AA’s 12 Steps to a Successful Recovery from Alcoholism (Analysis)

A guy with the head down in the table while having a glass of alcohol in from
From Syda Productions

Being an alcoholic is firmly tied with feelings of sadness and depression, what an alcoholic is trying to do – in a way – is shutting down the brain so the emotional pain his living with, becomes more bearable and in that way gets to be “happier”

Problems – bigger problems – arise when alcohol consumption cannot be controlled and is the first or only response to all life’s complications. We could identify alcoholism in this way.

AA is a world-renown organization that helps people overcome their addiction to alcohol.

The way they do it is with the completion of 12 steps that serve as checkpoints in the journey of achieving a free-alcoholic life.

Pretty simple to understand, I must say, it’s way too simple of a concept considering the success AA is having since 1935 in all over the world.

But why? How is it that in 12 steps someone can be liberated from being alcoholic?

Which Are The AA 12 Steps? Why They Work so Well?

You can visit and review the 12 steps and their 12 traditions on their official website.

Another resourceful and trustworthy website in which you can learn a lot about this organization and alcoholism generally is this one.

These are the 12 steps:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  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.
  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.

We have at least get to know in some way the step of “recognizing our problems, asking for forgiveness, and helping other people with this problem”

At first glance, we could say the reason for its success is that helps us establishing and keeping a deeper relationship with God. However, to understand how everything works, I’d like to give a thorough analysis of the AA’s steps and why they work remarkably well.

A Deeper Look Into The AA’s 12 Steps.

Let’s try to assign one or a few keywords to each step and from there give my own perspective of meaning, importance, positive effect, and/or the efficacy to improve the capacity of remaining and getting out of alcoholism.

  1. Problem Recognition – Only after we are been able to identify something as a problem, we can start looking for solutions to that problem. Otherwise, we are doomed to live with it for the rest of our lives.
  2. Awareness of God – We realize that there is a God with the power to restore us. This also implies that we recognize we are just humans and as human beings, we have flaws. Accepting that God can heal us from alcoholism makes us accept our human conditions and limits by default.
  3. Accepting God – By acknowledging that there is a God that can save us from alcoholism, (or any addiction or emotional/mental health problem) our next logical step would be welcoming his help by accepting him in our lives because he knows better.
  4. Looking in the Mirror – The need to been able to look at ourselves and recognize all our flaws is imperative. When we understand and recognize our wrongs is when we can start the process of healing. This one is very similar to the 1st step but somewhat broader and deeper.
  5. Confession – Not the kind of confession to a pastor that represents the authority of God (according to some religions). Confessing our wrongs in emotions, thinking, and acting directly to God, to ourselves, and to other people, creates a strong willingness inside us to change that for the better.
  6. Redemption – After putting our mistakes and faulty character traits in the table, we also start to expect for God to get rid of them.
  7. Humbly Asking God – I think it’s very important to denote the word humbly. We are not making a demand, we are not commanding or requesting with authority (as the Law of Attraction has taught us). We are recognizing our condition of being inferior to God and it’s Him in his power that restitutes us.
  8. A List of Transgressed Persons – This list is for us to plan and prepare ourselves to ask for forgiveness to those people we have hurt by being prisoners of our bad habits and harmful behaviors.
  9. Make Direct Amends – If no more injuries are made, we must make peace with those people. This can help to erase any long time grudge they could have towards you. This only should work if we are being sincere in apologizing with which previous steps help us preparing us.
  10. Continuation – This step’s purpose is to train our awareness at all times of our weaknesses. We’d be more conscious to admit we were wrong right there in the situation and would have more self-control whenever we feel we are going stray.
  11. Prayer – Opening and keeping communication with God by prayer is the way we can understand His will for us and develop the strength to abide by it.
  12. Practice and Preach – After following these steps we have a moral obligation to ourselves in continuing practicing our new mindset and the moral obligation to help others awakening to a new healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion

It’s curious to me that anybody who knows the AA’s 12 steps without being involved (by movies for example) usually doesn’t know how important is God and how much of an involvement He has in the whole process.

Reading and reviewing these steps as a whole, we can get to understand better the nuances at their core.

Acknowledge you need help, search and accept the help of God, have personal responsability of your faults, ask for forgiveness with humility, be alert, keep being close with God and help other people.

There is a lot of different ideas and threads to follow that I’d like to pursue sometime in the future about this topic, like how taking these steps with a group of encouraging people, makes a big difference in accomplishing the goal.

For the time being, I’ll conclude that the AA’s organization and their 12 steps work with an amazing success is because it helps in developing a stronger relationship with God, ourselves, and overall with people.