What is a 12-step Program?
The original 12-step program was created as a part of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship in 1935. Today, 12-step programs are used by hundreds of different organizations for people addicted to substances or behaviors other than alcohol across the globe, adapted to fit the needs of each group.
At its core, the 12-step program is meant to provide a kind of path for people to follow as they begin their new, sober lives. The program also serves as a support system, with regularly scheduled meetings providing a safe space for people to share their feelings, experiences, and difficulties with others who are going through the same process.
The Comprehensive 12-Step 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: We’re 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 Six: Ready and Willing
While every step of the program is important and requires a person’s full commitment, the sixth step is particularly significant because of how it builds on many of the previous steps.
Much like Steps One and Three, Step Six requires taking action. Step One required being able to be honest with yourself and accept that you were no longer in control of your life.
Step Three focused on understanding that there are circumstances beyond your control and the need to stop fighting against them, and, instead, turn yourself over to a higher power and trust in its guidance.
Step Six also asks for another show of internal commitment to not just the program, but also to the recovery process as a whole. Working on Step Six requires taking the flaws you inventoried in Step Four and demonstrating a willingness and readiness to remove them from your life.
While just being “ready” might sound easy, it’s harder than it seems, as it requires being prepared to strip away negative behaviors that have, in their own way, become sources of comfort. Wallowing in jealousy or resentment is a whole lot easier than embracing love and trust. Step Six requires a complete change in much of the way we operate.
For some, this step can feel unnecessary. After all, what do character flaws like lying or jealousy have to do with sobriety? The answer is, of course, almost everything. Just stopping drinking without addressing these internal issues makes you more likely to end up in situations that could trigger a relapse. It also can turn you into what some refer to as a “dry drunk,” meaning someone who has stopped drinking but found other outlets for unhealthy behaviors and is still struggling with feelings of bitterness or resentment.
Recovery applies to every aspect of your life because nearly every part of the way you were living your life before becoming sober contributed to your addiction. Working on Step Six means embracing a readiness to commit entirely to recovery as it pertains to sobriety and to becoming a better, fuller person.
Four Tips for Working on Step Six
- Understand that while Step Six is phrased as having God, or whichever higher power you have chosen to put your faith in, remove these character defects, they’re not going to do the job for you. What it does mean, though, is that if you are willing to put in the work required to remove these flaws, you can trust that God will help to ensure your success.
- Trying to tackle all of your defects at once can seem impossible, and probably is. This process is not meant to be a week or month-long endeavor. Instead of setting yourself up for failure, take it slow, one defect at a time, making sure to celebrate each victory to keep yourself motivated.
- Think about the attitudes behind each character defect. Just vowing to stop feeling resentful or prideful or being dishonest isn’t going to be enough to actually follow through on that promise in the long-term. You need to dig beneath these surface feelings to the root of what made these behaviors so ingrained in the first place. Once you understand where they come from, you’ll be more successful in cutting them from your life.
- Rather than thinking of Step Six as giving up defects, it might be more beneficial to see it as transforming negative behaviors into positive ones. For example, if lying is one of these defects, instead of framing it as “I will stop lying,” try “I won’t keep secrets from the people who care about me,” or “I will feel better about myself when I tell the truth.
Like all the steps before and after it, Step Six asks for a lot of change that probably won’t come all at once. It’s important to remember that this is okay, and that change takes time. The key is not giving up and continuing to make your way forward through both the 12 steps and your addiction recovery journey.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse and looking for help to make a change, we at California Highlands Addiction Treatment are here for you. Contact us online or call anytime at 888-969-8755 and our dedicated addiction specialists will be there to answer any of your questions and explain our variety of treatment options that can fit your individual needs.