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What Is the 12-Step Program?

Man talking to counselor regarding his addiction problems and seeking help

Addiction is complex. And if you or a loved one has suffered from addiction, you should know it’s not a choice. 

Addiction is characterized by the continued use of substances despite the harmful consequences. Research has also shown the link between substance use disorders and mental illness

By recognizing that addiction is a problem in your or your loved ones’ lives, you can reach out for help through support programs. The 12-step program is an outlined course of action to tackle addiction. 

Discover the benefits and what each step is for recovery.

The Benefits of a Program

Wherever you or your loved one is in their addiction journey, a program has many benefits to the recovery process. Acknowledging addiction and starting a program can be a difficult first step, but it doesn’t stop there. 

A recovery program provides structure and accountability throughout the whole process. The goal is to have each individual reach their full potential and continue to move onward and upward in their life. 

Each participant of a recovery program is able to build a network of peers who can end up being life-long friends and supporters. Having people who can relate to you and have your back throughout recovery to hold you responsible for your actions can help lower the risk of relapse. 

Throughout the addiction and recovery journey, you can find purpose by carrying on the message of recovery and supporting others through the same process. 

What Are the 12 Steps?

The 12-step program is a peer support process for those struggling with substance use disorders and other behavioural addictions. Each step is set with the intention for you to reflect, connect, and heal. Read through each step of the 12-step program to learn more about the process.

Step 1: Admitting You Have an Addiction

The first step is all about being honest with yourself. Admitting you have an addiction is no easy feat, but it’s necessary to start your path to recovery.

Step 2: Faith in a Higher Power

Believing in a higher power is the heart of the 12-step program. Faith can play an important role in recovery to find a community, provide opportunities for mindfulness, and be a positive force in life. Spirituality can address many issues that lead to addiction that medical intervention can’t do alone.

Step 3: Seeking Guidance & Help

Being open to faith and a higher power will help you recognize that you don’t have to go through recovery alone. 

Step 4: Reflecting on the Past

Reflection is a way of identifying how your actions have affected your life and those around you. During this step, you’ll make a moral inventory of your history to hold yourself accountable. 

Step 5: Admitting Your Wrongdoings

This step is an opportunity to show growth and integrity. Admitting your wrongdoings in front of a higher power and another confidant shows you’re taking responsibility for your actions.

Step 6: Rebuilding Character

For recovery, you must accept who you are and your past. Acknowledging your personal shortcomings can help you learn from them and actively work towards building better character.

Step 7: Asking the Higher Power to Remove Your Shortcomings

Once acknowledging and accepting yourself in step 6, you can humbly and with humility ask the higher power to remove your shortcomings.

Step 8: Create a List

Addiction can cause a person to act irresponsibly. Make a list of those you have wronged in the past and are willing to make amends with. 

Step 9: Make Amends

Asking for forgiveness can help start the healing process. Be willing to reach out and contact those you have hurt unless doing so would harm the person. Making amends can rebuild relationships that were once broken.

Step 10: Continuing to Take Personal Inventory & Admitting Wrongdoing 

This process was started in step 4. It’s important to continue taking personal inventory and continuing to practice admitting your wrong to maintain progress with your recovery.

Step 11: Seeking Connection

Throughout the entire 12-step program, there is an emphasis on spirituality. Connecting with the higher power through prayer and meditation can strengthen the relationship and process of recovery.

Step 12: Carry On the Message

Working with others to help face their addiction provides emotional rewards. Carrying on the message of recovery can help you find purpose in life. By understanding and empathizing with others, you can be the support they need to recover.

Support group sitting in circle and putting hands together to support one another from addiction

The Journey of Recovery

Life is a journey, and we’re all constantly trying to live each day better than the last. Battling addiction is constant, but the structure and support of a recovery program can help you with life after treatment. If you’re seeking help with addiction but don’t know where to start, contact the team at Calgary Dream Centre.

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  • Written by Jim Moore

    CEO/Executive Director, Jim Moore is a founding member of the Calgary Dream Centre. His passion and drive to see lives changed has guided the organization to where it is today. Jim entered the non-profit world after many years of leadership in business, banking, real-estate, and church ministry. During that time he served on a number of boards and his career moved him across Canada from Vancouver to Toronto, and back to Calgary, where he helped found the Calgary Dream Centre. He was president of the Calgary Real Estate Board CREB, and past president of Canada Trust Real Estate Division Canada.

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