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Addiction Help: Step 3 of the 12 Steps of Recovery

For many, the third step can cause a tornado of thoughts and emotions. Not only is it the first step that mentions the word “god,” but it is also asking you to turn over control, something alcoholics and addicts are not accustomed to.

The important aspect of this step is that “god” is your higher power, which does not need to be “the god” in the traditional sense of the word. Still, for many, getting past this word can be difficult, but after a thorough second step, most overcome the wording of the step and continue on with their step work. For those who struggle with this word, we suggest imaging a power, force or essence that is greater than yourself or imagining something that is bigger than yourself.  It can also help to reflect on your upbringing and what hurts or issues you experienced based on how you perceive the word “god.”

“made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood him”

It’s common for most people to enter in a 12 step program trying to control every aspect of their lives. This is the step where people move away from that mode of thinking. Trying to control everything around us leads us down a road of disappointment, which can eventually lead us to relapse. Turning our will and our lives over to the care of a higher power doesn’t need to be as frightening as it may sound.  Simply breaking the phrase down and simplifying it is sometimes all people need to do in order to grasp this step. An example of this include: not trying to control other people or situations where we don’t play a direct role in the outcome. This step is not intended to be used as a reason not to put effort in to anything and leave it up to your higher power, it’s meant to teach us that we don’t control everything in our lives. The term “turning it over” is commonly spoken in 12 step meetings; this simply means that some things must be left to our higher power in order for us to be content.

The second half of this step brings in the question “what is god’s will for me.” The answer to this changes from person to person depending on their higher power. What does your higher power want you to achieve in your sobriety? How does it want you to help other people? What is your higher power’s plan for you in life? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when trying to decipher god’s will for you. Sitting down with your sponsor and going over these questions and meditating on them is usually a good starting place for this half of the step.

The third step is a launching point in your sobriety and step work, it prepares you for the work that comes in the action steps that follow. In addition to future step work, a thorough third step prepares you for anything that is thrown your way in sobriety, good or bad. Life is unpredictable, stressful and sometimes painful.  Having a strong basis in your third step means you will be grounded and better prepared to handle life as it happens.

New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse treatment center for alcohol and other drugs. Based in Chicago, we serve those who are willing to get help, but need more than meetings to help them navigate this new world of recovery. If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or other drugs, contact us for a confidential assessment. You may email us at [email protected] or call us at 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center