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Alcoholics Anonymous Step 2

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Struggling with alcohol addiction is challenging, but you’re not alone. In 2020, 28.3 million people over the age of 12 reported suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD).1 Practicing the spiritual principles of 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as a way of life can aid in your journey to recovery.2

A 12-Step program is a fellowship where individuals support one another in fighting drug or alcohol addiction and maintaining sobriety.2 By accepting addiction as a disease and developing personal and spiritual growth, you can gain the tools to improve your life.3

Each step of AA brings you closer to regaining control over your life and promoting long-term recovery.2 This page will focus solely on Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous, helping you to understand its purpose and common misunderstandings surrounding it.

What Is Alcoholics Anonymous Step 2?

After accepting powerlessness over your addiction in Step 1, Step 2 of AA encourages belief in a higher power.4 The devotion, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity,” is intended to help you gain control over your addiction by trusting in someone or something to deliver you from your struggles.4

Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t require that you choose or designate a religion; however, you will need to be open to placing your control in something or someone higher than yourself.4

Alcoholics Anonymous literature considers Step 2 “the rallying point for those looking to stop their alcohol use” because letting go of power in the early stages helps you to accept the help you need with an open mind.4 It sets the premise for success in the following AA steps and allows you to achieve long-term recovery.2

What Is a Higher Power?

The belief in a higher power originally stemmed from the religious fundamentals that AA was built on.5 Each step is only a suggestion; you are not forced to believe in anything you do not want to believe in.4 Your quest for a higher power is more about what you value and can take form in various ways. A higher power can be spiritual, religious, or anything you have faith in.4 Step 2 even states, “You can, if you wish, make AA itself your higher power.“4 Some examples of common higher powers are:4

  • Believing in a god or a religious figure: If you’re religious, the higher power you choose will likely be connected to your religion. Regardless of what you believe in, you’ll receive guidance and support by having faith in the god or deity you choose.
  • Trusting in science: Learning about the science of addiction, understanding how it happens, and understanding how to get better can serve as a higher power. You’ll be reminded of how drugs and alcohol affect the brain and your behavior. Science can also help you remember that addiction is a disease and not a lack of willpower or a moral flaw.
  • Putting your faith in a role model: If there’s a loved one or public figure that you highly regard, you might choose them as your higher power. You can look to their qualities and characteristics for motivation and aspiration.
  • Embracing nature: Nature has many healing properties that can awaken your senses and allow you to connect with the environment. Using nature as your higher power allows you to tap into the holistic healing potential of your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Envisioning a better version of yourself: A better version of yourself that is free of addiction can also represent your higher power. You can imagine this version of yourself by writing down qualities you aspire to have once you’re sober. You can also draw back to the person you once were before addiction.
  • Trusting in your morals: Your higher power could be guided by your moral principles. Maybe giving back to the community or helping others fulfills you. A commitment to being a good person is a higher power that can change your connection with the world and your view of yourself.
  • Having assurance in AA: Watching the members of your support group grow and change can represent a higher power. If you’re not sure about religion or your beliefs, the bond of your support system can be motivational.

There’s no one-size-fits-all version of a higher power. Whatever is special or sacred to you and positively motivates you to stay sober can be a higher power. Alcoholics Anonymous can benefit anyone dedicated to achieving sobriety—from former believers and believers to agnostics and atheists.

How to Start, Work, and Follow Step 2

Starting the work for Step 2 requires a willingness to get better.4 Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, having faith in a higher power will positively permeate every aspect of your life.

Entering Step 2 with an open mind is the best way to embrace humility and let go of self-righteousness. Replacing negative thinking with positive thinking sets you on the right path to completing the other steps. Important tips to begin and work through Step 2 of AA are:4

  • Have faith in something greater than yourself.
  • Understand you’ll need help in conquering your addiction.
  • Find support in your recovery outside of yourself.
  • Express gratitude daily.
  • Think about life through a spiritual lens.

The journey to recovery takes hard work and dedication. Attending AA meetings with an open heart can light the fire to help you achieve the goals of Step 2 and lead you to long-term recovery. It’s best to apply the teachings of Step 2 little by little to achieve and maintain sobriety. Don’t overwhelm yourself and think you have to conform to all of Step 2 at once. Being open to new ideas about this step will help you accept the changes it might require.

What Are Common Misunderstandings About AA Step 2?

There are myths and misunderstandings surrounding AA Step 2 that can get in the way of those seeking the help they need, such as:

  • Your higher power must be rooted in religion: This common misconception can make people feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s science, spirituality, a love for nature, music, art, or helping others, whatever motivates you to fight addiction can be your higher power.
  • If you’re religious, your higher power must be God: Although AA has Christian roots, choosing God as your higher power is merely a suggestion. Regardless of whether you practice Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or another religion, any God or deity you believe in can be your higher power.
  • You need to pray regularly: Many religions use prayer to connect with their deity or God. This can be helpful for religious AA members who feel that prayer allows their higher power to lead them through recovery. But prayer is only a suggestion. You don’t have to pray if you’re not religious. Instead, you can choose an activity where you can connect with the higher power you believe in.
  • You can skip Step 2 if you’re not religious: Every step to recovery is a suggestion, but you can’t skip Step 2 because you’re not religious. Accepting a power greater than yourself is an important stage of your recovery. It’s fine if your higher power isn’t God, but you should still find a higher power that works best for you.

Peer support groups not only help you connect with people going through similar situations as you but empower you to take accountability for your sobriety.6 AA has provided support to people recovering from alcohol addiction for over 85 years.5 Many studies emphasize the benefits of AA in achieving long-term recovery, like building healthy coping skills and increased self-efficacy.6

How to Find Help with Alcoholics Anonymous Step 2

If you’re ready to begin your journey to recovery and want to attend an AA meeting, there are hundreds available across the nation. Regardless of where you are in the U.S., you can always find a meeting to attend. You can search for local AA meetings online by visiting the AA website to find a meeting in your area.

Seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder is the first step in overcoming your addiction. Aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs like having a sponsor for support and serving your group are beneficial.6

If you’re looking for a safe, supportive space to connect with people on the same journey, you can locate inpatient and outpatient programs for alcohol addiction using our directory. To find out more about what your health insurance provider covers, reach out to us to instantly verify your insurance. Call .

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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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