In our ongoing deep dive into the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program, this month, we consider the significance of Step Three. Note how each step evolves organically from the last:
Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step Two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The first two steps lay the foundation for this momentous act of faith that is the essence of Step Three—to submit our will to the care of our Higher Power. Step Three is one of the most difficult of all the Steps. Those individuals who don’t have a history of participating in a particular faith belief system can struggle somewhat with this concept.
The beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous is that the program meets you where you are. There is great latitude in what constitutes your Higher Power, providing each person the freedom to define it as they wish. For some, a Higher Power is a religious entity, but for others, it may be anything or anyone that inspires them to make fundamental life changes.
About Step Three in Alcoholics Anonymous
Where the first two steps of the 12 Step Program were cognitive, based on thoughts or reflections, Step Three is an action step. This step requires us to move forward in recovery underneath the umbrella of a Higher Power, fully submitting to its protection, provision, and Will to guide your way.
The 12 Step Program is about embracing spiritual growth. By accepting Step Three, you make a proactive choice, a decision, to surrender your recovery journey to your Higher Power. This step embodies the concept of “Let go and let God,” versus muscling your way through the recovery journey on your own volition. Indeed, the key to moving beyond the disease of addiction starts with the decision to submit to your Higher Power.
The Third Step paves the way for the next important step, a difficult step that requires the painstaking process of taking a self-inventory. Unless we have willingly submitted our recovery to our Higher Power, we are not really capable of completing Step Four in an honest and thorough way. Step Three provides the foundation for the balance of the 12 Step Program.
Consider Alumni Coordinator Louis M’s experience with Step Three:
“Making a decision to turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power was explained very well to me after the second step. Through having this honest and open conversation with a sponsor I was able to realize that this is not an action step. This is a decision, much like countless decisions I’ve made in the past, except this one I was going to stick too. My sponsor told me if I wanted to work this step, do a fourth and fifth step. Faith without works is dead became my motto here, and I began working fearlessly and thoroughly on my fourth step.”
Work the Twelve Steps Along with Other Aftercare Actions
While Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Step Program is a central piece of the recovery game plan, its effect on your journey can be further amplified through simultaneous participation in other aftercare actions. These are the activities you embrace in early recovery to help cement all that is learned and accomplished in treatment.
Reinforce recovery efforts through these continuing care efforts:
- Transitional Housing. When your home environment is not supportive of recovery goals it may be helpful to reside in sober living housing for a period of time.
- Outpatient Services. Outpatient therapy and support groups provide the ongoing psychological support that is so important during the first year of recovery.
- Healthy Habits. Strengthen your mind and body through healthy lifestyle habits. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and quality sleep will enhance overall wellness.
- Sober Friendships. Continue to nurture a new cadre of sober friendships through sober social events, sober Meetup groups, and through your recovery community.
As you learn about the Third Step you will find at its core a simple concept—to trust. Step into your recovery more fully by embracing Step Three. Allow yourself to explore your spiritual path while learning to trust in your Higher Power. The Serenity Prayer sums it up so perfectly:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.