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The 12 Principles of Recovery Explained

Person sitting on the ground outdoors and thinking about the principles of recovery

When considering recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, many people hear about the 12-step approach made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and think that the process is complicated. This is precisely why it is so essential to understand the 12-step principles of recovery better. Call 888.296.8976 or contact us online to speak with someone from Northpoint Recovery’s team about AA’s 12 stages of recovery.

AA’s 12 Principles of Addiction Recovery

The 12 AA principles of addiction recovery are fundamental concepts that guide the 12-step approach.

The 1st Principle: Surrender

Addiction is a disease of the brain that renders your best intentions ineffectual. Admit when your intentions fall short and embrace the reality of addiction to explore new possibilities. Surrendering isn’t quitting—it’s freeing yourself to transcend your will and ego.

The 2nd Principle: Hope

Looking around, it’s clear people can overcome severe addictions with help beyond their own will, often referred to as a “higher power.” Everyone envisions their own personal higher power differently, some in these ways:

  • The God of your comprehension and understanding
  • Fate
  • Humanity
  • The universe
  • Medical science
  • Other people who have achieved successful addiction recovery

This final example may inspire you the most because it proves proper recovery is possible.

The 3rd Principle: Commitment

If your addiction is overwhelming and your higher power can aid recovery, step aside. Avoid reverting to old habits out of misplaced confidence.

The 4th Principle: Honesty

People often don’t want to admit their dishonest or hurtful behaviors while actively drug-seeking. But if addiction is a disease that promotes dysfunctional behaviors, proper recovery must mean addressing those character flaws.

The 5th Principle: Truth

The truth is confessing painful truths terrifies many people new to recovery. From a practical standpoint, honestly admitting your wrongs to another person is a way to protect your recovery from one of the most extensive problematic behaviors—self-delusion.

The 6th Principle: Willingness

Willingness is choosing not to hold back, an extension of surrender in the 1st step. It’s about having hope and faith in your higher power guiding your path.

The 7th Principle: Humility

In developing the 12 steps, humility meant understanding oneself. By acknowledging addiction’s grip, you grasp the effort needed to break free from it.

The 8th Principle: Reflection

The 8th step requires reflection on the consequences of your behaviors. Listing all the people harmed by your addiction-driven actions is a sobering exercise as you give real thought to your impact on everyone around you.

The 9th Principle: Amendment

The principle of amendment underscores how important it is to make a real effort to correct any mistakes you have made. The weight of your guilt can slow your progress and even lead directly to relapse. Making amends relieves you of that guilt.

The 10th Principle: Vigilance

By reaching the 10th step, you will feel a justifiable accomplishment. Unfortunately, it is far too easy to become complacent. Vigilance means constant self-appraisal, where you repeatedly examine your thoughts, feelings, motives, and actions to ensure you are not harming others or yourself. But it also means persevering—continuing to work on your recovery program, even when it’s hard.

The 11th Principle: Attunement

The principle of attunement prompts you to remember the positive lessons you have learned and remain receptive to recovery messages. These messages can come in any form and from any source. But to hear those messages, you have to be listening.

The 12th Principle: Service

The principle of service is a powerful culmination of everything that has come before. For example, imagine how much you would benefit if you were more honest, humble, and vigilant in your professional life or how your relationships would blossom if they were filled with hope and commitment.

Get Started on 12-Step-Based Addiction Treatment in Idaho at Northpoint Recovery

If you or someone you care about would like to have the 12-step principles of recovery explained or would like to overcome addiction by following AA’s stages of recovery, contact Northpoint Recovery online or call 888.296.8976 today. Learn more about these addiction recovery principles and how our addiction treatment programs use them to help our patients.