12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are excellent supplements to substance abuse treatment because they offer safety and support, which are especially valuable during the fragile stage of early recovery.
Many people new to the 12-Step program are often skeptical, and it can take some time for a newcomer to become a willing, engaged participant. Here’s what newcomers–and those who want a refresher course–should know about Steps 1-3:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
If you continue your addiction, do you think it will continue to create more problems in your life?
Then why haven’t you quit permanently?
Step One involves two parts: admitting powerlessness and admitting that your life in unmanageable. Although admitting these things is frightening, denying them won’t bring you any closer to solving your problems.
Maybe you feel guilty or ashamed of your substance use, and you’ve isolated yourself from your friends and family. Perhaps your physical and mental health are suffering, or you’re dealing with legal or financial consequences. Or maybe you’re spiritual health is suffering and you’re behaving in ways that go against your values and morals. If you relate to any of these, your life has become unmanageable.
It’s instinctual to resist the idea of powerlessness, but the more you try to exert your willpower to stop, the worse the addiction will become. Eventually, you’re completely consumed by it to the point where you feel the compulsion to use despite being aware of the consequences.
People who’ve struggled with addiction rarely recover without any resources. Self-reliance isn’t useful in overcoming addiction, and admitting powerlessness and relying on outside help offers a way out. Surrendering means you’re willing to become teachable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The thought behind Step Two is that you can’t cure your addiction on your own. There is something more significant than ego and self-discipline, and it lies within a Higher Power – however you choose to define that Higher Power.
Step Two is not an attempt to change someone’s belief system. Instead, it requires you to continue to surrender and be willing to try something new. An open mind, humility and faith in something bigger than yourself, whether that’s God or the collective knowledge in your 12-Step group, can establish a foundation for you to keep working the steps.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
When you admit that you have a problem greater than yourself, you may start to realize you need a power greater than yourself to solve it.
A good way to get started on this step is by staying the Step Three prayer: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” (Big Book, page 63)
Your concept of a Higher Power doesn’t need to be like anyone else’s. By attending 12-Step meetings, you’re already demonstrating the willingness to surrender and accept the guidance of the program. It shows you’re willing to consider your ideas and recognize that some of the ideas from the 12-Step program may be better than your own.
How will your Higher Power give you the strength you need? You just have to be willing to let your Higher Power do it. As you adopt the principles into your life, you’ll start to feel your Higher Power’s presence grow stronger within you, and that’s how you develop the strength to live a sober life.
At BRC Recovery, we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of spiritual healing. Our 12-Step immersion program gives clients the tools they need to live sober lives, as well as proper training on how to implement them. We break the 12 Steps up over a 90-day period, so our clients can fully immerse themselves in each Step. For more information about our recovery services, please contact a BRC Recovery Admissions Specialist at 1-866-461-1759.