Alcohol addiction is a complex disorder, and effective treatment involves the use of many interventions and services.1 One possible intervention is participation in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
AA can be a part of your comprehensive treatment plan, and participation in 12-Step programs can occur in a variety of settings such as inpatient/outpatient treatment and aftercare environments. AA is a group of people who come together to end their drinking problem; there are no fees or requirements to join other than having the goal to solve your alcohol problem.2
In this article, you will learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous with an emphasis on Step 7, including how to start it, how to work it, misunderstandings about it, and how to find help if you are struggling with Step 7 of AA.
What Is Alcoholics Anonymous Step 7?
Each one of the 12 Steps of AA builds upon the others. Step 7 states that we “humbly ask him to remove our shortcomings.”3 This step focuses on humility. More specifically, Step 7 references a “change in attitude”; this change in attitude is a shift from focusing on ourselves to focusing on others and on God.3 Humility, by definition, means a modest or low view of one’s importance. Humility can be thought of as a sense of humbleness.
Humility is a core element in all the 12 Steps of AA. Alcoholics Anonymous believes that the “attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of the 12 Steps and that without humility, it’s impossible to stay sober.”3 Humility is the cornerstone of Step 7 and is viewed as essential to developing a free spirit. More specifically, Step 7 states “to gain a vision of humility as the avenue to true freedom of the human spirit.”3
Step 7 postulates that it is not enough to just recognize humility as essential to our growth and sobriety; AA members should constantly work toward the point where humility becomes essential to their peace and serenity. This is evidenced by Step 7 which states that humility is the “nourishing ingredient which can give us serenity.”3 In previous steps, we asked our God, or higher power, to remove our shortcomings and looked to him to restore us to sanity.
Shortcomings refer to the character defects that stop us from achieving our objectives and that we are unable to resolve on our own due to shortsightedness or unworthy desires.3 Step 7 addresses our shortcomings with an emphasis on humility. Step 7 asks that we look to our higher power to eliminate our shortcomings, and we continue to work toward the removal of our own shortcomings by focusing inward.
How to Start, Work, and Follow Step 7
When you first start working on Step 7, accepting humility is the initial challenge. However, recognition and acceptance of humility is only the beginning of this step. As you work toward Step 7, you develop an understanding of the cruciality of humility in your recovery.
Humility is essential for your peace and spirit. During Step 7, you will begin to look inward and spend time reflecting on your deeper objectives.3 It is in this step that we come to the realization that we are making unrealistic demands on people, ourselves, and our higher power.3
The process of attaining greater humility may be challenging for many individuals as it may involve letting go of shortcomings such as ego, defense, blame, pride, and excuses. Attaining greater humility means allowing ourselves to experience and acknowledge the pain, as opposed to avoiding it through alcohol and other negative behaviors.3
In Step 7, we build our character through the experience of pain and suffering, and we grow to understand that it is humility by which we heal from the pain and suffering.3 Humility moves away from something we reluctantly accept and turns into something we see as our salvation–our salvation to recovery, healing, and transformation.
When we work on Step 7, we are doing so with the recognition that we will need to ask for help from our higher power to remove our shortcomings, some of which were mentioned above. When we open ourselves up to implementing mindfulness, practicing humility, and asking for help, we recognize that humility can be achieved not only through the experience of pain but also by reaching for it with the help of our higher power.3 Humility becomes essential to our healing, and instead of feeling forced to accept it, we end up striving for it voluntarily over time with the help of our higher power.
Myths and Misunderstandings about AA Step 7
Contrary to what you may believe, AA doesn’t affiliate with any religion, nor does it ask you to affiliate with a specific religion.2 Instead, AA encourages you to recognize a power that is greater than yourself; this power can be completely unique to you. AA uses the 12 traditions as spiritual guidance that can be utilized with whatever you identify as your higher power.2
Humility, as a definition and as a way of life, is difficult for some people to accept because it is largely misunderstood in society.3 Contrary to popular belief, humility doesn’t mean criticism or rejection of our achievements, material or otherwise.3 In Step 7 we acknowledge that by demanding more than our share of wealth, prestige, and security, we were unable to be satisfied during both our successes and the failures and so we turned to alcohol to help us cope.3 Therefore, Step 7 doesn’t ask that we condemn our achievements, it asks that we ask our higher power for humility and the ability to look inward for fulfillment.
There are many benefits of 12-Step and AA participation. Studies show that the benefits of AA participation include:4
- Improved overall health outcomes.
- An increase in self-efficacy and healthy coping skills.
Research continually demonstrates that participation in 12-Step support groups is highly beneficial, and benefits include:4
- Developing a support system of like-minded peers who share the same objectives.
- Developing the ability to manage life challenges and stress in a healthy way.
- Creating and strengthening healthy cognitions about the world around you, other people, and yourself.
- Improving self-confidence and self-efficacy.
- Maintaining long-term sobriety from alcohol and drugs.
Myths or misunderstandings about AA or any of its language shouldn’t stop you from getting the help you need.
How to Find Help with Alcoholics Anonymous Step 7
If you are thinking about starting alcohol treatment, don’t wait any longer. At American Addiction Centers (AAC), we understand that making the decision to end your addiction is hard and one of the most important decisions you can make for yourself. That’s why we offer comprehensive substance use disorder (SUD) treatment across the country that includes 12-Step support groups such as AA. If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) or any other SUD, you can benefit from treatment and 12-Step groups.
Current research on AA and 12-Step participation show that:5
- Abstinence rates for those who attended AA/12-Step program at 1 year and 18 months are almost twice as high as those who didn’t attend said programs.
- Longer lengths of abstinence from alcohol are associated with higher attendance in AA meetings.
Additionally, benefits of substance abuse treatment include:1
- Developing the necessary skills to stop using substances and maintain abstinence.
- Improving your overall functioning and productivity at school, at home, and at work.
- Strengthening your interpersonal relationships with family and friends.
- Learning relapse prevention skills to support abstinence.
- Modifying your beliefs and attitudes about drugs and alcohol.
AA meetings are available across the country, so if you are away from home or traveling, you can find a meeting close to you. You can locate meetings online. You can also call AAC and speak with an admissions navigator at . Our admissions navigators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and can help you verify your insurance and locate a treatment center near you.