Spiritual Aspects

Spirituality is at the core of Twelve-Step recovery from addiction. We talk about spiritual aspects, but spirituality permeates all aspects of recovery.

Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps were written to explain how alcoholics used a Higher Power to quit drinking. As Dr. Bob said, the Twelve Steps tell you how to trust God, clean house, and help others. Recovering people in your Twelve-Step program can tell you how to use the Steps in your recovery, and you can read the Big Book and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions for background information.

Each person’s journey in recovery is different. Look at your beliefs, your values, and the Steps. See if living life on a spiritual basis appeals to you.


Sometimes Twelve-Step groups, including AA, get diverted from their primary purpose (abstinence from addictive behavior and carrying the message to others) into other issues. Dr. Bob kept reminding Bill to stick to that primary purpose. His last words to Bill were, “Remember, Bill, let’s not louse this thing up. Let’s keep it simple!” (Pass It On, p. 342.) The gift of recovery is a spiritual experience that comes from the grace of your Higher Power.

Athiests and Agnostics

The Twelve Steps were written in the late 1930s. Even then, they sounded very religious to many people. They wrote a chapter in the Big Book of AA called We Agnostics but it’s a really poor attempt to help athiests and agnostics work a spiritual program. It makes it sound like if you just keep coming and work with us, you will gain a belief in a Higher Power. If the word “God” or “Higher Power” turns you off, please read the modules Secular Spiritualism and Program before going further. You definitely can work a Twelve-Step program without anything like a traditional God.

Special Adaptation

Each kind of addiction has its own special application of the Twelve Steps. The early alcoholics had lots of resentments and had hurt many people. Your experience may be different. The beauty of the Steps as tools is that you can use them as you need to recover from a wide Variety of addictive behaviors. In your fellowship you can share how you do that with other addicts or people like yourself.

Step Twelve suggests that you practice these spiritual principles in your whole life. Refer to the modules following “see also” for more help in doing that.

Spiritual aspects, see also: Attitudes, Beliefs, Forgiveness, Higher Power, Integrity & values, Love & caring, Program, Secular spirituality, Spirituality, Steps of AA, Surrender, Traditions of AA.

Updated 11 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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