The 11th Step: Establishing A Closer Connection With God

After years of study and trying to find more effective ways of helping those who suffer from alcohol and drug dependency, we now understand addiction to be a chronic, progressive disease of the brain. Whereas addicts were oftentimes sentenced to jail time since addiction was a largely criminal offense, today’s addicts are encouraged to seek recovery through the variety of addiction treatments that are available. Counseling and psychotherapy, group and family therapy, skills building, addiction education, and relapse prevention strategies are all essential parts of recovery programming at countless facilities nationwide, but a comprehensive recovery frequently requires a variety of supplements to treatment programming.

In particular, twelve-step programs have shown to be an incredibly effective tool for individuals seeking physical as well as social and spiritual recovery. Since its inception in 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has remained the quintessential twelve-step program and was the first vehicle for individuals to employ the twelve-step method. This renowned method consists of twelve distinct steps that are intended to be followed in numerical order, allowing individuals to progress from a state of dependency to one of comprehensive recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous and its many derivative groups also afford a sense of community and accountability to individuals who have struggled with substance abuse.

Beginning with acceptance of powerlessness to alcohol or drugs, individuals proceed to take an inventory of character defects, make amends to those who were wronged over the course of active addiction, develop a stronger relationship with the higher power of one’s understanding, and eventually reach a point of being able to help new members work through the twelve steps. Each individual step builds upon the success of the previous one, making the twelve steps a cumulative recovery process. As such, each individual step is an important piece of the recovery puzzle, helping individuals to overcome a specific component of addiction and bringing them ever closer to lasting sobriety.

Step 11: Connecting With a Higher Power

Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson first published the twelve steps just a few years after the creation of his recovery fellowship, which intended to be a concise blueprint for twelve-step recovery. With the twelve-step method having a strong basis in spirituality in recovery, a number of the steps see members strengthening their faiths by reconnecting with the higher powers of their understanding, which could be the Abrahamic God, another deity or deities, or even a spiritual belief that does not include a specific god of worship.

According to the eleventh step, individuals working through twelve-step recovery seek “through prayer and meditation to improve [their] conscious contact with God as [they understand] Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for [them] and the power to carry [that will] out.” It’s important to note that while the eleventh step names the Abrahamic God specifically, the step clarifies by also saying that individuals can seek to improve their connection with the higher power of their understanding. This serves to make the eleventh step—and twelve-step recovery as a whole—accessible to individuals no matter what system of belief they may follow. Steps involving a strengthening of faith and reconnecting with the higher power of one’s understanding reinforce the spiritual components of twelve-step recovery, which views the process of healing and recovering from addiction to be as spiritual as it is a physical and psychological process.

Over the course of addiction, alcoholics and drug addicts experience profound deterioration in virtually all aspects of life. Their mental and physical health, spirituality, and quality of life drop substantially as a result of chemical dependency while the experience of such hardship often makes individuals defeatist and self-pitying. Moreover, developing an addiction means that one’s substance of choice becomes the highest power in the individual’s life. As such, spiritual renewal and revitalization is an essential part of recovery according to the twelve steps, requiring individuals to turn themselves over to the higher power of their understanding in order to continue the positive transformation that results from the twelve-step recovery.

What Role Does Faith Play in Recovery?

Although individuals can still experience much success in alcohol and drug addiction recovery without the spiritual component that the twelve-step method offers, incorporating one’s faith into treatment and rehabilitation serves to offer a more comprehensive recovery that touches on all aspects of an individual’s life that have been affected by active addiction. Additionally, the experience of active alcohol or drug addiction tends to make individuals cynical while the pursuit of renewed faith and reconnecting with one’s spiritual side has been shown to improve morale and one’s state of mind when in recovery. Spirituality has also shown to be effective in overcoming the denial that’s common among individuals suffering from chemical dependency, making it easier to accept the reality of one’s powerlessness to the disease of addiction, which is an essential step in the recovery process.

Connecting to a Higher Power While in Recovery

Each stage of recovery is accompanied by its own difficulties. In the earliest stage, individuals must overcome the physical component of addiction and the withdrawal symptoms that the abrupt cessation of substance abuse inevitably brings. However, remaining aware of the benefits that sobriety will bring can serve as a foundation to renewed spirituality; individuals who are struggling with the exertion required for recovery should try to remember that the means justify the end, which is to embark on a life free from the chains of alcohol and drug addiction.

Many individuals of faith choose to begin studying scripture while in recovery as it strengthens one’s faith while serving to be a productive, reinvigorating way to spend time and keep busy. Prayer and meditation are also common recovery tools and can be instrumental in being more spiritual while recovering from addiction. There are many ways to incorporate faith in one’s rehabilitation. The eleventh step serves as the penultimate checkpoint for twelve-step recovery, comprised of the point in which individuals turn to the higher power of their understandings to accept a path of lasting sobriety.

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