility. Before one can ask, they have to be ready and able to ask. So, if you do not feel truly ready, go back to Step 6 and complete that one before moving on to Step 7. Being ready means acknowledging any roadblocks that arise when asking for help from a Higher Power, among them fear, doubt, and shame.
A key concept in Step 7 is humility and what it means to practice humility as a way of life. Alcoholics Anonymous addresses humans’ aversion to the idea of being humble in Step 7 of the 12 steps and cautions that it takes a long, long time for people to not back away from it. “A whole lifetime geared to self-centeredness cannot be set in reverse all at once. Rebellion dogs our every step at first,” AA writes.
The organization also addresses the perspective that humility is seen as an “avenue to true freedom of the human spirit” and a quality to be desired as a personal virtue. Even if recovering substance users are not convinced they want to be humble or express humility when they arrive at this step, they may eventually conclude it is an aid that is necessary to their survival, AA says. To do so can bring a peace of mind and broaden one’s view of what it means to practice humility.
Once there is a desire to move forward from shortcomings and enjoy a peace of mind, recovering users can move out from themselves and toward others and a higher spiritual being to ask that limitations that prevent them from being their best are removed.
Another benefit of this step, according to Alcoholics Anonymous, is that when one sees their character defects have been “based upon shortsighted or unworthy desires,” they will also begin to see how the demands they have placed upon themselves, upon others, and upon God have been unreasonable. This step, then, can help program participants see themselves in a more realistic light.
Four Things to Do to Practice Step 7
To grow in humility requires action. Here are four ways to practice it:
Take time to reflect upon your journey. Use this time to pray to a Higher Power or read a religious or inspirational text of your choice or 12-step program literature as you work on becoming humble. Personal reflection helps slow the world down so you can take a time out and think about where you are, where you’ve been, and where you are going.
Humility is the roadmap to spiritual growth that promotes change for the better. You have to determine what being humble means to you and how you will demonstrate that to yourself and others.
Remain open to being vulnerable. Being humble involves being truthful with ourselves about where we fall short, and there is a great deal of vulnerability in that. There also is vulnerability in being open about the fact that we need help in correcting the shortcomings we face. Once personal struggles have been identified, and the desire to change is there, perhaps it will be easier to recognize the need to ask for help and open to receiving it. However, one has to first believe they need help before they can petition to have shortcomings removed.
Be aware of your imperfections. Everyone, whether they are in a 12-step program or not, has things they can work on to be a better person. They also have to know what they are before they can decide to work on them. As you work toward improving yourself, take care to remain aware of what you say and do and how you act. As you go about your daily routine, embrace opportunities to learn about how you perceive the world and how you are perceived. These are the times when you can help you fine-tune your awareness about what you need to work on. Seek feedback from people who want to see you grow and improve.
Learn to let go. Do what you can do and trust that the Higher Power you have asked to remove your shortcomings will do the rest. This will mean letting of negative behaviors, such as defensiveness or passive-aggressiveness, which keep us from hearing what others have to say or keep us focused on ourselves and the things that hold us back. The feedback you get can help you remain in a humble state and figure out how to be the person you know you are called to be. Letting go also means learning to detach and trust that everything will work out.
Need addiction treatment? Give Us a Call
Twelve-step programs keep many people in recovery on the path that is right for them. We at California Highlands Addiction Treatment know how important it is that people with alcohol or dependence find a rehab program they can trust to meet their needs.
If you or your loved one is interested in entering a rehabilitation facility, call California Highlands Addiction Treatment today at 888-969-8755 for a free consultation and assessment. Just one phone call can start you on your way to a life of sobriety.