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Alcoholics Anonymous Step 11

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The consequences of alcohol misuse not only affect an individual socially, physically, and occupationally, but also those they love and are connected to.1 Those troubled by the ills of alcohol use disorder (AUD) are not without hope. There are numerous therapies and programs that individuals can participate in to achieve long-term sobriety.

One of those programs is the 12-Step program, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Alcoholics Anonymous works through 12-Steps, which are a set of spiritual principles, and its primary mission is to help those struggling with alcohol misuse and alcohol addiction.2

Each of the 12-Steps provides a comprehensive, interactive roadmap on how one can stay sober long-term. In this article, we will examine Step 11 of the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous Step 11?

Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous is the portion of the program that requires the development of a spiritual life. The basis and foundation of Step 11 is: “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.”3

In this step, we see where prayer and meditation are utilized in the path to long-term sobriety. In Step 11, people are called to get closer to God, or if they practice a different religion or are agnostic, another spiritual higher power. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous can use Step 11 as a way of making conscious contact with their higher power through prayer and meditation.3

Prayer is defined by Alcoholics Anonymous as, “A daily petition for the understanding of God’s will and the grace he allows us to carry it out.”4 This spiritual practice involves communication with a higher power that has the express goal of connecting with them and learning their plans for the AA participant.

As it relates to the road to recovery and Step 11, the power of prayer is used as an element to propel one not only closer to God or their higher power but to lean on this direction and guidance in maintaining sobriety. The ideology of prayer in Step 11 also speaks to its necessity. Step 11 suggests that “those who utilize prayer regularly would no more do without than one’s refusal of the essentials of air, food, or sunshine.”3

Meditation can be defined as a mind-body complementary and alternative medicine technique where one focuses intentionally in a moment that centers and focuses them.5 This practice allows one to step away from all that is around them and center their emotions and thoughts in a quiet moment.

Meditation can be classified into 2 categories which are concentrative and mindfulness.5 In Step 11, we are encouraged to incorporate meditation with prayer. The forms of your meditation may be different from someone else, but the desired end is the same. In your process of Step 11, you can work the portion of meditation in your own way.

Prayer and meditation are essential to Step 11. In this step, we see there is a direct link between meditation, self-examination, and prayer. Each of these disciplines must be done in tandem to achieve the desired effects.3 There is great benefit in utilizing these practices on the road to recovery from alcohol use disorder.

Turning away from meditation and prayer can deprive our minds, emotions, and intuitions of the support that is needed, as stated in Step 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous.3 The benefits of both prayer and meditation are a sense of belonging, emotional balance, encouragement, and a sense of purpose.

How to Begin and Work Step 11

Step 11 has elements that have to be worked through. One must make sure they not only incorporate these practices but that they complete the steps in full. The following steps can be used to work through Step 11:

  • Make sure you allow time each day for both meditation and prayer.
  • Center yourself through meditation and identify the form of meditation that works best for you.
  • After prayer and meditation, inwardly focus on how it is affecting you and make the necessary adjustments.

How to Follow Step 11

Step 11 is a critical step and must be followed closely. One of the ways to successfully follow this step is to continually develop your meditation methods. These methods may evolve over time as you get further into your meditation journey.

Secondly, it is suggested that you pray as often as possible. Prayer is simply talking to God or your higher power. Lastly, remember to go easy on yourself. Step 11 is a substantial step and takes time, patience, and perseverance.

Another thing you can do is reflect or focus on the Alcoholics Anonymous statement, “If we remind ourselves that it is better to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood, to love than to be loved, we will be following the intent of Step 11.” This statement can be repeated at times when you feel that your journey is difficult or getting tough. In following Step 11, it is important to not be too hard on yourself and to continue to pray even if you temporarily stop.

Myths and Misunderstandings About AA Step 11

One of the biggest myths or misunderstandings about AA Step 11 is that it’s steeped in Christian tradition and practices. While the Christian practice of prayer is a part of this step, it doesn’t encourage one to believe solely in God. You are encouraged to pray to a higher power that you believe in, but still incorporate some form of prayer. In spite of the myths, one should still follow this step. According to AA Step 11, prayer, meditation, and self-examination are extremely important functions.3

How to Find Help with Alcoholics Anonymous Step 11

For decades, rehabilitation and treatment of alcohol use disorder with the help of the AA 12-Step program has provided the support and tools people need to be successful.

You can attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near your home or anywhere in the world. To locate an AA meeting, visit the AA website and search for a location near you.

Alcohol addiction is treatable. Call American Addiction Centers (AAC) at to speak with a trained and compassionate admissions navigator who can help answer questions you may have about the treatment process. You can also verify your insurance coverage or search our online treatment directory. Begin your path to sobriety today.

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Senior Web Content Editor
Jennifer Fifield is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert for drugabuse.com and recovery.org. She holds a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and a master’s degree in Health Promotion Management. Jennifer has served as a content editor on numerous articles, web pages, and blog posts within the medical, dental, and vision industry. She has 15+ years of experience in higher education including writing/editing, administrative, and teaching positions within the health/wellness, accreditation, and health communications areas.
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