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Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the oldest organizations that offer addiction treatment. Their 12 Step method gives those struggling with alcohol addiction a roadmap to recovery, often by encouraging them to acknowledge their addiction and to work towards sobriety. Step 3 of the 12 Steps focuses on encouraging one to acknowledge what they can and cannot control, and to seek help when needed.

What is Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 3 encourages those to make,  “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” Some may initially have a hard time with this step, largely due to the way it is worded. Those who do not believe in god or having conflicting feelings of religion may initially shy away from Step 3. However, this step isn’t meant to be a religious obligation. Instead, Step 3 is meant to help people rely on something other than themselves to help them abstain from drinking alcohol. This can mean seeking help from friends, family, licensed professionals, religious beliefs, or anything that can help one ground themselves and work towards sobriety.

Understanding Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous can be one of the most difficult to grasp. It’s important to understand this step in context. Step 3 is the third of three steps meant to help one give up the illusion that he is in control of his drinking. Many who struggle with alcohol addiction often believe that they can control how much they drink or how they behave while drunk. In a sense, they may deny that they have a problem. The first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous gradually help shift the one’s thinking about their drinking. First, one must admit that they have a problem – that they don’t have the personal power to stop drinking. Then, they must come to terms with the idea of seeking a higher power to help them live a better life. In Alcoholics Anonymous, the higher power doesn’t have to be God, although many people interpret higher power to mean God. It can be anything that sparks an inspiration to achieve a sober life. Then and only then can one turn over their will and life to the care of this higher power.

 

Ways to Follow Step 3 of AA

Begin distinguishing between what is in their control and what isn’t.

Those struggling with alcohol addiction often cover up feelings of being out of control by attempting to control everything in their lives, including their own drinking. Some drink to forget that other painful things in their lives are beyond their control. One way to use Step 3 is to consider if you have truly have the power to control certain aspects of your life, such as your drinking. Learning to let go of things that are beyond their control may help some to reduce their desire to drink.

Cultivate a positive attitude.

The feelings behind alcohol addiction are usually painful; often, those struggling with alcohol addiction feel they can’t deal with pain, anger or frustration. As a result, many may turn to drinking as a coping mechanism to relieve themselves of these feelings. By learning to turn over these feelings to some sort of higher power, people may begin feeling more capable of dealing with life’s challenges, which can help alleviate the compulsion to drink.

Being more open to guidance.

Many find it difficult to accept help because of their need for control. Those struggling with alcohol addiction sometimes spend energy resisting therapists or counselors’ suggestions instead of making changes in their lives. Step 3 suggests that one should instead be open to help from whatever source it comes.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Help for alcohol addiction is easy to find, but it is not always easy to ask for. Overcoming an addiction to or a dependency on alcohol can be a long and sometimes frustrating process, but if you’ve made the decision to stop drinking you’ve crossed the most important hurdle in your recovery.

If you’re ready to get help with alcohol addiction, visit the AA website to find a support group near you. There are also many secular programs and alternatives to AA that may help you achieve or maintain recovery.

However, if you or a loved one need alcohol detox support or addiction treatment, you may benefit from attending treatment at a dedicated rehab facility. American Addiction Centers (AAC) operates alcohol treatment facilities nationwide, with navigators standing by 24/7 to help you get admitted into treatment. Our addiction helpline may also be able to help connect you with rehabs near you. To speak to an admissions navigator, call .

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