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The 12-step programme is a form of therapy which provides clients with a set of 12 clear steps towards addiction recovery. These steps are structured to create a beginning-to-end transformation from the early stages of acceptance all the way to rebuilding your connection with others.

The 12-step programme can be a hugely helpful method of addiction rehabilitation. Informed by spiritual virtues such as compassion and altruism, the steps encourage you to reflect on your lifestyle choices, understand the cycle of addiction and learn to free yourself from your struggle with addictive substances or behaviours.

The roots of 12-step therapy

Established and first practiced by AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) in the 1930s, the process of completing your 12 steps required you to accept that you cannot control your addictive behaviour or substance abuse. Once you have opened yourself to receiving help from others, you can begin to make amends with yourself and with others by accepting the guidance of a ‘higher power’.

You can interpret your ‘higher power’ to be a person or it could also be an acronym. For instance, ‘GOD’ could stand for ‘Good Orderly Direction’. It could also be something meaningful to you, such as a family member, friend, religious God or your support group.

At its core, the 12-step programme aims to help you access your inner sources of spiritual strength. The later steps teach you how acting with honesty, compassion, open-mindedness and altruism can help you to become and happier and healthier person. No longer consumed by substance abuse or addictive behaviours, giving back to others can help you to heal and continue to make a holistic addiction recovery.

Your 12 steps towards addiction recovery

Step 1 – Acceptance

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step 2 – Trust

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Step 3 – Liberation

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Step 4 – Liberation

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Step 5 – Acknowledgement

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Step 6 – Freedom

“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Step 7 – Growth

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

Step 8 – Reflection

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

Step 9 – Forgiveness

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Step 10 – Continuity

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

Step 11 – Connection

“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 the power to carry that out.”

Step 12 – Helping others

“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.”