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Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous

What is Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous Step 3 says, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” Some alcoholics initially have a hard time with this step because of conflicting feelings about religion or because they do not believe in God. However, this step isn’t meant to be a religious obligation; it’s meant to help alcoholics rely on something other than themselves to help them abstain from drinking alcohol. There are several ways recovering alcoholics can use this step to make changes in their lives.

  • Begin distinguishing between what is in their control and what isn’t.  Alcoholics often cover up feelings of being out of control by attempting to control everything in their lives, including their own drinking. Some alcoholics drink to forget that other painful things in their lives are beyond their control. One way these alcoholics can use Step 3 is to ask themselves if they have control over something that is upsetting them. Learning to let go of things that are beyond their control may help some alcoholics reduce the desire to drink.
  • Cultivate a positive attitude. The feelings behind alcohol addiction are usually painful; often, alcoholics feel they can’t deal with pain, anger or frustration and drink to relieve themselves of these feelings. By learning to turn over these feelings to some sort of higher power, alcoholics 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 alcoholics find it difficult to accept help because of their need for control. Alcoholics sometimes spend energy resisting therapists or counselors’ suggestions instead of making changes in their lives. Step 3 suggests that the alcoholic should instead be open to help from whatever source it comes because whatever higher power (including the alcoholic’s best vision of himself) the alcoholic is working with might be directing the alcoholic towards better behavior.

Understanding the 3rd Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Prayer

The 3rd step of Alcoholics Anonymous can be one of the most difficult for the alcoholic to grasp. It’s important for alcoholics to understand this step in context. Step 3 is the third of three steps meant to help the alcoholic give up the illusion that he is in control of his drinking. Alcoholics often believe that they can control how much they drink or how they behave while drunk and deny that they have a problem. The first three steps of Alcoholics Anonymous gradually help shift the alcoholic’s thinking about his own drinking. First, the alcoholic must admit that he has a problem – that he doesn’t have the personal power to stop himself from drinking. Then, he must come to terms with the idea of seeking a higher power to help him 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 outside of the alcoholic himself that inspires him. It can be the alcoholic’s dream of who he wants to be, a favorite television character he admires or even something intangible like his children’s love and admiration. As long as the higher power inspires the alcoholic to live better and he feels he can trust it, it’s acceptable.  Then and only then can the alcoholic turn over his will and life to the care of this higher power.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step program for people who struggle with alcohol addiction. Step 3 helps alcoholics make a decision to change their lives by changing their attitude. If you’re struggling with alcoholism, taking this step can help you begin to change your way of life. Visit the AA website to find a meeting near you.

Finding the right alcohol addiction management and recovery support system, whether it’s AA or an alternative, starts with information. Our admissions navigators are available to speak with you about treatment options and recovery support systems at any time of day. Call our hotline at to continue your journey toward recovery today.

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