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Home » A look at the second half of the Twelve Step Program – Desert Sun

A look at the second half of the Twelve Step Program – Desert Sun

In this week’s column, I am again departing from our usual Q&A format to finish covering my interpretation of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This column covers Steps Seven through Twelve. To read my interpretation of the first six Steps, see A Look at First Half of Twelve Step Program. I hope you will find this enlightening, whether you’re a long-time “friend of Bill” or have never heard of the Twelve Steps.
Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Interpretation: If you want to change, ask for help.
Step Seven is an action step and the climax of the work we did in Steps Four through Six. In those steps, we identified our character traits, confessed them, and then became ready to let go of the negative ones. Here we are asking for help in removing them. Step Seven is all about humility, so much so that many people do this Step on their knees. Without humility, the addict has little chance of experiencing long-term recovery. Humility silences the ego and its false pride. Step Seven is a personality correction. We become better people for it.
Step Eight:  Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Interpretation: Figure out how to make all of our wrongs right.
We become willing (there’s that word again) to have a change of perspective from self-centeredness to brotherly love. The Steps are ingenious in that they give us time to mentally and emotionally prepare for change. Our list includes relationships from past and present. We pay close attention to people we resented (after doing Step Four, we may no longer resent them, but nonetheless, we hurt them). Step Eight is best done with a sponsor or counselor, with the full awareness that until we confront and resolve resentment, we have little hope of moving forward.
DR. HARRY: What makes someone an alcoholic?
Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Interpretation: Fix what we can without causing more trouble.
When we make amends, we not only apologize, but we do so with every intention of changing. We apologize with integrity. The result is a self-cleansing. While we can’t be sure the people we apologize to will quickly forgive us and open their arms, we can be sure that we’ve done the right thing, and this leaves us feeling at peace. Steps Eight and Nine are not one-time steps. We clear our emotional debts daily so that every morning, we start life with a clean slate.
Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Interpretation: Mistakes are human.
Step Ten is about perseverance. We are not trying to be perfect, but we acknowledge when we have done something wrong. The size of the mistake does not matter. We continue to be honest with ourselves and others. We continue to work Steps Four through Nine every day. We drop our baggage before we even feel its weight. The reward is being surrounded by full and meaningful relationships.
Step Eleven: 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.
Interpretation: Ask our Higher Power for help in treating others as we would want to be treated by our Higher Power.
Step Eleven boils down to the age-old principle of the Golden Rule. We are able to practice the Golden Rule when we make conscious efforts, throughout the day, to connect with our Higher Power. This communion gives us the insight and strength we need to see others and their actions more clearly. We become more forgiving, more tolerant, and we take responsibility for our actions. We move from aimlessness to awareness.
Step Twelve: 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.
Interpretation: Pass it on.
If we want to keep the joy of recovery, we need to give it away. What we give to others comes back to us tenfold. We share the program of recovery with others in need of help with addiction. We pass it on, and yet keep it at the same time.
You can find lengthier interpretations of the Steps in my book entitled Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting to, Getting through, and Living in Recovery. For the original source, see the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition).
Questions about addiction and recovery? Please send them to [email protected].
Dr. Harry Haroutunian serves as physician director of the Professionals Program at the Betty Ford Center. Known as Dr. Harry by patients and alumni, he is the author of “Being Sober: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting To, Getting Through and Living in Recovery,” and co-author of “Hijacking the Brain: How Drug and Alcohol Addition Hijacks our Brains – The Science behind Twelve-Step Recovery.” Dr. Harry earned his medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University and is board certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. His new book, “Not As Prescribed,” addresses the topic of older adults and addiction and was published in 2016. To learn more about recovery from alcohol and other drugs, visitwww.BettyFordCenter.org.

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