Step 2 of the 12 Steps

Step 2 of the 12 Steps is about hope, there is an answer and this answer is a Power Greater than Ourselves.

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 2 of the 12 StepsThis was an especially hard step for me. When I came into recovery I had a spiritual hole in me and I am not in the slightest religious. Being told that a Higher Power can relieve me of the need to use and to help me in my recovery was a massive challenge for me.

I was also very angry that I am an addict and felt that the world was very unfair. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? How can I live my life being an addict that can never use again?

These challenges are not unique to me, there are lots of addicts that are not religious. Or perhaps they were and are now angry with God for allowing them to be addicts.

What is Step 2 About?

Step 2 simply teaches us that there is a Higher Power that can restore us to sanity if we work the steps and follow the 12 Step Program. Our insanity is that we kept doing the same things expecting different results.

We learn what is meant by a Higher Power. 12 Step programs are spiritual, not religious. Your Higher Power is personal to you and this step will help you to connect with your Higher Power. This step is not so much focused on what your Higher Power is for you, but more on what your Higher Power can do for you.

During our addiction we had no hope. We did the same destructive things over and over again, the results were the same. When we start coming to 12 Step meetings we see other addicts that are clean and living a full life in recovery. We hear these addicts share about their addiction and where it took them, how they worked the program and got clean. We learn that we too can achieve this.

Even though we feel pain when we are stripped of our denial, this feeling is replaced with hope for the future.

Step 2 of the 12 Steps HopeStep 2 also teaches us about our insanity. During our active addiction we believed we could control our using even though it was very clear we couldn’t. We look at how we made bad decisions and how our lives were out of balance.

Most of us have barriers, preventing us from believing in a Higher Power. These barriers are addressed during this step. We look at what is holding us back and what we do believe in. Often we have a clearer idea of what a Higher Power is not, than what a Higher Power is.

The next focus point in this step is restoration to sanity. Through being clean for a short period of time and starting to work the program we are able to make better decisions. We have a better perspective and are able to see that we do have a decision about the choices me make and the way we act. As we grow in recovery our understanding of sanity changes. It is important to realise that just because we have stopped using does not mean all our old destructive ways are miraculously gone. Restoration to sanity is a process and will take some time.

Spiritual Principles of Step 2

  • Open-mindedness: we open our minds to the fact that we cannot do this alone, that we need help.
  • Willingness: to go to meetings, to work with our sponsor, to listen to other addicts’ stories, to do things we might previously have been unwilling to do.
  • Faith: we have to act as if we have faith. We don’t have to be dishonest but faith is not something that appears overnight.
  • Trust: we need to trust in the program and that the pain we will feel during this time we can get through.
  • Humility: we stop relying on our own thinking and begin to ask for help.

When I started Step 2 I struggled with it and was full of self will, which is the opposite of God’s will. I was told by my sponsor that if I can’t believe in God I must find something to believe and trust in. She suggested I use the 12 Step meetings and members as my Higher Power to start with. This was a big step for me and it worked wonders in my life.

Please leave a comment if you are needing help with Step 2 or if you have anything you would like to add.

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  1. Chris says:

    Great article on a subject I went through in my youth. I love the tips and techniques you have covered here.
    I personally opted for sport as a way out – in particular long distance running. The problem was that I then got addicted to that and ended up with numerous injuries through over-exercise.
    What are your opinions on using sport as a way out of addiction?

    • Lynne says:

      Hi Chris, great point there and that is something I will be covering at some stage. With getting clean we are taking something out of our life. This must be replaced with something else, it cannot just be an empty void or we will try and fill it with something else unhealthy.

      I think taking up running, exercise or any other sport/ activity is a great idea. Not many addicts are doing many healthy activities and getting clean is about changing how we do things. The difficulty comes in that anything can become an addiction! Work, exercise, gambling, the internet, sex, relationships…you name it and you can probably become addicted to it. As an addict we need to be aware of cross-addicting from our drug of choice to something else.

    • John says:

      Working with someone outside of your normal circle will help in finding your spiritual guidance. This step will give you the freedom from following the wrong people and routines. Change is what getting rid of an addiction is all about. When I started back to Church this gave me a path to get rid of my addictions by giving me a different crowd to hang with. This step alone will not get you there, you must follow all of the steps if you want to have freedom from your addictions.

      • Lynne says:

        Yes John I agree, I will be adding all the other steps as soon as I can. What you have said now about going back to Church is wonderful. The cornerstone of step 2 is realizing you cannot do it alone, you need help.

      • Javier says:

        Your article really touched me. I am a doctor and because of my particular taste for physical activity I worked coordinating exercise programs for addictions. What you say is true, the spiritual aspect is really indispensable. Understand “spiritual” as something that has significance, it is of the first things a person must acquire to overcome his compulsion, to understand that life must have a meaning, a goal and that goal must be accompanied by a ritual.
        I tried to show that goal through physical activity, but it was easier said than done. I remember that because of my inexperience I couldn’t see the signs of one of my patients who was showing me his suicide intentions. When consummated the act I could not contain my feelings of guilt and cried in front my colleagues and my other patients.

        What you teach in this blog is very valuable and must be known not only by patients but also by therapists, who must be strong to spread strength and optimism.

        Thank you very much.

        • Lynne says:

          It is a pleasure Javier. I’m sorry to hear about your sad experience. Unfortunately life is not always easy. I have had a sponsee that died because of her addictions. Today I had another sponsee relapse on heroine. It is hard not to be consumed with guilt when these things happen. But everyone makes their own choices in life and they have to then live with the consequences of their actions. I am sorry you lost a patient, that must have been terribly hard.

        • Cathy says:

          You provide so much help in your blog … amazing!

          In my line of work (natural health), I’ve worked with many addicts and for the most part, generally use a straightforward wellness protocol. The protocol always includes a hefty amount of minerals because the lack of correct mineralization in the body leads to an imbalance of neurotransmission activity and this leads to addiction.

          I’ve seen it work for folks over and over and over again.

          What kind of supplementation program do you suggest to folks, if any? Or, is this something new to you? Just FYI … most of the clients who come to me with addiction issues are very shocked to learn about this and even more shocked when it works for them.

          You are serving a noble purpose here and I greatly admire you for doing so. God Bless You!

          • Lynne says:

            Hi Cathy

            Physical health is an important aspect of course, but not something I have focused on in particular. Yes I try and eat properly and exercise when I get the chance…. but I focus on my meetings, my stepwork and implementing the 12 steps in my day to day life.

            I am not familiar with supplements with regards to recovery from addiction. Although I don’t think focusing only on supplements to get clean and stay clean would be the way to go I do think placing importance on physical health is a great idea. What kind of supplements would you recommend and why?

            Another point is that during addiction we don’t eat very well and we basically poison our bodies with drugs and alcohol. I can most certainly see the benefit of supplements in addition to a good recovery program!

            Kind Regards


          • Raymond says:

            Hi Lynne,

            Great article! I think certainly if this works for you then roll with it as long as you can 🙂

            For my recovery it was more of understanding my addictions. Why I do them and what led me to make these awful decisions.

            Drinking was a confidence thing for me. I was an neglected and abused little boy and getting stone cold drunk was an outlet. It enabled me to be more social whilst forgetting about my horrible past.

            Thankfully, now I’m tremendously confident and don’t need mind altering substances to be brilliantly social. However, a friend once told me that addictions never leave. After analysing myself I found out that I had swapped drinking alcohol for Coffee and smoking tobacco for ecigs.

            Haha 🙂

            • Lynne says:

              Hi Raymond

              Thanks for sharing you experience with us. I totally agree, confidence is a biggie for me too. With a couple of drinks I could be the confident and outgoing person I wanted to be. I also experienced some very traumatic events in my teens and I can see that jump started my addictions.

              I will be covering information on cross addiction. Show me a recovering addict that doesn’t go wild for coffee lol!

              Kind Regards

            • NemiraB says:

              Hello here. You cover really important topic here because there are so many people who are not enough strong to believe in themselves and at the same time ask for help.
              I heard about this program and that it helps to those in need.
              Second step is about higher power. I think that everybody, who just would calm down , sit for few minutes every day, would feel some connection with themselves and with energy from outside. We need to calm down our minds. When we are quiet, we able to find lost peace and knowledge, that we are not alone.
              For me it seems that somebody waits with patience for us, till we will ask for help. It does not matter what do we ask.
              Most important is our belief what it is something more powerful, loving and wise compare with all people on Earth.
              Trust and open mind, willingness to give us completely to mercy of Higher Power would free us from worries, fear and helpless feelings.
              Thanks for providing this information, all the best, happy writing, Nemira.

              • Lynne says:

                Hi Nemira

                Thanks for visiting my website on recovery from addiction 🙂

                I love what you said about finding quiet and peace. During active addiction our minds are so noisy and all over the place. The peace and quiet we can achieve from connecting with our Higher Power in the second step is very powerful.

                Kind Regards


              • Ian says:

                A power greater than ourselves. That can be one of the most difficult steps of the 12 step program.

                I found my Higher Power in Tibetan Buddhism and it helps me immensely with my recovery. I can feel the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (roughly a Buddhist saint) around me and feel serenity.

                Thanks for sharing, this is a great post.

                • Lynne says:

                  Hi Ian

                  Yes, this is a huge stumbling block for many people trying to find recovery with the 12 step program. It really does help if you have an understanding already or believe in something already before you attempt this step…however it is not impossible even if you are an atheist or a non-believer!

                • Lauren Kinghorn says:

                  Hi Lynne, fascinating article. Those Spiritual principles are so powerful. I am interested to know whether you were ever able to move beyond trusting in the 12 Steps meetings and members to a relationship with a Higher Power greater than that, the Creator or what I would call God… or simply Love. Has your spirituality developed over the years or do you still struggle to believe in a Power greater than ourselves?

                  • Lynne says:

                    Hi Lauren

                    I am still not religious if that is what you mean 🙂 However I don’t struggle with the concept of a higher power anymore at all. I am still alive and if that is enough proof for me that there is a Higher Power out there looking after me!

                    Yes my spirituality has developed in an amazing way. I don’t rely on the 12 steps as heavily as I used to and I am enjoying my recovery in a completely new way.

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