The spiritual principles of recovery are a guide to fulfillment and strength in recovery that correspond to the original 12 steps of 12 step recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Gambler’s Anonymous, and so on. These principles are laid out as a path for those looking to gain spiritual growth and personal betterment as they navigate through addiction recovery. Addiction recovery in a 12 step recovery program requires honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. The recovery process, as told by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, is an ongoing way of life because addiction is a disease that does not have a cure.
According to 12 step programs, the way to manage your addiction as a disease is to follow the guidelines and wisdom passed down by other alcoholics and addicts who successfully maintain their sobriety. Above all, the 12 steps of AA believe that if you emulate the determination, consistency, and unyielding dedication of those who succeeded before you in the 12 Step Model, you will be successful in recovery just like them.
What are the 12 Spiritual Principles?
Spiritual principles of recovery are governing principles to heal us from the inside out, teaching us the importance of things like having patience and gratitude. People in recovery can practice these principles with ease, as they often need to remind themselves that their purpose as addicts and alcoholics is not just staying away from drugs and alcohol, but bettering themselves.
Using the 12 spiritual principles of recovery and following the 12 steps and guidance from other alcoholics or addicts who have succeeded in establishing and maintaining a sober lifestyle is the path to recovery.
The 12 spiritual principles of recovery are as follows: acceptance, hope, faith, courage, honesty, patience, humility, willingness, brotherly love, integrity, self-discipline, and service.
Below are the spiritual principles of recovery, listed in order with the corresponding step:
- Step 1: Acceptance
- The 2nd Step: Hope
- The 3rd Step: Faith
- Step 4: Courage
- Step 5: Honesty
- The 6th Step: Patience
- Step 7: Humility
- Step 8: Willingness
- The 9th Step: Brotherly Love
- Step 10: Integrity
- Step 11: Self-discipline
- The 12th Step: Service
As people work through the 12 Steps, they are meant to apply each principle, taking the time to reflect on the meaning behind the practice and how it can better their life in recovery. Additionally, 12 step support groups often participate in mantras, or prayers, that align their goals and aspirations in sobriety and assist them in coping with the stressors of daily life.
Practicing the Spiritual Principles of the 12 Steps
Regardless of whether you subscribe to a monotheistic religion like Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, or you take part in a non-theistic religion like Buddhism and Taoism, spirituality is a vital part of your recovery experience. The same goes if people who fall into an agnostic or atheistic line of thinking.
That being said, most individuals have a difficult time prioritizing their spiritual health and their attention easily strays away from spiritual maintenance as life’s distractions preoccupy their time.
In case you are struggling with your spiritual well-being, here are 12 ways you can practice the spiritual principles of recovery every day:
Acceptance in Recovery
Multiple times throughout the day, things may not go as planned. Practice acceptance when you’ve just missed the bus for work, or when they run out of coffee in the office. Acceptance is by far one of the most useful principles to practice.
Hope for Change
Hope can lend itself to you in any time of need, distress, or unhappiness. Sit down for a couple of minutes quietly, and express your hope that things will work out how they should. If things don’t work out, have hope that you will be okay either way.
Faith in a Higher Power
Practicing faith can look like praying, meditating, speaking to your higher power, etc. Putting hope into a power greater than yourself is faith.
Courage to Keep Going
Be courageous by standing up for what you believe in today, whether that be setting a boundary or telling your boss about an idea you have. Practicing courage can be scary, but it is also rewarding.
Honesty in Relationships
Practicing honesty is pretty straightforward. Practice honesty today by not lying, covering up the truth, without sugar-coating or leaving anything out. Did you show up to work five minutes late? Admit it. Do you really like your friend’s outfit? Tell them the truth. Honestly, honesty is easier the longer you practice it.
Patience for Others
Instead of honking your horn at the car in front of you; take a deep, deep breath and exhale. Practice patience.
Humility in place of Stubbornness
Instead of arguing about how you’re right (even when you know you’re wrong), practice humility by apologizing for your wrongs. It can feel like a defeat, but afterward, you will feel good about yourself and how you treat others.
Willingness to Change
Practice willingness by saying yes to that after-work yoga class with your co-worker. Oftentimes, we are quick to say that we want something— but we are unwilling to make changes to receive that thing. Practice willingness by showing that you will do something for positive results!
Brotherly Love for Strangers
Practicing brotherly love can be as easy as helping your neighbor carry the grocery bags. Practice brotherly love by doing anything from holding the door for someone, to supporting someone in need.
Integrity in Life
Integrity is honesty with a strong set of morals. Practice integrity by not compromising your values in any situation today. Did the cashier accidentally give you $10 extra? Practice integrity by saying something. Is your co-worker asking you to take an extra 20 minutes on your lunch break? Say no, because you should only be making decisions that fit within your personal values.
Self-discipline as Relapse Prevention
Practice self-discipline by being a good person when no one is looking. Did you have a long day at work, and want to cancel plans with sober support so that you can veg out on the couch for the night? Have the discipline to do what’s right for you and your recovery despite what you feel like doing. Do you have the opportunity to be lazy at work because your boss is gone for the day? Practice self-discipline by doing the work despite who is there to oversee you.
Service to Give Back
Service is one of the spiritual principles of recovery that many people in recovery cite as the principle that keeps them sober. You can practice service by talking to someone who is struggling, helping your old neighborhood sort through their pictures, or offering advice to someone that is having a hard time.
Practicing service in AA or NA can be accomplished by setting up the chairs for a meeting, making the coffee, or helping to clean up. You can also go old school and do community service to show your gratitude for the town you live in. Service opportunities are everywhere!
Finding Spiritual Growth in 12-Step Programs
There are many spiritual principles of recovery, and they all promote being someone of integrity, among other things. These spiritual principles correspond to each of the 12 steps of AA and NA, and programs that utilize the 12 step model ask you to practice these principles in all of your affairs. In doing so, the spiritual principles help you not only stay away from alcohol or drugs but to become a better person.
A large part of recovery is personal growth. Working a 12 step program of recovery can assist in this growth! Becoming a better person starts with self-awareness. Self-awareness starts by reminding yourself of the goals you wish to achieve and the person you want to be. So, as we practice these spiritual principles, we transition into the best versions of ourselves as a result.
Therefore, when we follow the 12 step model and carry the messages of wellness that have helped other alcoholics maintain their sobriety, we too will maintain our sobriety. In fact, the last step speaks to having a spiritual awakening!
Healing Your Spirit at Royal Life Centers
Substance use disorder can be progressive but can be treated with a holistic approach that treats the mind, body, and spirit. Similarly, addiction treatment at Royal Life Centers involves a wide range of treatment programs that guide our guests through programs that focus on whole-body healing. For example, we teach guests how to practice spiritual principles, care for their mental health, and participate in support groups.
Moreover, living your life guided by the spiritual principles of recovery is encouraged in all of our treatment options at Royal Life Centers. In fact, our intensive therapy is combined with an introduction to the 12 step model of recovery to assist you in your journey toward spiritual growth and overall wellness in recovery.
For any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our addiction specialists at (877)-RECOVERY. Our team makes themselves available to take your calls 24/7. Because We Care.