Fri. May 20th, 2022

Recovery Without AA: Using the 12 Steps in My Own Way

Recovery Without AA Leaves Room for Some 12-Step Tenets

Steps 8, 9 and 10–Making Amends

I absolutely made amends to those I could. I am mindful of my words and actions now. I apologize when I have said hurtful things, try to learn from my mistakes, and move forward in hope of creating better relationships. A goal of mine is to live an authentic life, and that includes being accountable for all of my words and actions. I don’t individually practice these steps, but I do in my own way practice accountability for actions and words, and make amends and changes where needed.

Step 12

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

I do this every day. I created the Voice in Recovery blog, tweet, and share my story. I give back to others on a daily basis to give hope, share inspiration, and de-stigmatize addiction so people do not feel they need to struggle alone. I mentor one on one, and daily reach out to those who need support and resources. I feel my work with ViR and this blog are how I give back to the community.

Recovery Without AA Allows for Flexibility in Other 12-Step Ideas


I personally do not have a sponsor, but that doesn’t mean I am accountable to no one. In my recovery without AA, I remain brutally honest with my partner, my family, my mentors, and people I mentor. I have many people in my life, and I go to different people based on my needs.

Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

I didn’t like the idea of being powerless, and thought in early sobriety that Step 1 asked me to admit I was powerless in life, and there was too much evidence against that idea. My life, unmanageable as it felt from the inside, continued forward for all I or anyone looking in could see. It took me two years of sobriety to understand and come to terms with never being able to be a social drinker, and no matter how much I thought I could risk it, I had too much to lose if I went back to using.

Step 3

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

Well I didn’t view “turning my life over” as something I could turn over to God, or a supreme being. I struggle with religion and consider myself spiritual or agnostic. To me, step 3 was about letting go. Letting go of control, of thinking I knew the right way, what to do, etc. It became about something greater in that I wanted to be able to say

I don’t know everything, what am I doing isn’t working, and I am willing to accept help or guidance.

I did the 3rd step on the beach and considered nature and the universe to be what I released my life into. I continue practicing letting go, and have a tattoo that says let go as a reminder that when I am clinging too hard onto something, or trying to control something, I need to let go. And I also say the serenity prayer and practice mindfulness based on this lesson of letting go.

Creating My Own Recovery Without AA

I have nothing against AA or the steps. I think they are wonderful tools and recommend them to anyone trying to get sober or trying to stay sober. I respect the principles, ideas, sense of community and accountability recovery with AA offers. But I took the pieces from the steps that work for me and apply them to my recovery without AA, while also accepting and using alternate ideas, practices, and theories.

I like to be open minded because I never know what my needs are going to be, and one day I may need accountability, the next I may need to focus on letting go of control, or meditation, yoga, CBT, DBT, SMART Recovery and other skills, so flexibility is a great asset to me. Every tool I learn helps strengthen my recovery.

I guess my recovery just doesn’t fit in a box. I incorporate a lot of things, including the 12 steps, and enjoy reading about Buddhism and the 12-steps, which is interesting and rewarding. I don’t follow a script and took many different paths that helped me stay sober.


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