The 12 Step Program

The 12 Steps and How To Do Them

The 12-Step program is best undertaken with the support and guidance of a sponsor. A sponsor is typically someone who has successfully completed the 12 steps and maintained their sobriety. They can provide personal insights, share experiences, offer encouragement, and lend an understanding ear when you face challenges throughout your recovery journey.

The benefits of having a sponsor are numerous. Not only do they provide moral and emotional support, but they also serve as a living example of how the program works, demonstrating that recovery is indeed possible. Their practical advice, based on their own journey, can help you navigate the steps more effectively. Importantly, they can help keep you accountable on your path towards recovery.

The role of a sponsor, however, is not to serve as a therapist, financial advisor, or legal counselor. While they can provide valuable support, they aren’t professionals in these fields and shouldn’t replace professional help when needed. The relationship between a sponsor and sponsee is more like a partnership – built on mutual respect and a shared goal of recovery. The sponsor guides and supports, but it’s the individual who must do the hard work of moving through the steps. A sponsor’s role is not to fix your problems, but to help you find and utilize the tools within the 12-Step program to help yourself.

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.


  • Definition: Recognizing the severity of addiction and accepting the lack of control over it.
  • How to Perform: Reflect on the impact of alcohol or substance abuse on your life. Write down instances when your addiction has caused harm or disruption, which will help you acknowledge that you are unable to control this addiction.
  • Benefit: This step helps you realize the extent of your addiction, which is the first step towards recovery.

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

  • Definition: Developing faith in a force beyond oneself that can aid in recovery.
  • How to Perform: Consider the concept of a higher power that can provide strength and guidance in your recovery. Write down what this higher power means to you and how you can draw strength from it.
  • Benefit: This step encourages you to seek outside help, which can provide hope and support in the recovery process.

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of a higher power as we understood it..

  • Definition: Surrendering to the recovery process under the guidance of one’s higher power.
  • How to Perform: Commit to change and trust the process of recovery. Write down how you plan to entrust your will to your higher power and how you can let this higher power guide you.
  • Benefit: This step emphasizes the relinquishing of control, allowing a higher power to guide your recovery.

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

  • Definition: Undertaking a thorough and honest self-examination.
  • How to Perform: Evaluate your past actions, behaviors, and attitudes. Write down your reflections in order to better understand yourself and the roots of your addiction.
  • Benefit: This step aids in self-awareness and helps uncover the behaviors that led to your addiction.

Step 5 – Admitted to our higher power, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

  • Definition: Openly acknowledging one’s faults and wrongdoings.
  • How to Perform: Confide in your higher power, yourself, and a trusted individual about your past mistakes and wrongdoings. Write down these wrongdoings as a tangible way to accept responsibility and start the healing process.
  • Benefit: This step facilitates acceptance of past mistakes and encourages accountability.

Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have our higher power remove all these defects of character.

  • Definition: Preparing oneself to change and let go of detrimental behaviors and patterns.
  • How to Perform: Reflect on your readiness to change. Write down the negative behaviors you wish to abandon, signifying your readiness to let your higher power help you change.
  • Benefit: This step signifies readiness to change and the willingness to let go of harmful behaviors.

Step 7 – Humbly asked our higher power to remove our shortcomings.

  • Definition: Seeking help to overcome personal faults and shortcomings.
  • How to Perform: Request your higher power to aid you in overcoming your faults. Write down these requests as a way of humbling yourself and acknowledging the need for help.
  • Benefit: This step emphasizes humility and the willingness to ask for and receive help.

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

  • Definition: Recognizing those hurt by one’s addiction and expressing willingness to make amends.
  • How to Perform: Compile a list of individuals hurt by your addiction and express your readiness to make amends. Write down how you intend to make these amends.
  • Benefit: This step involves taking responsibility for your past actions and expressing a willingness to make things right.

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

  • Definition: Making efforts to amend past wrongs directly.
  • How to Perform: Reach out to those you’ve harmed and make amends, which could include apologies or other actions. Write down a plan for making amends, while ensuring these actions won’t cause further harm.
  • Benefit: This step promotes reconciliation and healing for both you and those you’ve hurt.

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

  • Definition: Continually assessing oneself and admitting to mistakes without delay.
  • How to Perform: Regularly evaluate your actions and behaviors. When you make a mistake, promptly acknowledge it. Keep a journal of these self-assessments to track your progress and learn from your mistakes.
  • Benefit: This step encourages continuous self-improvement and personal growth.

Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our higher power as we understood it, praying only for knowledge of its will for us and the power to carry that out.

  • Definition: Using prayer or meditation to maintain and enhance spiritual connection and awareness.
  • How to Perform: Engage in regular prayer or meditation to enhance your spiritual awareness and maintain your commitment to recovery. Write down your reflections and insights gained through these practices.
  • Benefit: This step helps maintain a spiritual focus, and reinforces reliance on a higher power

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.

  • Definition: Sharing the message of recovery with others and incorporating the principles of the 12 Steps into all aspects of life.
  • How to Perform: After experiencing the benefits of the 12 Steps, share your experiences with others struggling with addiction. Write down ways you can apply the principles of the 12 Steps in all areas of your life.
  • Benefit: This step encourages outreach and support to others, and helps integrate these principles into every aspect of life.