To continue this dialogue on 12 step programs – it seems only natural to describe the 12 steps. Distortions abound. Some clarity about this process might be useful to students of health care, people in the Ministry, medical professionals, and especially to those suffering from a hopeless state of mind and body.
From page 59 of Alcoholics Anonymous, that basic text of AA:
“…here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God, as we understood him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Became entirely willing to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Mad a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of the step, we carry the message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”
The medical, mental health and church communities have dissected and analyzed this process for seventy years – trying to understand the underlying effectiveness. I am going to write on each of these steps – and I will do so in the context of character development. This is but one way of thinking about the 12 Steps.
Here are twelve character traits that correspond to the Steps. These are not unique. These are not original – I have seen them around. These are not exclusive – other terms may be better employed. These terms do serve as a basis for debate, discussion, and understanding.
- Spiritual Awakening
Several things strike me about this process.
First – it is spiritually based. My understanding of spirituality is rather simple. Anything that brings one closer to love and acceptance by family and friends is spiritual. Anything that separates one from the love of family or friends is not spiritual. This simplicity is not without merit. Addiction steals love, steals family, steals friends, steals careers, steals everything. The restoration of love, the restoration of tolerance, the restoration of self, is the restoration of spirituality.
Second – The strength of character necessary to turn away from the extreme power of addiction is a foundation of recovery – and a hope for a better life. As I have stated before – addiction is not a personality disorder.
I will follow this post with a series on each of these 12 Steps.
See Also: On Addiction