The 12 step recovery approach is used by the vast majority of drug rehab clinics. They may modify the original program created by Alcohol Anonymous but they utilize much of it structure.
I’ve rewritten the 12 steps in a shorter, less religious version. Here’s my take on what’s included:
- I need help
- I’m not alone
- I’ll solve the problems I can
- I’ll take a fearless inventory of my life
- I’ll be transparent
- I have more to work than drugs
- Rehab won’t make me perfect
- Make a plan
- Make amends
- When I screw up, I’ll admit it
- I’ll live by a code of conduct
- Give back
Here is a more expanded version
The steps are widely used but have been criticized as being too negative. They were written by some Christian men in the 1930s, and our more secular culture doesn’t use the same terminology. There is a lot of misunderstanding. I speak Christian, so let me translate them for you.
- We are powerless and life is unmanageable. This isn’t a “you are bad” condemnation. If it was saying nothing could be done, there would be no need for a step 2. This is a description of a present state. In problem solving terms this is “Where Am I now?”. Short version: I need help.
- A Power greater than us can restore us. This is a statement of hope. This power needn’t be a specific or even a personalized God. Many people find that the power of AA is the help of their recovering friends. Short version: I’m not alone.
- We turn our will and lives over to God. This is change of focus from the drug to what you can. You don’t have to control everything or run the universe. Short version: I’ll solve the problems I can.
- Take a fearless moral inventory of ourselves. No short version needed.
- We admit to God, ourselves, and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs. Only a short while ago you were lying about how much drugs you took, now you have to start telling the truth. You have to be honest with your moral system, yourself and, just to get you started, one other person. This is start of truthfulness. Short version: I’ll be transparent.
- We are ready to have God fix our character defects. Christians aren’t as guilt-ridden as they sound. They believe in God’s forgiveness but have a tendency to talk guilt. This is actually a shift in focus from drug to personal development. Short version: I have more to work on than just drugs.
- Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. This isn’t a magical thought. The Christian men didn’t really think that you say some magic words and you become perfect. This is really more about self-forgiveness and humility. This is a very Zen statement. Short version: Rehab won’t make me perfect.
- Make a list of everyone we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. This is an action-oriented step that pushes you to think about others. You live in an environment and your life is interconnected with other. Short version: Make a plan.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Short version: Make amends.
- Take a personal inventory and admit when you are wrong. This is an on-going step, a reiterative process. It involves continued self-assessment and action. Short version: When I screw up, I’ll admit it.
- Through prayer and meditation seek to improve our conscious contact with God. You’ve come far enough along to turn your focus to the world around you. Connect with the universe and find meaning in life. Discover a new way of living that doesn’t include drugs. Short version: Live by a code of conduct.
- 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. This is a statement of the radical change in thinking you’ve made. At the start, you were centered on the drug. Then you changed your focus on you and your getting better. Then you began thinking about those around you and what you can do for them. This step is the culmination of all you’ve learned. Short version: Give back.
For More Info
For more on the 12 steps here are some links which might be helpful:
Wikipedia: Twelve Step Program.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints has it’s own short translation of 12 Steps. They list honesty, hope, trust in God, truth, confession, change of heart, humility, seeking forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, daily accountability, personal revelation, service.
Recovery.org: About the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-Step Recovery Program.