Some 12-step fellowships have (perhaps in addition to others) the following three lists: 12 Characteristics (of the addiction), 12 Steps (of recovery), and 12 Promises (of life in sobriety). Theses lists roughly correspond to the concepts of a) experience, b) strength, and c) hope. To my knowledge, there is no systematic, number-for-number correlation between any of these lists. This curiosity has led me to create a generalized pair of lists which directly correlate to the 12 steps.
12 Characteristic Experiences of Addiction
- We were unable to see or admit how powerless we were over our addiction, or how unmanageable our lives had become.
- We were unable or unwilling to believe that we could be restored to sanity.
- We could not let go of our will and our lives.
- We had little or no clarity over our moral history and underlying resentments and fears.
- We had never been fully honest with God, ourselves or any one human being, about the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We could not face or identify or hand over our defects of character.
- We continually tried to fix our own shortcomings.
- We had mixed motivations for making apologies to various people.
- We blamed others, directly or indirectly, or made apologies that made us feel better at their expense.
- We had a pattern of not seeing when we were wrong, nor admitting it.
- We had poor or non-existent spiritual habits of prayer and meditation, either not asking for anything, or asking for too many or the wrong things.
- We were spiritually asleep, which hindered or entirely negated our ability to be of help to others.
12 Steps of Strength
- Admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Became willing to have God remove from us all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people, whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to deepen our conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves, praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us, and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives.
12 Promises of Hope
- Our lives were powered by a partnership with a Power Greater than ourselves, enabling our lives to be healthy and ordered.
- Our thinking was sober and sane, thanks to that Power.
- Our will and lives intermingled with God’s, as we understand God.
- Our past is understood with clarity and compassion.
- We practice open and honest accountability with God, ourselves and others.
- We continually discover new and deeper defects of character, and deepen our willingness to have them removed.
- We continually partner with God to remove these shortcomings.
- We understand the harm we have done to others.
- We enjoy the freedom of having done all we could do to clear away the relational wreckage of our past.
- We continually deepen our habit of spotting where we are wrong and promptly admitting it.
- We strengthen and sharpen our practice of prayer and meditation, maintaining a simplicity of focus on God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- We continue to work recovery not only for our own recovery, but to pass it on to others.