Alcoholics Anonymous primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

“We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

addiction recovery changeAfter completing the Fifth Step with our sponsors, recognizing and disclosing the exact nature of our wrongs, a realization sets in: without changing our destructive behaviors we cannot experience the full benefits of the recovery program.  In Step Six, a sense of humility is developed in order to see ourselves more clearly.  We have seen the wrongs we have committed and how they have harmed ourselves and others when we acted out our defects of character.  We begin to see patterns to our behaviors and also realize that we are likely to act on the same defects repeatedly. As we continue with our addiction recovery, in Step Six we become entirely ready to have our defects of character removed, without reservations.  The concept of becoming entirely ready does not happen suddenly.  It is a process which can take the course of one’s lifetime.

We have to identify, recognize and accept our defects of character before we can be willing to have a power greater than ourselves remove them.

Step Six is a step of willingness and action that prepares us for a launch to a higher level of consciousness. “We found that the higher our drugs took us, the lower they brought us” NA Basic Text, Step Three, page 24 (Fourth Edition). In other words, the more intoxicated one gets, the more toxic one becomes.

A very important way to identify character defects is by being receptive to the constructive feedback of others, particularly when we offend them with our behaviors.

Here are some common examples of character defects:

  • anger
  • resentments
  • sarcasm
  • cynicism
  • false pride
  • self-pity
  • self-doubt
  • self-indulging
  • perfectionism
  • defiance
  • distrust
  • dishonesty

There will most likely be layers upon layers of negative behaviors that point to these defects.  “When working this step it is important to remember that we are human and should not place unrealistic expectations on ourselves,” NA Basic Text, page 33 fourth edition.

Reciting this prayer during times of despair or when it seems to be taking a long time to reach a desired goal can help sustain us and renewing our willingness to have our character defects removed.

Sixth Step Prayer

I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery.  Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health. 

New Hope Recovery Center, Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction facility, offers treatment to those addicted to drugs or alcohol and their families.

If you or someone you love is affected by addiction, New Hope Recovery Center can help. Contact us at 773-883-3916 or

Other articles on the 12 Steps:

Step 1 , Step 2 , Step 3, Step 4, Step 5

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

There are differences between the men and women who enter drug rehab and alcohol rehab for substance abuse.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts a census of all yearly admissions to addiction treatment facilities that are reported to SAMHSA.  A report issued in April 2014 shows the results from 2011 as compiled by SAMHSA.  Interesting differences between men’s and women’s use of drugs and alcohol are highlighted.

More Men Than Women in Rehab.  The SAMHSA report shows the gender differences and primary substance of abuse across different age groups.  The numbers show that of those who enter treatment (or rehab) for substance abuse 1/3rd are women and 2/3rd of them are men.  This is an increase from findings even in the last decade that showed 1 woman to every 4 men entering treatment.

Younger Females (Ages 12-17) Equal to Younger Males in Rehab.  Men 18 and older have almost twice the rate of substance dependence as women.  However, the rates for males and females are about the same for adolescents age 12 to 17.

Younger Women (Ages 12-17) Are Twice as Likely to Report Alcohol as Primary Substance of Abuse Versus Young Men (21.7% vs. 10.5%)

Women More Likely to Abuse Prescription Drugs Versus Men.  The SAMHSA report found statistically significant differences between the primary substance of abuse for women and men.  For instance, women are more likely to abuse prescription pills as their primary drug compared to men.  In the 65 and older bracket women are almost 3 times more likely to primarily abuse prescription pain relievers compared to men.

Young Men More Likely to Abuse Marijuana vs. Young Women.  Women were less likely to abuse marijuana compared to men in the 12 to 17 and 18 to 24 age brackets.

Women More Likely to Abuse Methamphetamine/Amphetamines.  Women 18 to 34 are significantly more likely than men to abuse methamphetamines/amphetamines as their primary drug of abuse.

Gender Differences and Primary Substances of Abuse

There is no denying that women suffer from the disease of addiction differently than men.  The research also shows that women have better outcomes in treatment when they have gender-specific programming.  New Hope Recovery Center is proud to offer gender-specific programming to meet the unique needs of women.  Our staff is culturally competent and attuned to helping women find their place in recovery.  For more information please call  888-707-HOPE (4673) or email us at


From all the research that has been done in the field of addiction over the past 30-40 years, we know several factors are involved in the development and continuance of addictive behavior.   Within the disease model of addiction, we understand the development of an addiction stems from the genes we have inherited.  Once these particular genes are activated, the disease progresses, from the point of onset to chronic and often fatal stages, unless it is treated.

Through this medical model, we learn that addiction is a biopsychosocial disease, with many factors contributing to the development of an addiction including our biology or genetics (bio); our thoughts, feelings and emotions (psycho); and our personal histories: the way we were raised, the environmental and cultural cues and messages we are exposed to (social).

Traditional learning theory (specifically operant conditioning) states that we tend to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable, thereby setting up a pattern of action, reward, repeated action.  Our brains are hard-wired to be able to learn this way, as it is critical for our survival.  For example, when we eat, dopamine is released in the brain, sending the message to repeat the behavior.  The concept of making associations is key to learning theory as are the concepts of reinforcement and punishment.   Getting a pleasurable response to a behavior (i.e. feeling satisfied after eating a tasty meal) increases the chance that we will seek opportunities to repeat the behavior.  On the contrary, being punished after doing a behavior (i.e. getting burned from touching a hot stove) drastically reduces the likelihood we will repeat the behavior.

When looked at against the backdrop of addictive behavior, it is easy to understand how one can get caught up in the cycle of repeating certain behaviors.  Although in time, addictive behaviors come with negative consequences (punishments), they are initially paired with the experience of pleasure.  In the case of certain drugs and routes of administration (for example shooting heroin), the behavior is paired with extreme pleasure.  In learning theory, the stronger the experience of pleasure, the stronger the association will be and therefore, the more likely one will want to repeat the behavior.

Classical conditioning, another subset of learning theory, can explain why formerly neutral stimuli become paired with the anticipation of pleasure as they become cues for the target behavior.  Environmental cueing and classical conditioning are theories that account specifically for relapse.  For example, a previously neutral or even negative stimulus such as a needle can in and of itself set off the phenomenon known as craving in an individual who is addicted to heroin or crystal methamphetamine.  In this case, one may experience intense psychological cravings without even coming into contact with the actual drug, only with the stimuli that have become paired associations with the drug.  These intense cravings can easily lead to relapse, if not addressed and dealt with properly.

Further, social learning theory, first explained by Albert Bandura in 1961, also explains addiction in terms of the biopsychosocial model.  Social learning theory posits that we can learn and make associations in a social context, simply by observing and imitating the behaviors of others.  The behavior(s) being observed are most likely to be repeated if reward is part of the observation.  For example, a person watching his/her peers drink, laugh and have fun will pair that association and increase the likelihood that he/she will attempt the behavior as well.  This is known as vicarious reinforcement.

With a pattern of addiction, social learning is often responsible for the initiation of drug/alcohol related behavior.  Once the addictive process has taken over, social factors fade out and become largely irrelevant to the maintenance of the addiction.  As the addiction progresses, opportunities to learn from healthy individuals engaged in healthy or adaptive ways of coping with stress become scarce, as healthy people begin to disengage from the addict and as the addict associates almost exclusively with other addicts or users.

Learning theory, including operant and classical conditioning and social learning can be applied to recovery as well.  In recovery, we re-learn the associations made in the brain during our addiction.  We pair craving and/or stress with picking up the phone and reaching out to our sober network.  We learn to avoid things, people or situations that will lead us back to using.  We make daily associations such as waking up in the morning and praying or meditating.  And finally, we learn socially acceptable behavior from our sober mentors, family and friends.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit.  Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing. If you are interested in a confidential assessment, or you know someone who is, call 888-707-4673 to talk to a staff member.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Some holidays are more difficult than others for recovering alcoholics; St.Patrick’s day is often one of those holidays. It was once celebrated as a day to honor the Patron Saint of Ireland, it has evolved into an “all you can drink” party that has little to do with Ireland or St.Patrick at all.

In most American cities the holiday takes over and the parties spill out of the bars and into the streets. Chicago Taxi drivers now charge a hefty fee for anyone that  throws up in the cab, this is not an unlikely occurrence on St. Patrick's Day. There are green shamrocks as far as the eye can see and the sounds of bagpipes blow long into the night. Starting early in the morning and going strong into night, St.Patrick's Day is a holiday centered and focused on one thing; the consumption of alcohol.

Where are the recovering alcoholics during this time? Many recovering alcoholics despise this day for the obvious reasons. It is one of the few days out of the year they can have a hard time trying to avoid this type of behavior. While it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook on this day, impossible it is not. There is no reason a recovering alcoholic should feel worried, scared or intimidated on this day. Here are some helpful tips to stay sober and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day:

  • First and foremost, you don’t have to surround yourself with the mayhem. Plan accordingly ahead of time to leave the hotspots during this time. If you live in an area of your city that is a hotbed for bars, plan a day trip outside of that area and return once the festivities die down. In most cities spring is just starting to blossom. Celebrate by going to a forest preserve or nature sanctuary far secluded from any bars or parties.
  • If leaving isn't an option for you, try to avoid the crowds as much as possible. This means staying in and enjoying time at home. Plan ahead by getting all your grocery shopping done and making sure you have no reason to travel through the seas of people.  You can celebrate by making a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner and watching The Commitments.
  • Find a sober St.Patricks day party. Keep an eye peeled for sober activities at meetings and clubs in the weeks leading up to the holiday. If you’re willing to venture through your city this is a great option for any recovering alcoholics. Most Alano clubs or AA groups have sober gatherings on holidays, and there is no better way to keep from drinking or being triggered than surrounding yourself with other sober friends.
  • Stay busy. Make a list of things you need to do and knock it out while everyone else is wasting time. By staying busy and proactive you will not only be taking your mind off of the drinking. You will be congratulating yourself and patting yourself on the back over what you’re getting done on a day most people don't remember. Make a list of ten things you want to accomplish and stay busy.
  • Keep on living your life like it’s any other day. Not all recovering alcoholics are triggered or feel uncomfortable around drinking or partying, and not all of us feel the need to change our way of living over other people just because we are sober. If this is the case, do what you would do any other day to stay sober and be grateful you no longer need to live that way.

New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse and addiction treatment facility located in Chicago, IL. If you know someone who needs professional help with addiction, please call for more information 1-888-707-4673.

Want more information about how to handle holidays when you are sober? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below: 
Family Matters and the Holiday Season The holiday season is stressful time for everyone. In this audio interview from Big Oldies 93.7 Dial-a-Doc, Charles Brookover MS, LCPC, CADC speaks about how to best handle holiday gatherings and properly set your expectations for holiday celebrations. Charlie Brookover works at FHN Family Counseling Center – Jo Daviess County at 300 Summit Street Galena, IL 61036.
Alcoholism and Addiction: How to Stay Sober While Traveling Travel season is here in full force and unless you’re going on an expedition through the Alaskan tundra, there is a good chance you will be around alcohol. Vacations are a time to relax, regenerate and enjoy yourself. Unfortunately, for many recovering alcoholics and addicts, travel can cause a lot of anxiety. Many people associate vacations with alcohol and many popular vacation spots around the world use this as a main attraction.
Addiction, Recovery and Summer in Chicago With Chicago’s summer right around the corner, everyone is gearing up for baseball games, barbecues, street festivals and long days at the beach or on the water. For those who are sober, this can sound like a nightmare instead of a holiday. The majority of summertime activities often include alcohol, but most recovering from alcohol or drug addiction seem to think they revolve around alcohol. Just because you don’t drink anymore, doesn't mean you can’t enjoy the many summer activities you’re accustomed to.
Life After Rehab: 5 Tips for the Newly Sober So you've finished treatment…now what? This is a common question people ask themselves after finishing drug and alcohol rehab. Statistics show that the days, and even hours, after leaving treatment are incredibly crucial to long term sobriety.  Addiction treatment centers provide a safe, structured environment where someone is removed from their triggers and the pressures of everyday life.  Leaving the safety net of rehab can be intimidating and even frightening to some individuals although it doesn't have to be.  There are many things newly sober people can do following treatment to ensure they maintain the sobriety achieved in treatment.

Women are the fastest growing segment of the population who abuse substances, according to several research studies that have been done recently. Although more women than ever are suffering from substance abuse disorders, there still is a small number of women who actually are receiving treatment for their addiction.

Substance abuse in women is often harder to detect than in men, and can easily be overlooked by friends, family members and health care providers.  For women, a fair amount of drinking is often done at home, during hours of the day when significant others and/or children are not at home. They are also less likely to have consequences such as a DUI because they are drinking at home. Three-martini playdates are often thought of as a fun way for stay-at-home mothers to blow off the steam of being with the kids all day and as a way to bond with other moms.

Further, many women turn to alcohol and drugs in order to be able to "do it all".  Use of stimulants can help a woman raise 3 kids, do well at a high powered job, keep up the household and still have energy for the gym on a regular basis.  On top of all of this, according to the research, women are more likely than men to see health care providers on a regular basis, thus increasing their access to prescription drugs with abuse potential.  Similarly, women are just as likely as men to drink or use drugs to medicate depression and anxiety, but are more likely than men to present to a mental health provider for help, resulting in more prescriptions for benzodiazepines and sleeping aids.

Substance abuse in women is often overlooked because the abuse itself is often normalized, seen as a response to today's pressures on women.  Often women recognize the fact that they are depressed or anxious and will go to treatment for the mood condition, unaware that substance abuse needs to be addressed as well.  If and when the need for substance abuse treatment is recognized, there are often gender specific barriers to women accessing and staying in treatment.  Some of the more common and problematic barriers are:

Fear- Women with children face the very real fear of being separated from or losing primary custody of their children.  In addition, image management, while also a factor for men, can deter a woman from entering treatment due to fears about what it will look like and what others will think about her.  Women also tend to have more fears about paying for treatment as compared to men, as many women do not earn as much as men, are underemployed or unemployed.

Childcare- It is well documented in the literature that women have a harder time accessing treatment if they are the primary caregivers of young children.  Treatment initiation and retention rates are much higher for women when there is some assistance with childcare and/or when the children are allowed to stay with the mother while she is in treatment.  For many women, paying for treatment along with childcare is too much of a financial burden.

History of Trauma-  For women with a history of physical and sexual trauma, entering mixed gender treatment is often a deterrent.  Programs that offer gender specific therapy groups and therapists equipped to handle trauma increase the success of a woman entering, staying in, and ultimately being successful in addiction treatment.

Psychological/Cultural- As stated above, women often view their own substance abuse as temporary, a crutch to help deal with the pressures of working, caring for children, caring for aging parents, running a household.  Though women are more likely than men to admit to needing help, they are less likely to actually go to treatment to get the help they need. Women also suffer from shame factors that are different from men's, and admit to higher levels of suicidal ideation and low self worth directly related to substance abuse and dependence.

The more that women's issues are well understood and addressed in treatment settings, the more successful a woman can be at obtaining help and achieving long term sobriety.  Addressing each woman's specific history thoroughly in an intake procedure can ensure that the right setting is available (i.e gender specific group for a woman with a lot of male perpetrated trauma vs. a mixed gender group for a woman needing to strengthen her platonic relationships with men).  It is also important for treatment providers to continue to address these needs along the course of treatment, as they may change, and for providers and treatment centers be sensitive to the needs of each woman individually, rather than generally as women.

New Hope Recovery Center offers gender specific programming. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or Email us at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about treatment for specific populations? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Lesbians Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment Alcohol and drug abuse is a major concern for individuals who identify as lesbian. A reportpublished by SAMHSA in 2011 found people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are significantly more likely than the general population to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. This same study found lesbians are significantly more likely than heterosexual women to drink alcohol heavily.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Latino and Hispanic People There are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

Senior Citizens: Alcohol Abuse and Misuse Seniors citizens and alcohol abuse and misuse is a serious problem. With the rapidly growing senior population, it is more important than ever to stay informed about the potential mental/behavioral health threats seniors are experiencing. People seldom think of alcohol abuse or misuse to be a problem in the senior population and rarely see that they are at risk of this behavior. There are major life changes affecting this population, which leads many seniors to begin abusing or misusing alcohol (and medications), even if they never showed signs of this behavior earlier in life.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.

“Admitted to ourselves, another person and our higher power the exact nature of our wrongs”

The fifth step in addiction recovery is one of the steps that has a large impact on members. After completing the fourth step by doing a moral inventory, you now share it.  This is considered to be somewhat of a spiritual experience in itself. The fifth step simply put, is taking your fourth step and thoroughly going over it (sharing it) with your sponsor and your higher power, whatever that may be.

Prior to starting the fifth step in addiction recovery, it is important to thoroughly complete the fourth step. Once you have a properly prepared fourth step, it’s time to pick a date, a safe place and begin your fifth step with your sponsor. Going through your moral inventory can be a rigorous, emotional task that takes time and determination, but the reward is far greater than the struggle.

What does Step 5 do for our addiction recovery?

The fifth step gives us an opportunity to put to rest any resentments, fears or harms we have accumulated over the course of our using or drinking. The big book states that these are what lead to relapses, and until we say goodbye to them we will never fully recovery. In many ways, the fifth step is a way for us to say goodbye to our old behaviors as alcoholics and addicts and embrace our new sober way of living.

How do we do this?

We do this by being completely honest with ourselves, our sponsor and our higher power. We acknowledge what we have done, how it was wrong and why we did it. We see our part in what happened in the past.  This allows us to consider taking the next steps necessary to right the wrongs from our past.

The fifth step is not designed to make us feel guilt or shame for what we have done.  It’s there so we can let go of any feelings of guilt and shame we may have been holding on to. We do this in a safe place with a person we trust, and we process our entire fourth step during this time. We can only move beyond guilt and shame when we admit to our part in our wrongs.  By sharing, we remove the secrecy, shame and guilt we may feel.  Many feel liberated after completing the fifth step.

Once you finish this, it’s time to move on to the sixth step of addiction recovery, where we learn to accept our past. The fifth step is one of the more difficult steps to work through and brings up a mix of different emotions, but the necessity of this step cannot be stressed enough.  The rewards are certainly worth it.

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility.  New Hope With Pride  provides specific programming for our LGBT community members. If you would like guidance or help in handling your own addiction or that of a loved one, please contact us at 773.883.3916.

New Hope Recovery Center supports recovery addiction by offering a number of open meetings at our facility for those looking to participate in a 12 step program.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Do you worry that you or a loved one is an alcoholic or is abusing alcohol? What factors distinguish the difference between a “social drinker” and someone that has a problem?

A huge factor in what people consider to be “normal” drinking is how they grew up and the habits of those around them. Just like many things in life, people choose to compare themselves to those around them. Although you or your loved one may feel your/their drinking is normal, it could be you have set your standard of “normal” based on who you/they surround themselves with. For example: If you grew up in a home where every family gathering involved large amounts of alcohol, family members falling asleep or blacking out, this may be considered normal to you. If your friends drink daily, it is more likely that you will feel that your drinking is normal since you only go out a few times a week.

The main focus in determining alcoholism is on how drinking affects your life, your activities and your body.

Behavior Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Hiding your drinking, drinking alone or feeling guilty about your drinking
  • Drinking alcohol at times that are not considered “normal” (morning, during the day, before you go to work, etc)
  • Regularly feeling hungover in the mornings
  • Canceling plans or other responsibilities in order to hide your drinking
  • Failing to meet obligations, commitments and responsibilities due to drinking
  • Once you start drinking you cannot stop or control your drinking until you black out or people “cut you off”
  • Worry that your drinking affects others, such as your relationships with your family and/or friends
  • Drinking has impaired your ability to function in regular activities such as working, paying bills, keeping up with personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in things that at one time brought you pleasure (reading, working out, traveling, volunteering)
  • Drink to “escape” issues, stress, problems, or feelings (such as sadness, loneliness, anxiety)
  • Keep or store alcohol in unusual places
  • Spend a lot of time and energy on drinking and recovering after drinking

Physical Symptoms:

  • Feel physically sick when you don’t drink (sweating, shaking, nausea)
  • Develop a tolerance, a need to drink more to feel drunk
  • Redness of the nose and cheeks
  • Swollen or bloated face
  • Retain water in your abdomen
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Poor complexion, large pores

New Hope Recovery Center  treats clients who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction problems. The lists above identify a partial list of symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse and should only be used as a preliminary screening. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment.

Addiction Recovery: Step 4 - Moral Inventory

For many with drug, alcohol, sex or other additions, working through the 12 steps have been not only a life saver, but a life-enhancer.  They find their lives are much better than they would have been without working the steps.  The fourth step of addiction recovery seems to have a reputation amongst 12 step groups. For one, it is the first step where you put pen to paper and do some work.  People are also hesitant because of the work itself. This step of addiction recovery, more so than others, causes people to pull back the reins and balk.

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”

Many take a look at this step and wonder, “What is a fearless moral inventory?” Simply put, this step makes individuals take a look at their lives and pinpoint when they were selfish, self seeking, harmful or untruthful. It provides a safe place for people in addiction recovery to look back and see the mistakes they have made, but more importantly allows them to learn from the mistakes and move on. The importance of doing this step with a sponsor cannot be stressed enough for this reason.

Many procrastinate doing the 4th step due to feelings of shame and guilt or out of fear of stirring up old hurts.  But doing the fourth step allows us to see our defects of character and helps us realize why we did these things and how the behaviors are tied in to our addiction. In theory, moving away from our “alcoholic behaviors” will help prevent us from drinking alcohol or using drugs again in the future. The fourth step looks at your resentments, fears and harms in depth, and specifically considers what your part in them is. The real power behind this step is taking time to look at these behaviors all at once in a safe environment. Most addicts in recovery know about these behaviors, but the fourth step helps you look at them in a new light.  It’s a way to leave them behind and move on to new behaviors that promote our sobriety and help us live a better life.

Until we really review and acknowledge our past behaviors, we cannot move past them. Keeping them hidden or unobserved only allows these past behaviors to continue to reemerge in our lives.  By examining them and understanding them, we can learn to move beyond the behaviors and the patterns that led to them.

After doing a thorough fourth step, or fearless moral inventory, we are ready to move on in our step work, which helps facilitate removing these behaviors from ourselves, and ultimately making amends for these behaviors. The fourth step is the first of many “actions steps”, steps which require rigorous action to gain sobriety as opposed to decision.  Though difficult at times, the fourth step is in many ways the foundation for the rest of the steps that follow.  Step 5 of addiction recovery is next!

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility.  New Hope With Pride  provides specific programming for our LGBT community members. If you would like guidance or help in handling your own addiction or that of a loved one, please contact us at 773.883.3916.

New Hope Recovery Center supports addiction recovery by offering a number of open meetings at our facility for those looking to participate in a 12 step program.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

For many in addiction recovery, 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 this step in addiction recovery 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 into 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 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: 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 in addiction recovery 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.   Step 4 in Addiction Recovery is next.

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 or call us at 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”

After someone in addiction recovery completes the first step, they immediately move on to the second. They know what the problem is, now is the time to do some work on it. The second step helps cement the idea that sobriety cannot be achieved on one’s own, an outside force is needed. More importantly, it implies that all recovering men and women are united in this step. The second step doesn’t state who, what or how this power can help us, it just states that we must come to believe that this is what is needed to stay sober. This step usually invokes a great deal of emotion and causes one to ask many questions.

  • What is a power greater than ourselves?
  • How can it help me stay sober?
  • Was I insane?

The basis of this step is that YOU can’t keep YOU sober, something else is needed. The line heard around globe is, “your thinking got you here, try something else”. If you ask 10 different recovering individuals what a higher power is, you will probably get 10 different answers, the important thing is that it’s not them. Once someone understands that they cannot keep themselves sober, they can begin to accept that maybe something else can. At this time, many people either know what this power can be or start to think of ideas of what it can be. It is completely left up to the individual, there are no guidelines or rules, it just can’t be you.

Restore us to sanity? Are alcoholics and addicts insane? No, but the thinking that goes into it might be. By definition, insanity is “doing the same thing over again expecting different results.” This can hold true to almost all alcoholics and addicts who step into a 12 step meeting. Many people who enter a 12 step program didn’t get to that point over night. It took years, and in some cases even decades to progress to that phase of needing help. Trying to stop on their own countless times and trying to control their drinking, always ending in the same result.

The second step in addiction recovery is about becoming willing to make a change and do something different, and the start of many different changes to come.  Now that you are willing, begin Step 3 of Addiction Recovery.

For more information about the 12 Steps or for a list of meetings in the Chicago area go to:

If you are concerned you wont be able to do this alone and think treatment will help you get started in recovery, please call or email New Hope Recovery Center and schedule an assessment that is completely confidential. For more addiction help please call us at 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center