The Twelve Steps with Short Version Meaning
All Al-Anon is work based on what is known as the Twelve Steps, derived
from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. They have been altered in only the few
details necessary for our purpose.
We study the Twelve Steps to help us meet and solve our present problems
related to alcoholism. We learn constructive ways of dealing with the
difficulties it creates for us so we are gradually able, one day at a time, to
work them out.
In a broad sense, the Steps are a spiritual philosophy with some of the
elements of the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and
the centuries and teachings of Oriental philosophers.
In their simple words, the Twelve Steps encompass a magnificent body of
ideas whose study will be rewarded by the enrichment of our characters and
personalities, a deeper understanding of our relationship to our fellow-man, and
a sustaining confidence and serenity that will help us to live more fully each
The Twelve Steps
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become
To admit that we cannot control the life or actions of a dear one may be
difficult, but this first step is essential if we are to solve our problem. Once
we can admit our helplessness, we will stop trying to compel the drinker to stop
drinking; we know we cannot. We will stop nagging, appealing, complaining; we
know it is useless. We will turn out attention to the task of managing our own
lives, which have become unmanageable because of our fruitless and frustrated
efforts to "work on someone else."
2. Came to believe that a power greater then ourselves could restore us to
Note the tremendous meaning in this Step. We admit that the situation we
have been trying to control and direct has distorted our own viewpoint. At this
crossroads of desperation, we believe we can and must find spiritual help from a
Power greater than ours. To most of us this Power is known as God, but each one
of us is free to use his own concept.
It is this Power that will restore us to a rational frame of mind so we can
deal with the havoc wrought in our lives by alcoholism.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
as we understand Him.
Observe how logically one step leads to the next: We admit that we are
powerless over alcohol, that we, of ourselves, were not able to cope with our
problems, that we believed help is available to us, and now, in the Third Step ,
we turn our problems over to the care of God as we understand Him. And not only
our problems, but our whole lives. As we make this decision, we take on the
mantle of humility, for without it, we would not be ready to follow guidance. It
is hard to bring ourselves to realize that we cannot manage our lives without
guidance, but this is the essence of spiritual growth.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Now that we have tried to learn submissiveness to a Higher Power, there is
action to be taken, work to be done- by us. We have to search ourselves for the
truth about what we really are like- the good qualities, as well as the faults.
Facing up to faults is not easy; we are all given to justifying ourselves,
finding good reasons for our attitudes and actions. But this is to be an Honest
inventory. Have we blamed every crisis, every problem, on the alcoholic? Do we
feel sorry for ourselves, resentful of what life has done to us, certain that
none of it was our fault? Are we intolerant, bitter, despairing, suspicious?
Whatever negative qualities we unearth in this " fearless moral inventory"
we will try to eradicate.
We must be just as honest in evaluating our good qualities; this is the
foundation we are going to build on!
5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being, the exact
nature of our wrongs.
Once again we have admitted to ourselves such faults as we can discover,
we still find great comfort in acknowledging them to God and asking his help inn
removing them. There is further relief in talking it all over with an
understanding friend (Sponsor), Doctor, Minister, or the members of your Al-Anon
As we share our problems, the weight we have been carrying seems to lighten
and as we learn to face ourselves as we really are. At this point our thinking
begins to clear up. We find understanding from people who have similar problems;
we trust them because we know they will keep our confidences. We have a feeling
of belonging; we are no longer alone.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
This process is, in effect, a continuation of the Fifth Step. You will need
spiritual support for your program of removing the faults that are causing you
so much trouble, and the way to get it is to turn to God for help.
The keynote of the Sixth Step is the phrase: "Were entirely ready."
Note also that this step specifies all defects of character. There may be
some that are so deeply ingrained that we may not even recognize them as
faults, or some (such as self-pity) that we're so attached to that we can hardly
face letting them go.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Again we turn to our Higher Power. Handing over to Him the problem of the
faults we are now so eager to get rid of. We ask for guidance, not just once,
but repeatedly throughout each day, reminding ourselves of the tremendous task
we have before us. The key word is "Humbly", our acknowledgment that
we need a Power greater then ourselves. Humility will help us see ourselves in
true perspective and keep our minds open to truth.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make
amends to them all.
We can do grave harm to others when we allow ourselves to become totally
absorbed by the alcoholic problem in our lives. It distorts not only our
attitude and behavior toward the drinker, but to other members of the family,
and to our friends. We may harm them by over action, by neglect, or by
overlooking their needs.
If, consciously or unconsciously. We carry this burden of guilt, it must
be wiped out by making amends. Only then can we find peace of mind. and a more
rational pattern of thought and behavior.
It might be a sincere apology for a wrong or slight; it may be a generous
and friendly act to compensate for an injustice or a neglect. The Willingness to
make amends often creates the opportunity to do so in a natural and
unembarrassed way, and this leads to spiritual growth.
9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
It takes careful study of the circumstances to decide whether amends can be
made without doing further damage. It depends on the people involved, the nature
of the situation and perhaps even what changes have taken place if a long time
has elapsed. Consultation with a trusted confidante (Sponsor) will be helpful.
The importance of the Ninth Step is to make amends if it is possible and right
so do so when all factors have been considered. However, honesty prohibits using
this choice as an alibi for not making amends when they could and should be
10. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly
As we fulfill the suggestions of nine previous steps, we find that we are
making progress, but self-evaluation, the personal inventory, must be a
continuing daily process. We should now have developed to the point where we
can at once recognize unkind or ill-advised behavior on our part and correct it
Since our concern is with the alcoholic, and our reactions to problems
caused by the drinking, we must be especially careful not to return to our old
habits of nagging, complaining, directing, self- righteousness, or whatever our
usual pattern happened to be. What we do and say in relation to the alcoholic
can influence him for better or worse.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
with God as wee understand Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us
and the power to carry that out.
We are striving for a "spiritual awakening" in which we become
sharply aware of our Higher Power. As we understand our problems more clearly,
each day brings renewed faith and courage. As we meditate on this new way of
life, we realize that we are guided through each successive twenty- four hours,
and we come to feel His guiding power.
Each morning we ask God as we understand Him to guide us and give us
strength and courage to carry out his will; at the end of each day we thank Him
for His help.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried
to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our
This is the triumphant culmination- the summeay- of the Steps. This is the
recognition that we have achieved a deep awareness of God and our relation to
Him, and that we are ready to continue the work by bringing to others the light
we have found.
These Steps work for those who need and want them. They can help us find an
answer to all our problems. The more we put into the program, the more we get
out of it. Only when we practice these principles in all our affairs, and give
unselfishly of what we have receive, do we find the peace of mind we seek.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental facuilties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
In thinking about our new day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for awhile. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperierienced and having just made concious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find out that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plan of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no requests for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends.