12-Step Recovery Principles and Virtues

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are the Principles of the Program that we practice.

Over the years many lists of virtues that correspond to each of the Twelve Steps — and their underlying spiritual nature — have been printed in local area AA newsletters and on pocket cards. The origins of these lists are unknown, although they are used by many Twelve Step members.

The AA Principles and Virtues

Honesty
Step 1. We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Hope
Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Faith
Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

Courage
Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Integrity
Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Willingness
Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Humility
Step 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Brotherly Love
Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Justice
Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Perseverance
Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Spirituality
Step 11. 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.

Service
Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I went out on the web in search of possible further historical documentation of their origins and found two more listings different from the above …

Principles of the 12 Steps

  1. Surrender. (Capitulation to hopelessness.)
  2. Hope. (Step 2 is the mirror image or opposite of step 1. In step 1 we admit that alcohol is our higher power, and that our lives are unmanageable. In step 2, we find a different Higher Power who we hope will bring about a return to sanity in management of our lives.)
  3. Commitment. (The key word in step 3 is decision.)
  4. Honesty. (An inventory of self.)
  5. Truth. (Candid confession to God and another human being.)
  6. Willingness. (Choosing to abandon defects of character.)
  7. Humility. (Standing naked before God, with nothing to hide, and asking that our flaws – in His eyes – be removed.)
  8. Reflection. (Who have we harmed? Are we ready to amend?)
  9. Amendment. (Making direct amends/restitution/correction, etc..)
  10. Vigilance. (Exercising self-discovery, honesty, abandonment, humility, reflection and amendment on a momentary, daily, and periodic basis.)
  11. Attunement. (Becoming as one with our Higher Power.)
  12. Service. (Awakening into sober usefulness.)

And another list–

Step 1: Honesty — After many years of denial, recovery can begin when with one simple admission of being powerless over alcohol — for alcoholics and their friends and family.

Step 2: Faith — It seems to be a spiritual truth that before a higher power can begin to operate, you must first believe that it can.

Step 3: Surrender — A lifetime of self-will run riot can come to a screeching halt and change forever, by making a simple decision to turn it all over to a higher power.

Step 4: Soul Searching — There is a saying in the 12-step programs that recovery is a process, not an event. The same can be said for this step — more will surely be revealed.

Step 5: Integrity — Probably the most difficult of all the steps to face, Step 5 is also the one that provides the greatest opportunity for growth.

Step 6: Acceptance — The key to Step 6 is acceptance — accepting character defects exactly as they are and becoming entirely willing to let them go.

Step 7: Humility — The spiritual focus of Step 7 is humility, asking a higher power to do something that cannot be done by self-will or mere determination.

Step 8: Willingness — Making a list of those harmed before coming into recovery may sound simple. Becoming willing to actually make those amends is the difficult part.

Step 9: Forgiveness — Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be great medicine for the spirit and soul.

Step 10: Maintenance — Nobody likes to admit to being wrong. But it is absolutely necessary to maintain spiritual progress in recovery.

Step 11: Making Contact — The purpose of Step 11 is to discover the plan God – as you understand Him – has for your life.

Step 12: Service — For those in recovery programs, practicing Step 12 is simply “How It Works.”

From all of the above comes a prime Principle of Alcoholics Anonymous …
We have to give it away to keep it!”

Author: Karl D Rhoads

I am a Married, Forgiven, Imperfect Follower of Christ. I am a recovered alcoholic (since July 12, 1999) and an ordained minister of the Gospel of Christ (since July 6, 2002). I have been saved from the grave (more then a few times) by the loving hand of the God and Father of our Lord, Christ Jesus. My heart's desire is to meet the needs of others with the love of Christ as he directs and enables me to do so.

2 thoughts on “12-Step Recovery Principles and Virtues”

    1. Thank you, Wally. By the grace of God I’ve been on this journey for 18.5 years. It would be great to have as much time in recovery as I had when I was in self-destruct mode. At present, I’m nearly 2/3 of the way there. But I got such a late start in life that I doubt I will live long enough to mark 30-years in recovery. But the joy is in the journey, and getting to help those like myself who are seeking sanity and serenity while they still have a chance.

      Grace and peace to you and yours,
      kdr

      Liked by 1 person

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