Steps Two & Three: Finding Your Higher Power

Addiction isn’t a disease that develops overnight. The development of addiction to alcohol or drugs occurs as a result of cumulative factors, which often entails being predisposed to dependency due to biology, environment, or circumstance. In short, this is a progressive, chronic disease that develops due to factors both within and without one’s control. However, once the disease develops it requires lifelong effort and determination to remain sober.

Recovery is not completed like many other tasks in life. Instead, it’s a mindset or lifestyle that one adopts as a means of overcoming addiction and remaining sober. For this, finding a higher power for restoration and renewal is a key factor.

There are many tools essential to an individual’s recovery, each of which addresses specific symptoms or effects of addiction. Addiction treatment programs have afforded many individuals with the means of overcoming chemical dependency via counseling, psychotherapy, group and family sessions, and a number of complementary and supplemental treatments. Alternately, twelve-step programs—Alcoholics Anonymous and its numerous derivatives—offer individuals a blueprint or roadmap to recovery.

Each of the renowned Twelve Steps, which are meant to be followed in numerical order as a sequential progression toward physical and spiritual recovery, are essential and build upon the success of the previous step, constituting a cumulative process that ends with individuals having developed an acceptance of powerlessness to addiction, made amends to those wronged, developed a stronger relationship with the higher power of one’s understanding, and reached a point in recovery where one can begin to assist others through the twelve-step method.

Step Two: Belief in a Higher Power That Can Restore Sanity

After the First Step—in which one admits to being powerless to alcohol or drugs—individuals have taken the most basic step that will allow them to begin the recovery process. In other words, one has accepted the reality and severity of the problem and can begin to take steps to overcome dependency. The Second Step of the twelve-step method illustrates the central importance of spirituality in twelve-step recovery.

According to the first and primary publication for twelve-step recovery, individuals working the Second Step must come to believe “that a power greater than [oneself] can restore [him or her] to sanity.” A logical progression from the First Step’s acceptance of powerlessness, the Second Step entails an individual’s recognition that there is a power greater than him or her—which can be a deity such as the Abrahamic God, nature, or some other spiritual concept—that can help the individual in returning to a state of mind in which he or she isn’t subject to the compulsions of an addiction.

In a sense, the First Step could be considered a measure of one’s despair in the form of admission of defeat while the Second Step represents hope. For those who have been suffering from active addiction, one’s substance of choice has all the power over his or her life. 

However, in seeking sobriety through the twelve-step method individuals must first recognize the power that addiction has had over them and become aware that recovery entails drawing strength from an external source—the higher power of one’s understanding in the case of the Second Step—in order to achieve lasting sobriety. In other words, the individual comes to believe three things: There’s an external power greater than oneself, the reality of one’s insanity, and the ability of the external and greater power to take away that insanity.

Step Three: Turning Oneself Over to the Higher Power of One’s Understanding

In the words of twelve-step texts, the Third Step entails an individual’s making a conscious decision to “turn [one’s] will and [one’s] life over to the care of God as [he is understood].” Whereas the Second Step sees individuals acknowledging and believing in an external power that’s greater than oneself and can return individuals to a state of sanity and sobriety, the Third Step would be a natural and logical progression in that individuals must turn themselves over to the higher powers of their understanding. Again, this is a very individualized process and doesn’t refer to a singular deity as a higher power but rather to the object or concept of one’s belief in whatever form that may take.

It may seem as though there’s some religious or spiritual process behind turning oneself over to a higher power, but Alcoholics Anonymous literature describes it as being much more simple than that. Upon the moment of choosing to devote oneself to recovery by means of the twelve-step method, individuals have already made a partial movement toward the third step by turning themselves over to a process that they believe will allow them to heal physically and spiritually.

Similarly, turning oneself over to the higher power that can restore one’s sanity and sobriety requires only willingness and commitment. In the process, individuals realize that the higher power of their understandings will naturally want them to align themselves with the path of sobriety; therefore, Step Three means becoming willing to align oneself with the will of one’s higher power. At this point, it’s more so about acceptance, commitment, and willingness while more advanced steps will turn that willingness into action.

Why Faith & Spirituality are Central to Twelve-Step Recovery

Research has found that, although spirituality isn’t required in order to overcome alcohol and drug addiction, incorporating a spiritual component to one’s rehabilitation can increase one’s chance of lasting sobriety. It’s thought that spirituality can fortify recovery for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that spirituality and the more faith-oriented components of recovery—twelve-step programs, faith-based treatment programs, religious services, and so on—offer individuals a sort of buffer from the stress and anxiety individuals face in everyday life.

Those who ascribe to religion or spiritual belief often turn to their faiths during times of hardship. As such, incorporating spiritual practices into a treatment regimen will teach individuals to turn to their faith as a means of preventing relapse, which is to use belief in a familiar way.

Let Drug Treatment Center Finder Help You Find Your Way

There are many treatments and therapies available for individuals to overcome addiction. Between effective, evidence-based treatments and support groups like twelve-step programs, individuals in recovery can gain a number of tools and strategies that will allow them to sustain their sobriety for the long-term. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help individuals find the treatments and programs they need to return to lives of sobriety, health, and fulfillment. Don’t wait; call us today at 855-619-8070.

Staff Writer :