The 12 Step Consultant Certification came about eight years ago as many treatment facilities were hiring staff with no 12 Step recovery experience and they were asked to work with clients involved in 12 Step recovery work. These staff members began calling me to educate them on the 12 Steps. In order to fulfill their need I developed courses C39, C41, C43, C48, C56and The 12 Step Consultant Certification.
Although there are non-12 Step support groups like SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, Women/Men for Sobriety, SOS, church groups or simply doing nothing, it is helpful to have a good knowledge base of this approach. I have found that all the approaches work 100% of the time for 100% of the people who work them.
The 12 Steps
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
This is an inside job. It has nothing to do with one’s external losses, rather what one loses internally. It is the acceptance of ones loss of ability to safely predict their behavior after they start using a behavior or chemical. There is a craving set up that is physical and psychological. The addict’s brain chemistry is out of balance. Step 1 is the beginning of a grief process whereby the addict gives up or surrenders to the fact that their bodies, minds and actions are different from others and can never do chemicals without life damaging consequences.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
In this step the addict or co-dependent is considering the existence of a Higher Power to assist them in recovery from their addictive disorder. This sets up the basis for the 12 Steps as a spiritual based program. The 12 Steps are reports of action taken vs. concepts one might want to believe in. This step implies that one has the capacity through belief to create a belief that will help them maintain an addiction free life.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
This is a step in trust, which this “God” of one’s understanding can and will be there for the individual on their life journey. Religion is exclusive and spirituality is inclusive. The statement “as we understood Him” opens the door to a spiritual permission for the individual to design and create a personal relationship with this “God”.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
The previous steps were about developing a belief in a “God” of one’s understanding. This belief can empower the person to do the work of Step 4 which is to get to know one’s self. The inventory looks at resentments, fears and sexual behavior to help identify the exact nature of one’s wrongs. The inventory is about the part the individual played in their own lives to create problems for self and others. No blame is needed or required; just an assessment of the behavior, though having a “God” of one’s understanding will help to do this work.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Here trust is further practiced as the addict shares their 4th Step with a recovery coach, sponsor, therapist, minister or friend. The trusted person must have the ability to listen and refrain from judgment. The intent of Step 5 is to identify the addicts patterns, motives and behaviors so they can clean up the wreckage of their past.
Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Now that the truth has been told and another person knows the truth about self, it is time to be released from these ties that bind them. Many of the attachments to the past may be broken when they are brought out into the open and discussed. Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness (HOW) are the key to freedom. A real demonstration of one’s faith is called for here. If there is doubt then simply revisit Steps 3 through 5 and then return to Step 6. Freedom from the past is what this step is all about.
Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Humility is standing with head held high and asking with assurance that these causes and conditions that set the addict up for pain will now be removed by the “God” of their understanding. The amount of openness will equal the freedom experienced. Shortcomings are identified and discussed, and then let go.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.
The purpose of Step 8 is to make a list of people who were harmed by the addicts destructive past and become willing to right their wrongs, looking only at the part they played. The list will come from Step 4.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Now it’s time to complete relationships, to say what is needed to be said so the addict can move forward on their journey. Making direct amends in person, by phone or letter, e-mail, etc. is very healing and good for flattening the ego. It is not about hanging ones head in shame and saying “I’m sorry”. It is more about correcting the problem and notifying the person that the problem is corrected. It is not about taking abuse from the offended party it is about correcting ones mistakes with the intent of never doing that behavior again. It is suggested to discuss the amends with a sponsor, recovery coach, therapist, etc., prior to making the amends.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Simple enough isn’t it, a plan to stay current with one’s behavior and a process to clean up the wreckage of the present. If things don’t have time to build up they never become major problems. Daily inventory helps keep the addict in check. This spot check process is a behavioral change long overdue.
Step 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 it out.
Here one is asked to continue ongoing communication with the “God” of their understanding. Prayer is asking and meditation is listening. Through ongoing use of this step the addict can and does stay in-touch with their Higher Power and remain empowered to grow their reliance vs. defiance of the “God” of their understanding. Having this power to rely on is very comforting.
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.
Fellowship is what is established here in Step 12. A personality change takes place which places the person in a position of neutrality from their addictive behavior. Carrying the message of Hope and Possibility to the addict still suffering is how some addicts in 12 Step programs keep their gift of recovery. Principals of Honesty, Loyalty, Truthfulness, etc. are some of the principals learned by doing the work and make for a strong foundation for life long recovery.
Working the 12 Steps with a therapist, sponsor, and/or an objective third party, going to 12 Step meetings, reading 12 Step literature, Cognitive Therapy, Grief Work, Parts Therapy, Biology of Addiction, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Co-dependency Anonymous, Pathological Gambling, Narcotics Anonymous, Compulsive Spending Anonymous, etc., anything for honest open discussion of issues seems to be the keys to recovery. The 12 Steps are a good way to live and almost anyone wishing for a better life can find a group to suit their needs.
My workbook "12+2 Steps Young People in Recovery" is an excellent example for readers see how all these processes work together for treating addiction.
Michael Yeager B.A. LCDC, C.ht, SAP
President and Founder of:
12 Step Consultants
Contemporary Teaching Approved Homestudy Courses – www.contemporaryteaching.com
Arthur of “12+2 Steps Young People in Recovery”
The Council on Holistic healing and Recovery