The Twelve Steps

As a community service, LCCS offers this non comprehensive elucidation of “the 12 Steps.” Please note that while we are in favor of our clients using 12-Step recovery in their personal lives when appropriate, LCCS is a professional counseling office. We do not offer 12-Step meetings in our office, we do not sponsor clients through the 12-Steps, nor do we represent any specific 12-Step fellowship. Please see 12-Step Recovery Support Groups for more information about finding a 12-Step meeting in your area. 


Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over (our drug of choice) — that our lives had become unmanageable: 

The First Step, said to be the only absolute requirement for recovery, requires an admission that your problematic behavior was neither a bad habit nor a cultural difference, but an addiction. Two hallmark features of an addictive process is the presence of powerlessness and unmanageability.  Powerlessness over the use of one’s drug of choice or the behavior associated with use and a pattern of unmanageability associated with the use or behavior that represents undesired consequences.  The First Step does not signify surrender. For some it is barely more than a resignation to abstinence. The relief obtained from the admission found in the First Step will be short lived if not followed by the pursuit of a power greater than ourselves in the Second Step.  


Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity:  

The Second Step, often overlooked because it is thought to be an extension of the obvious dilemma already addressed in the First Step, is a vital step in the initial surrender process. The Second Step implies that our sanity is not restored merely because we resign ourselves to being powerless.  We need to do more than put the proverbial “cork in the jug”. We have a great deal to change about the way that we manage our emotions and interact with others. We will need a power greater than our own to identify and make those changes.  


Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God:  

The first Three Steps can be simply summed up as: “I can’t, He can, and I’ll let Him”.  The Third Step did not ask us to move ourselves from the pain of active addiction to the oppression of a violent or controlling deity. The Third Step invited us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. We will continue to enjoy the comfort of that care as we move through the housecleaning tasks that are associated with Steps Four through Nine.  


Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves:  

If you have reached this point in your Step work then you probably understand that there is a great deal more involved in recovery than the abstinence from your drug of choice that is assumed in Step One. The process of clearing away the wreckage of your past will begin by conducting a thorough survey of the wreckage in the Fourth Step. The insights gained through the examination of the wrongs we have endured, as well as those we have subjected others to, will provide a beacon of hope that will guide us through the remainder of our housecleaning steps.  


Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs:  

Recovery wisdom holds that “we are only as sober as our deepest, darkest secrets.” The secrets we carry can become an unbearable burden that lessens once the door to our past is opened in Step Five. Step Five provides an opportunity to hear the whole story for the first time. Odd? Yes it is. But the reality for most of us is that the story has never really been told before and while we had more than a cameo appearance in it, we seldom have much of an understanding of what was happening.  


Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character:  

In this first of “the forgotten steps” you will demonstrate your readiness to have the defects of character you have discovered in your Fourth and Fifth Steps removed. True and lasting personality change that is needed for permanent sobriety will be impossible without this step.  Our defects of character represent the strategies that we have developed over the years for coping with the emotional challenges of life that, if ignored, will lead us right back into active addiction.


Step 7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings:  

The Seventh Step is a decisive step of surrendering the behaviors we have coveted nearly as much as our drugs of choice themselves. We ask to have the defects of character removed entirely. No more half measure. No more foxhole prayers in which you promise never to do again if only you are allowed to escape some sudden crises.   The defects of character must be replaced with more adaptive and sober ways of coping with the challenges we face in sober living.


Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all:

The eighth step introduces a two-part formula for beginning to repair the damage we have caused others by concentrating our efforts on the identification of the damages that need to be redressed if we are able. 


Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others:

The ninth step directs us well beyond a strategy of using “living amends” to address our wrongs toward people and institutions.  The process, if we are painstaking, will also allow us to walk with pride through the same streets whose shadows once provided refuge for our shattered self-image.


Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it:

The remaining three steps are often referred to as the maintenance steps. These three steps provide the framework for continuing the work that we began back in our Second Step when we accepted the need for a power outside of ourselves. This power can be extended to others whenever we decide to offer our hand to others to show them where the stairway out of darkness begins. It is important to clarify however, that these last three steps are so much more than a restatement of the previous nine steps.

The Tenth Step expands on the inventory taking that we were introduced to in the fourth step and emphasizes the importance of daily introspection and the timely redressing of our wrongs.


Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out:

The Eleventh Step looks to expand on the insights and power over relapse we gained in the Third and Seventh Steps.  Many a seasoned 12-stepper has derived great value from the practice of daily prayer and meditation and a simple spiritual plan that evolves from the commitment to be of service to others.


Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs:

The final step in the recovery process stresses the importance of carrying the message of hope to others because it is in that process that our own resolve for sustained abstinence and the development of a sober life-style is fortified. 

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