Step 9 of AA  – 12 Step Guide

This post continues our 12 step guide series. In this article, we’ll provide information and advice to help complete step 9 of AA: “Made amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Step 9 in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous is often one of the most satisfying when completed. But that doesn’t make it any easier to complete. After all, you are being prompted to address the very people who you hurt the most to ask for forgiveness. In many cases, humbling yourself can be hard, and you may believe that forgiveness might not be possible. But to successfully complete this step of your recovery, it is necessary. With a little courage, judgement, a sense of the correct timing, and some prudence, you might just be surprised at how it all comes together. Read more

Clean & Sober Living: Step 8 AA

“Make a list of people we have harmed, and become willing to make amends.”

This post continues our series on clean and sober living through the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous. Step 8 of AA involves repairing your personal relationships. The work you do in this step will provide you with a blueprint to begin repairing some of the damage that you have caused while drinking or using. It is a complex task, but with all the work you have done so far, you are up to it. The point of making these amends is to help you create a plan that supports healthy relationships going forward.

Step 8 Is About Restitution

As a result of working step 7, you will likely have discovered the healing power of forgiveness. You may have felt a need to reach out and to try to repair the relationships you have broken along the way. When making amends, you are essentially asking those you have harmed to forgive you. Whether that means offering an apology, paying back money owed or some other form of atonement, any kind of harm that you have caused as a result of your drinking should be a part of your plan to make amends.

You’ve Hurt Others As Much As Yourself

Once you’ve realized that the hurt you’ve caused is not just one-sided, you are ready to make your list. This list should have two columns: those who you need to apologize to and those you need to forgive. Forgiveness is just as important in step 8, as much of what has brought you to this stage has been caused by resentments you may have held for years. Don’t be surprised if some of the same names appear in both columns. If step 4 was an exercise in personal housekeeping, step 8 of AA is about social housekeeping. We are cleaning up all the residual guilt, sadness, hurt, pain, fear and resentment that we have built up inside ourselves—feelings that are attached to our past misdeeds.

You will see that it isn’t enough to forgive yourself. If there are others involved in your hurt and resentment, they will always be an obstacle to your recovery until you give them the same attention. Once you have addressed each and every individual on your list, you have a good opportunity to avoid repeating the mistakes you’ve made in the past.

The Easiest Step?

Completing step 8 is considered by some to be the easiest step of alcoholics anonymous to work. After all, you are only making a list. Through all the soul searching you have done so far, you should be able to think clearly about the words, deeds, and actions that have brought you to this place, this moment. No matter how easy it seems, don’t make the mistake of getting too complacent: the wording of the step itself demands that you make a list of ALL the people you have harmed, and be willing to make amends to ALL of them. Be sure that you are being completely honest about everything that has come to pass thus far, and no matter how painful or uncomfortable, include it. Without an honest appraisal in step 8, you will not be able to complete step 9.

Clean & Sober Living and the 12 Step Program

Clean and sober living goes hand in hand with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.

12 Step Recovery Help: Step 7 AA

Step 7 of AA: “We humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”

This post continues our series on 12 step recovery help. In step six, we prepared ourselves to have God (or our higher power) remove all our defects of character. In step 7, we are asked to begin. Regardless of how you view your spirituality within the scope of the program, the ask is the same: we are asking our higher power to remove our faults. To do this, we need to be honest with ourselves and possess a good deal of humility. Read more

Quitting Alcohol & Staying Sober: The 6th Step

“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

We’re half way through our series on the 12 Step Program. We hope that these posts have helped you better understand each step and have reaffirmed your determination to quitting alcohol and staying sober. The Big Book of AA states that step six is the step that “separates the men from the boys.” Success with step six requires a great deal of humility, asking that we admit once again that recovery is a lifelong process. That may sound like an incredibly daunting task. Many think that with such a mountain of defects they might never conquer them all, but just remember we are all a work in progress—and nothing worthwhile comes easily. The reward, ultimately, is self-realization, acceptance and a willingness to do better.

Working Through Step 6

Before you can work the sixth step, you should have a pretty good idea of what your character defects are. It is sometimes a good exercise to go back and have a look at the inventory you created in step four. Take the time to assign a character defect to each event, resentment or negative thing on your list. Once you have this list, you’ll have a solid place to start.

Look for patterns in your actions: fear, lust, dishonesty, greed, etc. Once you’ve made your list of defects, think about how you would change each one. For instance, if you identified one of your character defects as “envy,” you might want to think about turning that to “being happy about other people’s success.” Lust can be replaced by “fidelity,” and dishonesty can become “truthfulness.” Through it all, it’s important to know what you are striving for, and to keep those goals in mind when you ask your higher power for assistance: you must always make your intention known before your higher power can respond.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Success with the sixth step requires you to dispense with all of your pre-conceived ideas of perfection and realize that your process is yours and yours alone. It is helpful to keep in mind that you are not giving something up. Instead, you are leaving something behind that wasn’t working for you anymore.

Many alcoholics suggest that writing a list of affirmations relating to each character defect is helpful. For instance, if being dishonest is the issue, you may write:

  • I strive to tell the truth, no matter what
  • I do not keep secrets from others
  • I feel better about myself when I tell the truth

In your daily meditation, repeating these affirmations may help you to feel better about the process. And when you feel better, you might feel a new willingness to complete step six. Through it all, keep an open mind and realize that you are a work in progress.

Sober Living Environment Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.


Alcohol Recovery Program Help: The 5th Step

“Admitted to God, ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

Once you’ve completed your 4th step inventory in the 12 step alcohol recovery program, it’s time to move on to step five. In this step, you are asked to share your wrongdoings with another individual or group. Once you see all of your wrongs and misdeeds spelled out on paper from the inventory you compiled in step four, you may be hesitant to share. This is 100 percent normal. But you can take comfort in the fact that so many have stood in your shoes.

The Freedom In Sharing Your Secrets

There’s a saying in AA: you’re only as sick as your secrets. This little gem will come up now and then, but in reality it has a direct connection to the 5th step. Our secrets are often our undoing and will in many cases lead us straight back to a drink or other intoxicant. Overcoming the desire to keep secrets is one of the biggest obstacles to moving forward with your recovery. Many newcomers try to hide certain facts about themselves, thinking that if they don’t tell anybody that it will just go away. Think of the 5th step as a vital part of your housecleaning in an alcohol recovery program. It is a place where you have the opportunity to lose your fear, your egoism, and to humble yourself fully and completely.

Is that the worst you’ve got?

Breaking down your ego is the surest way to remove many of the barriers to sobriety you have so carefully constructed over the years. But it’s not about debasing yourself in front of another human being. The truth is that most alcoholics have probably done everything you’ve done, and some even worse. Once you’ve completed the 5th step, baring your heart and soul to another, you’ll likely look them in the eye expecting judgment. What you’ll often find, however, is someone looking back at you, saying “I’ve been there too. What else you got?”

Finding the Right Person

The fifth step sets us free in a way. It gives us a freedom to live in the here and now. But as with any one of the 12 steps, it is important to feel comfortable enough to allow yourself to share. Choose a person who you trust and feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be your sponsor, but it could be. It doesn’t even have to be a friend, but it could be. The person should be somebody you can let go with, someone who you feel can accept your truth, no matter what it is.

Try to choose somebody who will not be judgmental, such as a spouse, family member or romantic partner. The right person will be a good listener that can help you sort out where you need to accept responsibility and where you do not. Many people seek out a member of the clergy to complete their 5th step. The combination of confidentiality and non-judgmental acceptance may help, especially if you are concerned with any legal ramifications of your actions. But this is your choice, and you should find peace with it, either way.

Alcohol Recovery & Sober Living in Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.

12 Step Recovery  – Step Four

 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

This post continues our series on the steps of the 12 step recovery program. When we arrive at step four, it is only after a great deal of soul searching. We know what has brought us to this point, but how do we get past all the damage we have caused? It would be easy to ignore the hurt and disappointment we have left in our wake—but for true recovery, that’s just not feasible. The fourth step asks us to go deep. In this step, we detail all the ways we have wronged ourselves and others. Most importantly, it asks us to identify our role in the situation: what did we do or say to get us here?

Moving Past Self-Justification and Taking Inventory

The behavior we are being asked to address in this part of the 12 step recovery program is part of the natural pursuit of what makes us human: sex, money, career goals, personal happiness, professional accolades. These things, in and of themselves, are not abnormal or bad. Instead, it’s the way we went about them under the influence of alcohol or drugs that has caused trouble: “Imposing our instincts unreasonably upon others” is how the Big Book puts it. When we don’t get our way, indignation and resentment may set in, and instead of directing blame at ourselves, we may assume it’s the fault of someone or something beyond ourselves. Self-justification is one of the biggest obstacles to recovery, and it is often rooted in self-pity and unwarranted pride.

Overcoming Obstacles: Your Sponsor to the Rescue

One of the greatest things about the twelve steps of alcoholics anonymous is that you are never alone. Your sponsor, whether he or she has nine months, a year or double-digit years of sobriety, can be your touchstone through this stage. They are well-positioned to help you understand that your situation is not unusual. They have walked in your shoes. By sharing their own personal challenges in completing the fourth step, they can help you be more objective when you are taking stock of your own situation. By helping you to look without judgement at the events in your life that have created your most deeply held resentments, you may finally be able to see your own role in what created these circumstances. Even if the underlying issue was not your fault, it’s how you responded to it that caused the damage.

A Personal Journey of Self-Discovery

The ultimate goal of step four is to remove resentments and to free yourself from the anger, blame and feelings of humiliation that they cause. While disclosing certain behaviors and actions you’ve taken to justify them may be embarrassing and painful at first, any sober individual in the program can tell you that completing step four took a massive weight off their shoulders. In completing your inventory, you will have a much better idea of where you are blocked, and you will be able to proceed toward reparations.

Tips for Completing the 4th Step

There are four headings under which you should write your inventory, including: 1. Resentments, 2. Fears, 3. Sex and 4. Harm to others. The last is integral, as in the 8th step you will be asked to make amends. If you complete your 4th step inventory honestly, you will already have a solid list to work from.

Keep in mind this is not your life story. Keep it simple and to the point. You’ll know what it all means and can expand on what you need to in step 5 without referring back to a needlessly voluminous text. That’s the beauty of the 12 step recovery program. It allows you to take things, well, step by step. No need to get overwhelmed. Don’t get hung up on the details. Just stick to the facts.

Above all, this stage of 12 step recovery is about uncovering the truth within ourselves. It’s a fact-finding mission. Have fun with it, and don’t let any negative comments from others in the program stop you from getting it done. Once you’ve gotten through it, you’ll know yourself better, and it’s really amazing how much lighter you’ll feel for it, guaranteed.

Encouraging 12 Step Recovery in Charleston, SC

If you are struggling to stay sober and motivated to succeed, a sober living home may be right for you. The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation provides sober living residences in the beautiful coastal region of Charleston, SC. We would love to talk to you about how we can help.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: Step 3

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

As a stage in our process, the first three steps of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are designed to bring us to a point where we are willing to turn our lives over to our higher power, or God as many understand it. The remaining steps are the blueprint of how that is going to happen, and finally, how to keep us on that path. It’s important to remember, however, that we have to be willing to do the work before the work begins. This is the essential lesson of step three. Read more

12 Step Help: The Second Step

The 12 step program has helped many with addictions find a way to heal and recover. In this series, we’re providing 12 step help through insight on each statement that makes up the core of the program. In this post, we’re taking a closer look at the second step:

“We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could return us to sanity.” Read more

The 12 Step Program: The First Step

The 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous has proved effective in helping those with addictions to drugs and alcohol find a way to heal and recover. In this series, we will dive deep into each step, providing insight on its statement and hopefully illuminate its gifts. Read more

Sober Meditation: Benefits & Tips

Sober living programs often comprise elements of faith and discipline. Depending on the environment you are living in, this can take on a religious connotation or one that is purely spiritual. While meditation in itself is not necessarily a religious or faith-based practice, it is a practice that is used to increase clarity of focus and empower self-reflection. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of sober meditation and provide a few tips to help ensure a successful practice. Read more