The 12 Steps & Your Higher Power

As a Christian, you already understand the concept of a Higher Power:  God and Jesus Christ are there for you to surrender your will and turn your life over to.

12 Steps Complement Faith-Based Recovery

The majority of Christian drug rehabs are grounded in the 12-Step principles. The 12-Step program has a documented history of success that spans nearly a century, and continues to be one of the most effective and widely used programs of recovery today. Research shows that individuals with a religious background are particularly successful when they work a 12-Step program.

Christians in recovery often find that the 12 Steps provide practical tools for living in Christ, help guard against relapse and greatly enhance their experience of recovery. Those who have an extensive knowledge of the Bible may still need guidance on how religion and recovery intersect. Twelve-Step programs provide concrete opportunities to learn and practice new skills and get feedback and support from other Christians in recovery.

Origins in Christianity

The 12-Step program, which was first introduced by Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1930s, is built upon Christian principles. The 12 Steps stem from the teachings of an Episcopal priest and Lutheran pastor who drew the concepts for each of the Steps directly from scripture. Since the Steps were first introduced, they have been modified and adapted to suit religious and non-religious recovery programs, but its origins are in Christianity.

In no way do Christians need to abandon their faith to work the Steps. The 12 Steps are not intended to replace religious services but to offer practical, day-to-day support for living a moral Christian life. The 12-Step principles are grounded in the basics of what it means to be a Christian. Honesty, humility, forgiveness, service to others and faith in God are all central concepts in addiction recovery as well as the scriptures.

Alcoholics Anonymous has laid out the Christian 12 Steps with corresponding scriptures to illustrate the relationship between the two.


Step One We admitted we were powerless over our separation from God—that our lives had become unmanageable. “I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (ROMANS 7:18)
Step Two Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (PHILIPPIANS 2:13)
Step Three Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship.” (ROMANS 12:1)
Step Four Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (LAMENTATIONS 3:40)
Step Five Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (JAMES 5:16)
Step Six Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (JAMES 4:10)
Step Seven Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 JOHN 1:9)
Step Eight Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (LUKE 6:31)
Step Nine Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift.” (MATTHEW 5:23-24)
Step Ten Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” (1 CORINTHIANS 10:12)
Step Eleven Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (COLOSSIANS 3:16)
Step Twelve Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (GALATIANS 6:1)