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.”
Our monthly journey toward gaining a better understanding of the 12-step program culminates now with step 12. By the time we arrive at step 12, we have already experienced a fundamental transformation in the way we live our lives in sobriety. The 12 building blocks of the 12-step program have helped us rebuild our character, our relationships and our spirit.
To retrace this journey, let’s review the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore our sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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 power to carry that out.
- 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 12 contains three specific mandates:
- Having had a spiritual awakening: Participating in the 12-step program leads to a transformation that is rooted in a newly formed or deepened connection with our higher power. This spiritual growth fuels our desire to live life in a new way that is based on the tenets of the 12-step program. Consider these actions to increase spiritual growth:
- Set some time aside for daily prayer or reflection.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Consider participating in a spiritually-focused fellowship group.
- Carry this message to others who are dealing with alcoholism: Spreading the message of hope to others that are struggling with a substance use disorder is a central focus of the 12-step program. The founders of A.A. held a strong conviction that giving back to others is vital to sustaining one’s own recovery. Here are some ways to give back:
- Volunteer to help at 12-step meetings.
- Consider becoming a sponsor.
- Volunteer at local community organizations.
- Practice these principles in all our affairs: Completing the 12-step program provides us with the tools to live life in a profoundly different way. Step 12 reminds us of this unique opportunity to improve all facets of life by practicing the steps daily. Some examples of practicing the 12-step principles:
- Taking responsibility for our mistakes and making amends for them genuinely.
- Pause and take a personal inventory to assess any problems or behaviors that threaten our recovery.
- Commit to allowing your higher power to guide you daily.
The 12-step program as a recipe for life
Most of us have learned the hard way what happens when we attempt to cook a recipe for a particular dish and omit a key ingredient. Chances are the dish just tasted “off,” too salty or too sweet, too spicy or too bland, and you felt disappointed in the outcome.
The same can be said for the 12-step program. Consider the 12 steps as the ingredients, and the finished product, the spiritual awakening, as the tasty result of sticking to the recipe. This recipe provides you with a comprehensive roadmap for interacting with others in daily life, growing in the virtues of humility, gratitude, and commitment on a personal level.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307