The 12-Step Program: Step 2 – Accepting Help from a Higher Source

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Many recovering substance abusers join a 12-step program to reaffirm their commitment to their sobriety daily. Incorporating a 12-step approach into an addiction treatment program offers a foundation on which to build a new life and a reminder that no one is alone in his or her effort to leave addiction far behind.

What Is a 12-Step Program?

A 12-step program uses a set of principles—12 of them—to support people who are rebuilding their lives while in addiction treatment and recovery. Participants who join these free or low-cost programs attended regularly scheduled meetings in a church or other public place to share their stories and bond with others who are on similar journeys.

The groups offer a safe space for participants to express their fears, weaknesses, and personal truths while helping others who also are overcoming a battle with substance abuse. Twelve-step programs are part of recovery programs because they offer a foundation to grow from and help people focus on what’s in their control and what’s not.

Popular 12-step programs include:

  • Alcoholic Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

Alcoholics Anonymous, an international fellowship focused on helping people with drinking problems, was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson. The organization has served as the model for other 12-step programs, including secular ones designed to offer an alternative to programs with a religious or spiritual focus. Participants may also have a sponsor to guide them through the process

Here Is a Comprehensive List of the 12-Steps:

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

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 that out.

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 principles in all our affairs.

In the second installment of this series, we focus on Step 2 of AA’s 12 steps, which says, “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

In Step 1, the recovering user admits that life has become unmanageable as a result of his or her addiction and/or compulsive behavior and that the person needs help with addiction.

Step 2 of the program addresses having faith that a greater power higher will guide users in regaining their sanity. Perhaps the objective of this step is about accepting that outside help from a powerful source can help a person break the chains of addiction.

The second step can make someone look at themselves and honestly come to terms with the fact they need help they cannot give themselves or get from anyone else they know. And it’s not help from just anyone or anywhere, but it’s help from a power greater than oneself.

For many addicts in recovery, this greater power is accepted to mean God or religion. For others, a “Higher Power” may be someone or something else. Members are left to interpret that as they wish. The main objective is to accept that there is some guidance that must come from the outside, and not from within. Some people may struggle with this. Other 12-step programs may tackle this step with an approach that also teaches that looking toward a greater power does not mean people in recovery must sit and wait for someone else to do their work for them.

Some will be reluctant to admit that a divine power may be what’s needed to end substance dependency.

It can also be said that Step 2 of the 12 steps is about having hope and giving oneself permission to have faith, to believe that divine intervention can help one get to where he or she wants to go.   

3 Things to Do to Practice Step 2

Keep an open mind. So far, if things haven’t been working out with the old ways of thinking and doing things, then it is perhaps time to try something different. Use this time to figure out strategies that can help you see the picture differently and then proceed with a different approach.

Define “Higher Power” for yourself. It is important for you to establish your belief system if that’s what will help you move forward in your recovery. If you choose to establish in your mind who or what is your Higher Power, be as clear as possible about who and what that looks like to you. You may find yourself drawing strength and focus from this clarity as you make new decisions, navigate new areas and make different decisions this time around.

Practice accepting help—and giving it. It can be as simple as accepting a thoughtful gesture from a complete stranger, such as when someone holds the elevator for you or the door as you enter a building. You also may want to pay it forward and offer to help someone else who may need a hand with something or share a tip that could help someone else get something they want or need. Giving and receiving are one in the same, they say, so doing both can help you learn to trust a helping hand and to be that helping hand for someone else in need.

Need addiction treatment? Give Us a Call

Twelve-step programs help keep countless people on the right path as they focus on leaving substance abuse and addiction behind once and for all. We at Pathway to Hope know how important it is that people with alcohol or dependence find a rehab program they can trust to meet their needs.

If you or your loved one is interested in entering a rehabilitation facility, call us today at 844-311-5781 for a free consultation and assessment. Just one phone call can start you on your way to a life of sobriety. If you’d like, you can also reach out to us online.




Elysia L. Richardson

Elysia L. Richardson is a content writer and editor who covers addiction and substance abuse issues for Delphi Behavioral Health Group. Previously a writer and editor for various digital and print publications, she enjoys researching news in the recovery field and finding engaging ways to share information that helps improve people’s lives.

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