People often say that they can’t go to fellowship meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.) because they are not religious. While the 12 step program may not be for everyone, it’s important to recognize that you can make the program suit your needs. You do not have to be religious in order to find meaning and inspiration from the program. I wanted to take this opportunity to attempt to interpret the 12 steps in a more accessible way for everyone. Here are the simplified twelve steps:
1) We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
The addiction has made my life a mess, I’m not strong enough to handle it on my own.
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
There is help/support out there. We can not beat this by ourselves, we need support.
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.
I let a Higher Power/support system take over and help me. It is important to recognize that we are not alone.
4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I need to take a closer look at my life, why I have fallen to addiction. Which beliefs has allowed me to get here, that no longer serve me.
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
I admit to my Higher Power/support system the things I did wrong. I take ownership and responsibility for my wrongdoings.
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
I am ready to be free/make changes. I will not slide back into my old way, I am ready to take responsibility.
7) Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.
I ask a Higher Power/support system to help me be free and make the needed changes.
8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
I have to face all of my wrongdoings, and who I have hurt to be able to make amends.
9) Made direct amends to people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I tried to make amends wherever I could, by genuinely apologising and trying to right my wrongs.
10) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
I continue to look at myself honestly, to stay self-aware of my shortcomings and to admit when I have done wrong.
11) 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.
I ask a Higher Power/support system for help to live the right way. I respect and maintain this relationship, as I know how much it has helped me.
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.
I try my best to help those who have faced addiction as I have. I remember these steps and give credit where it is due. I try to practise these teaching in all aspects of my life.
I hope these simplified twelve steps have helped you to see the true meaning and understand that you do not need to be religious to see the importance and intent of these steps. If you’re interested in learning more, see this Author and 12 Step Coach in Cape Town.