Step 3: Twelve-Step Program

A note on language: At Renascent we help people recover from substance use addiction and integrate 12-Step facilitation into our programming. We recognize that the substances our clients are recovering from and the 12-Step groups they connect with may vary. Throughout our website you may see general terms relating to the 12 Steps as we are inclusive of all recovery programs, including AA, CA, and OA.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God/our Higher Power as we understood Him/Them.

Finding your way to recovery

It is challenging to acknowledge and accept that you are dealing with addiction. It is an undeniable aspect of your recovery journey. 

What is Step 3 in AA?

Step 3 supports you in your recovery journey by removing the stigma that surrounds addiction recovery and the control that it can have over your life. During this step, you move forward by acknowledging and surrendering the control that addiction has created in your life. With this step, you give way and allow a higher power to guide you along your path to recovery. 

Understand how addiction controls you

In the 12 Steps, Step 3 can carry a heavy weight because it is a step of action. It encourages you to acknowledge the control of alcohol addiction and the fact that you don’t have control. As part of this step, you are also asked to surrender yourself to a higher power. In other words, you are willing to relinquish the control that addiction has over you to a higher power that extends beyond yourself. Allowing you to start your path to recovery. 

Go at your own pace

As the first actionable step in the 12 Step recovery process, it’s important that you go at your own pace. 

No recovery journey is the same. The way you choose to navigate your path to recovery is up to you.

Being open to guidance is part of your recovery journey. However, sometimes people can find it difficult to accept guidance because it means that you are giving up control, and you may be in a place where you are needing or wanting control.  

Part of Step 3 is being open to guidance, and creating room for it. It is understandable why giving yourself to a higher power can be daunting, it’s part of change which can feel like the present and the future are unknown. But part of the change in this step means that you are moving forward. Remember, that while you are giving up the control that addiction has over your life, you still get to choose how you navigate through the 12 Step Principles. 

What is a “higher purpose?”

There is some hesitancy in Step 3 when it comes to giving control to a higher power. However, you decide who or what your “higher purpose”. What exactly is the definition of a “higher power” is up to you to define, making it a very personal decision for you to decide. 

There are a few misconceptions, or areas that are in need of clarity. Step 3 is about giving up control and handing it to a higher power. When you are asked to trust in a higher power there can be some confusion, what if you aren’t religious or spiritual? 

In this step, it is important to understand that it is not just about entrusting something else or someone else in your journey. Rather, it is an announcement of your commitment towards your recovery, acknowledging that yes, you are not in control over your addiction, and that you are opening yourself up for guidance. 

Do I have to believe in a “God”?

You don’t have to believe in God or any other religious, or spiritual deity to participate in Step 3. In fact, if you want to envision your own idea of a higher power you can. If the higher power you envision is something that you can trust, and lean on for support then you can use it.

Step 3 Prayer

If you are struggling to find trust in a higher power during times of uncertainty you can turn towards the Serenity Prayer or the AA Acceptance prayer. You can draw on the power of prayer and mantra as part of your healing, and as a support pillar to help you find strength. 

Why should I trust a higher power?

Being open to a higher power means that you can let go. 

Letting go isn’t easy, and can be filled with uncertainty. You might question, if you should trust higher power? Yes, because it means that you won’t have to go through your recovery journey alone. 

During your path to recovery, it’s important to understand what is most manageable for you. You can clearly outline areas of your life that are causing you hurt, pain or stress, and let them go to a higher power. 

Your recovery, your choices

Here at Renascent, we have worked with people who have experienced the same doubts or have had the same questions. All of which took their own journey to recovery. 

There are many out there who aren’t religious or spiritual and may think that they can’t participate in Step 3 but that isn’t the case. It’s up to you to decide how you want to go about your recovery journey but it’s important to take part in every step.  

Michael is a past client who defined what his higher power meant to him. Like many others, he expressed concern over the Christian representation of “God” as a higher power, he didn’t consider himself religious and had his own tribulations. Instead, he explored his Indigenous past, and entrusted his recovery to the Great Spirit. With counselors from Renascent, and his sponsor he was able to define, on his own terms and time, how believing in the Great Spirit would lead him into his recovery. 

You are not alone

A misconception that surrounds Step 3 is that because you are giving up control over your addiction it means that you are losing your independence. That is so far from the truth. By putting your trust in a higher power it means you can take a seat, and receive guided support. 

You are never alone. 

Step 3 in the 12 principles is one of the most important because it’s a step of action and requires commitment and strength to take it. With this step you should know that you are never alone because you are supported by a higher power.

How Renascent helps

Renascent deeply understands that unique individual journey that is necessary for you. We are here to support you and guide you to define what your recovery means to you. Your Road to Recovery starts here.

About the Authors

Renascent Staff
The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery – with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.