The Twelve Steps Explained

higher power

12-Step programs help individuals struggling with addiction and help change their negative beliefs. In recovery, it is essential to create a framework that allows you to shift your perception about yourself into a positive perspective. When you discover the good and the potential within, you can then move about your life and recovery confidently and purposefully. The 12-Steps rely on good support to help you overcome difficult challenges that you will likely face. 

Coming to Acceptance

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

The first step is accepting that you have a problem and that you have been powerless and unable to manage this problem. It is essential to understand that you cannot overcome addiction with willpower alone. The first step allows you to see addiction as a chronic disease rather than a damaging impulsive character flaw. Once you understand it as a disease, you can treat it as such.

Believing in a Higher Power

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

Step two offers you the enlightenment that recovery is possible. The Higher Power element could include God, nature, or a 12-Step group; what you define as your Higher Power is up to you, as long as you recognize it as something or someone loving, caring, and greater than yourself. The idea is to look to this Higher Power for strength and hope. When you decide on your Higher Power, it enables you to set aside your ego and offer yourself to become guided and free from addiction.

Practicing Hope and Faith

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

The idea of the third step helps you realize your Higher Power is there to guide you. It is the step that helps you look at what you can control and what you cannot. Through the art of prayer or meditation practices, step three is about practicing hope that your Higher Power has your best interest in mind. When you implement the third step into your life, you come to recognize that no matter what happens in life, good or bad, you will be okay with the guidance of a Higher Power.

Becoming Courageous Through Honesty

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

Step four helps you take a moral inventory of yourself. Part of the process is looking deeper into your behaviors and exercising the courage to identify what must change. You will look at the people who have wronged you and how you have wronged them as well. This step can be challenging, but practicing honesty and looking deep into yourself and your past is an act of courage. Having courage will help you make better decisions to enact the kind of change that supports your recovery. 

Practicing Integrity Through Confession

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

During the fifth step, you admit your wrongdoings and discuss those who have wronged you with your sponsor and Higher Power. Being able to exercise remorse and admit when you are wrong is essential to learning and growing in recovery. Remorse also takes recognizing any harm that you have bestowed upon yourself and others. It is a difficult step, but it is also a cleansing and necessary one. 

Becoming Willing to Recognize Faults

“Were entirely ready to have God remove these defects of character.”

Step six helps instill practices that help replace harmful coping mechanisms with healthy ones as you look at your character defects. It will teach you about patience and persistence, a philosophy for which you choose improvement over perfection. This step will help prepare you to overcome the mistakes that will likely occur in your pursuit of recovery.

Practicing Humility

“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

When you can identify your weaknesses and triggers, you can then help downsize the impact of negative thoughts and behaviors. Humility helps to further establish your connection to your Higher Power and continue your ability to open yourself up to support and growth. It can be a freeing, powerful, and transformative experience when you can recognize and understand your deepest flaws.

Accountability for Hurt Caused

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

Step eight is about taking accountability for your actions. You will look at who you owe amends to for any hurt you may have caused in this step. Facing the truth of your actions will help you alleviate any guilt you might feel and become more motivated to improve your life and others’ lives. Accountability will help you move forward and strengthen your social connections.

Mending Harms

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

Making amends and asking for forgiveness is essential in helping you move forward in your recovery. However, you might not want to reach out to everybody that you have hurt right away. Step nine will allow you to seek those that you feel ready to make amends with and then provide you the confidence to do so. It will also teach you that forgiveness is not guaranteed; however, the process of amends is still essential to move forward. 

Continuing to Look at Ourselves Through Perseverance

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

The tenth step allows you to continue to look at how you treat the world in your everyday life. Recovery does not mean we become perfect people. You will still slip up at times, which may include hurting those around you. In the tenth step, you continue to take a personal inventory. When you slip up, you can recognize your mistakes and take care of them accordingly. When you persevere through recovery, you can continue to admit when you are wrong. 

Strengthening Spirituality 

“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.”

Spirituality can mean seeking counseling from a Higher Power or just being able to listen. The eleventh step allows you to strengthen your faith in a Higher Power through prayer and meditation. Being able to talk, listen, and use reflection as tools will improve your growth and humility. 

Being of Service

“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Step twelve aims to reinforce all of the lessons learned throughout the 12-Step process. After adopting a new perspective and lifestyle, you will be ready to give your gift or sobriety away to another in need. Taking on the role of leadership helps grow the recovery community and continues to help keep you accountable.


The 12-Steps can be crucial for sustaining a lasting recovery. However, the first step is to reach out for help, so if you are currently struggling to manage your addiction disease, it may be time to seek treatment. At Avalon Malibu, our focus is on the journey of recovery, not just getting you sober; this includes encouraging participation in 12-Step programs. We work to provide the tools and practices needed to endure lasting recovery, including inpatient and outpatient care. We also help you with aftercare options so that you continue to strengthen your recovery practices. Our most tremendous success is when you sustain life-long recovery. Our effort is to make joy and sobriety your default setting. Remember, your recovery and health should always come first. Avalon Malibu makes for the perfect comfortable and inspiring environment to begin your recovery journey with a tranquil shoreline location. To learn more, reach out to Avalon Malibu today by calling us at (844) 857-5992.

We will work with most out of network PPO policies

Call 888-835-8075 to verify your insurance benefits today!
Blue Cross Blue Shield
Health Net
Blue Of California