My 12 Secular Principles

A while back, a friend knew about my struggles with the AA 12 Steps, and suggested that I re-write them to be my own. So I have. They are below.

Some quick notes: I rephrased them all in the present tense, since they are likely to be with me for some time. I also got rid of the “higher power” and “God as we understood him” stuff. I’m an atheist and I have a hard time swallowing those words even as metaphors. In several cases, I’ve switch from “God” to “community” primarily because I believe that, as social mammals, we do our best when we help each other. I can make use of that help, and I can be helpful to others.

I’ve also changed the name from “steps” to “principles” because I don’t really think of them as a progression, from one to another. I view them as guidelines for recovery, healing, and growth.

The other point I’d like to make is that I don’t think these principles are magical, or guaranteed to work for me or anyone. I’ve made this translation so that I can go to AA meetings and have an easy substitution for the steps, printed out and ready to remind myself how I want to approach and engage with the community.

Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps Secular 12 Principles
1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. I admit that I struggle with an addiction that has a negative impact on my life.
2 Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. I admit that I  need help and support to enjoy my life free of this addiction.
3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. I seek a community that can help and support me in my efforts to be free of this addiction.
4 Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. I document all my behaviors and beliefs which contribute to my own addiction.
5 Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. I acknowledge my behaviors and beliefs to myself and my community.
6 Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. I admit I am ready to change my behaviors and beliefs.
7 Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. I actively work to change my behaviors and beliefs, replacing them with better behaviors and beliefs.
8 Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. I document all of the people that I have harmed through my addiction.
9 Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. I apologize and make amends to the best of my ability to those I’ve harmed through my addiction.
10 Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. I regularly evaluate my behaviors and beliefs, acknowledging and correcting errors as quickly as I am able.
11 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. Through my community of support, I continue to learn how best to live addiction free.
12 Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. I provide support to others who are struggling in the same ways as I have.