In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the alcoholic recovery stages are the series of steps that an alcoholic takes to get their life back on track. At first, they may be in denial about how much of a problem they have with drinking alcohol. They might go through periods where they are able to drink moderately without any problems, but then find themselves slipping back into old habits again. The alcoholic’s mindset changes over time as they work towards sobriety and learn new coping skills for dealing with stress or depression that is caused by alcohol abuse. In this article, we will unpack AA’s 12 alcoholic recovery stages and what they mean.
“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The first stage is all about admitting that you have a problem. This is the hardest part of alcoholic recovery because an alcoholic may not want to admit they are powerless over alcohol. They may think that their drinking habits will never change, or cannot be changed at all, which makes them feel stuck and hopeless about their situation.
Admitting there’s a problem with alcohol abuse takes courage and strength. Even though the alcoholic may not believe it at first, they can and will recover from their addiction if they are willing to put in the work involved with recovery.
“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
The alcoholic’s mindset is very important as they make their way through alcoholic recovery stages. They need to have a positive outlook and be willing to do the work necessary for alcoholic recovery. In addition, they should believe that their life can improve if they are open-minded about working on themselves through therapy or support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
The alcoholic’s relationship with their higher power can be a very important part of alcoholic recovery. They may consider themselves to be atheist or agnostic which is completely fine, but they do need to have some sort of connection or belief in something bigger than themselves if they are going to work through the steps towards alcoholic recovery.
“We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
This alcoholic recovery stage is where the person takes a hard look at themselves, their life, how they have been acting towards others in the past. They should be completely honest about what led them to alcohol abuse in the first place so that they can work on ways to change these behaviors and make positive changes in their alcoholic recovery journey.
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
This alcoholic recovery stage is about taking responsibility for what has happened in the past while also making a commitment moving forward that they will not continue down this path again. They should be completely honest with the person they are confessing to even if it is a complete stranger.
“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
When in recovery, an alcoholic needs to be willing and open-minded about change. They need to understand that this will not come easily or overnight but there does need to be some action taken on their part to change.
“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
This alcoholic recovery stage is another important point where an alcoholic needs to show willingness towards changing certain behaviors if they want alcoholic recovery to happen for them successfully. This does not mean there are things in their life that cannot remain unchanged, but rather they need a strong resolve moving forward if they hope for success with sobriety.
“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Next up in the alcoholic recovery stages is making restitution or amends to the people they have hurt in their alcoholic past. They need to make sure that everyone affected by alcoholic behaviors is aware of how sorry they are for what has happened and do everything in alcoholic recovery stages which may be necessary but not easy if a person wants a sincere apology from an alcoholic who truly means it.
“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
Making restitution can be very difficult depending on the situation, especially if there was physical abuse involved with alcohol use at some point. In these cases where alcoholic recovery is impossible forgiveness needs to take place before anything else happens even though this will likely never happen either because of how much someone was actually harmed by another’s actions while under the influence.
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Recovery is not over just because a person makes alcoholic amends or restitution, but this is about taking an honest look at oneself on a daily basis and making sure that alcoholic behaviors do not resurface again in their lives. This means changing one’s mindset towards drinking alcohol altogether since many people who suffer from alcoholism do not realize what negative impact alcoholic consumption can have even if someone does drink socially every once in a while.
“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.”
This step is about seeking guidance from a power greater than oneself, which could be God for some alcoholic recovery groups or another deity. It can even be possible to seek this advice through something like meditation if that is preferred over praying since there are no rules regarding how an alcoholic needs to pray in alcoholic recovery stages except for making sure it works positively with one’s beliefs and practices of faith.
“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Finally, once alcoholic amends have been made, alcoholic restitution completed, and after taking daily inventory it becomes important for recovering alcoholics who want success with their sobriety moving forward that they try passing on the alcoholic recovery message to others who may be suffering from alcoholism. This is not about forcing one’s way of life onto anyone, but this alcoholic recovery stage simply means that practicing these principles can help other people who want abstinence or moderation with their alcoholic behaviors as well.
It’s very important to remember that recovery is a process that will take time and effort on the person’s part. In order for amends, restitution, or personal inventory to be successful, it it needs more than just one attempt too. It takes commitment from an alcoholic in all of these areas before they can hope for sobriety.