Higher Power in Recovery: Personalizing the 12-Steps

Establishing a higher power in recovery is crucial to follow a 12-step program for many on their journey to long-term sobriety. Some debate exists on what this means for those feeling excluded from the 12-step community because they don’t identify with spiritual concepts. When considering this issue, it’s essential to recognize the 12-step recovery model attracts people for various reasons.

Some attend 12-step meetings voluntarily, preventatively, while in treatment, out of desperation for resources, or due to a court mandate. While listening, some find the sessions supportive and develop an invaluable sense of belonging. Additionally, after the Covid-19 pandemic, many 12-step meetings became virtual and accessible to people who would never physically “enter the rooms” of a 12-step model.

While a 12-step program can be tremendously helpful for many, some feel pressured to rely on or “surrender” to a higher power or external force to “truly” recover. In many cases, references to a higher power in 12-step meetings keep many from seeking help and hinder their recovery.

Some even label 12-step meetings as cult-like and avoid association, even if they urgently require addiction support and community. However, this free program can be transformative with perseverance for some. In many cases, relapse rates decrease when 12-step meetings complement clinical treatment, like Gatehouse.

This blog post will discuss how personalizing your higher power in recovery can help many to feel more comfortable attending meetings and recovering within a community. Personalization can illuminate your 12-step program and, ultimately, lead to a better outcome.

What IS a Higher Power in 12-Step Recovery?

The 12-step recovery model welcomes people of all beliefs and walks of life. Yet, it gently encourages those seeking lasting sobriety to “establish a higher power of their understanding.” You can interpret a higher power in many ways. The tone of meetings will be slightly different based on region, demographic, and meeting type, with the focus shifting at times. However, program unity is strongly encouraged.

Generally, those attending meetings are encouraged to use terminology that doesn’t specify their higher power of choice and refrain from sharing what might be deemed “testimony.” Although, this can’t be guaranteed and does sometimes occur.

How Can You Establish a Higher Power?

Through an abstract conception of a higher power, individuals incorporating the 12 steps into their recovery journey are encouraged to open themselves up to receive support from something greater than themselves. A belief in something all-encompassing helps some develop self-discovery and awareness they may have masked before with substances. This new understanding of the self can lead to discovering the root of one’s addictive nature.

When it comes to finding a higher power in recovery, there are many ways that people conceptualize and personalize this aspect of attending 12-Step meetings. Some individuals access comfort from the spiritual ideology presented by the 12 steps. For others, the idea of a god is triggering, or they can’t relate. It is possible to abstain from spirituality and actively participate in the 12-step recovery.

What Are Examples of Personalized Higher Powers?

Some people may find comfort in traditional religious concepts of higher power like “God, the father.” In contrast, others may benefit from exploring alternative spiritual approaches like meditation and mindfulness or movement practices like yoga. Other individuals seek a higher power within themselves through personal development goals and enlightenment.

In the 12-step model, spirituality or a higher power may also take the form of other values that do not involve any religious or spiritual connotation. These may include values and ethics like integrity, honesty, and vulnerability. In some cases, some in recovery have even considered their treasured pets their “higher power” and a significant reason why they abstain from substance use.

Other examples of a higher power in recovery may be an individual’s relationship with a supportive loved one or friend. Some recover through a spiritual connection with nature or a cosmic fascination. Higher power can also be art, music, or studying scripture. Ultimately, there is no “wrong” or “right” way to engage with or personalize your higher power.

Despite which higher power a person gravitates towards, the 12-step recovery model is instrumental to many. It promotes healing that helps individuals find a newfound spiritual connection tailored to their unique beliefs and needs.

Why Is Establishing a Higher Power Tricky for Some?

Generally, the concept of a higher power in recovery can be overwhelming, especially to the newcomer. Many individuals who turn to substances or live in active addiction experience chronic emptiness or pervasively feel alone. Many have reservations about trusting anything, even an undefined higher power.

Additionally, some addiction experts believe that believing in a higher power can replace addiction, which can be problematic. Many don’t recognize that believing in or being religious is not a requirement of 12-step membership or that it is possible to reframe the steps in a way that works best for them.

How Can You Personalize the 12 Steps?

When working on a 12-step program, personalizing your approach is essential to making the principles accessible and relatable. Working with a sponsor (which is encouraged) can help make tailoring the experience more accessible. Personalization not only allows individuals to create a version of recovery that works best for them, but it also helps to make attending meetings a more positive experience.

Additionally, actively participating in the program and working the steps becomes more comfortable and less intimidating with time and relationship building. Personalizing a higher power in recovery by integrating the 12 steps helps many to feel more connected or “plugged into” their sobriety.

Finding a meaningful version of a higher power in recovery that works for you is essential to finding hope and healing during recovery through the 12 steps. Although exploring this concept can be difficult, it is crucial to remember that many resources are available to support individuals in conceptualizing a higher power.

Where Can I Learn More About a Higher Power and the 12 Steps?

While finding a higher power in recovery can be profound for some, it is not a requirement. It’s essential to recognize that recovery is an individualized process you ultimately undertake through understanding yourself. To explore this concept of a higher power and the 12 steps further, click this resource to find meetings near you.

When Should I Seek Help?

Choosing to seek help is an essential step towards healing, no matter what version of recovery you desire. When things get tough, which they inevitably will at times, know that you are not alone, and support is always available.

With the right resources and approach, sobriety is possible for everyone suffering from addiction. Even chronic users with established histories of heavy dependency go on to recover and live happy sober lives. It is never too late to take the first step toward sobriety.

What Are My Options for Recovery from Addiction?

Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous provide guidance and a supportive community for those seeking sobriety. In addition, psychotherapy and counseling can help individuals identify a suitable approach to recovery, which may or may not include spirituality. Additionally, many benefit from the inclusion of clinical treatment while attending meetings. The structure, accountability, and individualized attention a treatment center like GateHouse can provide can bring healing to new levels.

GateHouse Treatment Supports Your Sobriety Goals

GateHouse Treatment Center provides compassionate support and guidance for individuals of all paths seeking sobriety. Our team of experienced addiction professionals works tirelessly to help clients find hope and optimism in recovery. We understand the journey can be challenging. Yet, we’ve watched sobriety change the lives of many who have entered treatment with us.

We offer evidence-based treatments for addiction recovery like:

Additionally, we offer options like gender-specific treatment

At GateHouse Treatment, we are devoted to helping our clients develop the skills and resources to stay sober and live incredible lives. Our multi-disciplinary approach understands that the traditional steps are helpful for many. With this understanding, we include a 12-steps meeting as a comprehensive option for an individual’s recovery plan.

Reach out for help today and find the peace you truly deserve.

Call (855) 448-3588 or contact us here.

Brittany Marie

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