The twelve steps were first published in 1938, at the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous, by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. Since then over 200 different fellowships, with millions of members worldwide, have used the twelve-step model to overcome a wide variety of addictive behaviors.
While the twelve step model is certainly not the only viable recovery model, it has by far helped the most people find freedom from addiction. Most recovering addicts and alcoholics who have worked the steps will tell you that the twelve steps do not just deal with substance abuse cessation; they signal a radical shift in your perspective and conduct. The twelve steps do not just address the drug use, they address the underlying factors that have contributed to it and that tend to reemerge with a vengeance as soon as the drug of choice is ripped away.
The foundation of the twelve-step model is surrender. Steps 1-3 deal with turning your self over to a higher power. Fundamental to this is an admission of powerlessness over your addiction (step 1) and a realization that since there is no hope left in your own efforts, hope must be found in a power greater than yourself (step 2). These realizations require a point of decision and surrender to that higher power (step 3). Although the twelve-step model is not tied to any particular religion or faith tradition, the vast majority of people who work the steps have a spiritual awakening at some point. For many, this happens during their third step prayer.
Surrender is a huge blow to pride, and this opens the way for honesty, confession, and self-disclosure. In steps 4 and 5, you inventory and confess the exact nature of your wrongs. As these things come into the light, you become ready for God to remove those character defects (step 6) and ask God to do so (step 7).
In step 8, you recognize the ways in which you have harmed many people in your life through drug and alcohol addiction, and in step 9, you make amends wherever possible. This process of personal inventory and repair never ceases (step 10).
Step 11 calls for a continued, vital spiritual life through prayer to God, however you may understand him/her, and step 12 calls for you to take the message of hope and healing through surrender and honesty to others who still labor under the bonds of addiction.
At Serenity House, we implement a twelve-step model through our Recovery Dynamics curriculum. Learn more about our residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs, or call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline (866.795.HOPE) to start the process of admission.