Finding God Through the 12-Steps

If you have ever dealt with addiction then you know how devastating it can be. It has the ability to strip a person of any sense of decency, reducing one to an animalistic level. When I look back on all of the despicable things I did to fuel my addiction it filled me (initially) with a sense of guilt, shame, and self-loathing. It got me to a place where I did not know where to turn or what to do. But….I did pray.

I grew up in the church, which gave me somewhat of a basic foundation in spirituality. When I started drinking and drugging my church attendance virtually stopped. But I would still pray in times of need - usually the proverbial foxhole prayer, “God, if you get me out of this jam, I promise….”

The Turning Point

Finally, after many years of self-destruction I was guided to the rooms of a 12-Step fellowship. This is where I discovered the true meaning of developing a relationship with a Higher Power. The 12-Steps are a roadmap of the journey to self-discovery and a connection with God. A journey to find out who we really are.

Spiritual Principles

In the Narcotics Anonymous preamble, How it Works, it states, “There is one thing more than anything else that will defeat us in our recovery. This is an attitude of indifference or intolerance towards spiritual principles. Three of these that are indispensable are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. With these we are well on our way.”

In recovery I have learned to be honest – not simply cash register honesty, but true self-honesty. When I am not being honest my conscience has a way of letting me know. Self-honesty contributes to improved relationships and a sense of inner freedom. I no longer have to be wracked with guilt over my misdeeds. And when I am wrong I can promptly admit it (usually).

The open-mindedness mentioned has to do with the ability to consider a different way of doing things – a better way. By becoming willing to take suggestions I become teachable. I also realize that I do not have all the answers after all. By becoming open-minded, I no longer have to worry about being right all the time.

Willingness involves change, something that many people struggle with. By being willing to change, we demonstrate that we don’t have to continue down that path of destruction we have been on for so long. This decision often comes as a last resort however it may very well be the best decision we have ever made.

All12-Step programs have the same spiritual base. Since 1935, many people (perhaps millions) have found a way out of the depths of despair through following the spiritual principles. These principles do not promise anything but freedom from active addiction. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Have you been able to discover this in your life?

APA Reference
Shallowhorn, K. (2012, June 4). Finding God Through the 12-Steps, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Karl Shallowhorn, MS, CASAC

Patricia Bosley
June, 19 2012 at 2:35 pm

I agree Karl, "Recovered from a seemily hopless state of mind" is not the same as saying you are "fully recovered" from alcoholism.
.” To me, recovery is a process – one that I am always working on improving. For me, recovery implies growth – and I never want to stop growing as a person". I just couldn't have said it better!

Sonny Boy
June, 10 2012 at 5:00 am

Well, thanks for expressing your opinion. Like you say, it works for some and not for others Well, I'm a part of the others group, and no amount of 12 stepping ever worked for me. If anything, it held me back. I'm fully recovered, and not still striving for the rest of my life. It's strange isn't it, how this all seems to come into play?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 10 2012 at 7:42 am

Thanks Sonny Boy. I have to admit that I struggle with the concept of being "recovered." To me, recovery is a process - one that I am always working on iimproving. For me, recovery implies growth - and I never want to stop growing as a person.

June, 10 2012 at 1:36 am

Honesty, open-mindedness & willingness. You said it Karl! Great piece. :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 10 2012 at 7:38 am

Thanks Karen. I believe that those three principles are something we can all agree upon.

June, 4 2012 at 9:19 pm

I just wanted to point out a different option for those who are addicted, but are uncomfortable with spirituality. Atheists or agnostics may have a difficult time with 12 step organizations, as they may not identify with having a "higher power"
Secular organizations for sobriety, while less common than 12 step groups, might be more suited for them.
I am not against 12 step programs. I'm entering the addictions field myself, and I know how much the 12 steps can help people. I just like to offer alternative solutions as what may work for one person may not work for the next.
I love the blog, by the way!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 5 2012 at 2:11 am

Thanks Ash, and you are correct. S.O.S. and SMART Recovery are two groups that provide alternatives to the 12 Steps. There are many paths to recovery with the same goal: freedom from active addiction. Personally, I believe that a person needs to find whatever method that works best for them.
Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading!!

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