Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Read on to learn more about step 2 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program to help those struggling with alcoholism.

Recovering alcoholics often find that the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program helps lead to long-term sobriety. By implementing these steps in your life, you can also begin the recovery journey. Step 2 of AA will help you begin to focus on letting go of control and putting your problems and needs into the hands of a higher power. This article will cover step 2 of the AA program, thus helping you find peace of mind.

What Is Step 2 of AA?

While the first step of the AA program talks about admitting you were powerless over your drinking problem, the second step of AA is about recognizing a higher power that can help you with alcoholism. The exact wording for the second step AA is stated as:

“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

When considering this step, your mind might immediately think of God as that higher power. For some people, this could be an uncomfortable topic. Perhaps it’s been a long time since they thought about God, or maybe they don’t believe in a god. For others, the thought of God as a higher power that can help them is encouraging and comforting, however, everyone is different. Regardless, the second step is more about looking outside yourself for strength and help to overcome alcoholism.

Higher Power Definition

Some people may be overly concerned with the definition of a higher power. Some people like to have everything spelled out for them and understand the exact nature of issues. However, definitions are not that relevant when moving forward through the steps in the 12 step AA program.

As you become more familiar with the 12-step program and the second step of AA, you’ll realize that the program is more concerned with the “essence” of the meaning. For example, when you get to the second step, you can focus your attention on what a higher power can do for you regarding the alcohol issue. In other words, you will be concentrating on the positive results as opposed to asking yourself what or who the higher power is.

The main point of accessing a higher power is to get you to think about how, although you may be helpless in yourself to overcome drinking, you are not alone. You have help and strength outside of your own personal strength.

The main takeaway from this stage in recovery is that you can move forward in recovery with a foundation of open-mindedness, willingness, faith, trust, and humility.

Ways to Follow the Second Step of AA

No matter what step you are on in the 12-step program, it’s vital to have a plan to hold yourself accountable. People use varying methods and strategies to accomplish this goal. One effective way is to engage in self-reflection. You can do this by asking yourself a series of questions that probes the second of the 12 steps. Here are a few sample questions to get you started, but remember, you can personalize your own questions if you want.

  • Did you engage in negative and harmful behaviors when you were drinking or in the midst of your addiction?
  • What changes in your thinking and behavior are necessary for your restoration to sanity?
  • Are you harboring any fears about believing in something greater than yourself?
  • How can you let go of the fears about this or other things?
  • What does “believing in something” mean to you?
  • Do you relate to other recovering alcohol addicts’ experiences about how they came to believe?
  • Is there anything hindering you from accepting that there is a power/powers greater than yourself?
  • Have you witnessed a “higher power” at work in your life?
  • Do you have a closed mind when it comes to your recovery? If so, do you see the harm that it can do? If not, how is an open mind manifesting in your life?

Think About What Inspires You to Stay Sober

As you embark upon this step, you can take time to think about what inspires you to stay sober. People have different ways to keep inspired for their recovery efforts. For many people, faith is a big part of the inspiration to keep them sober. Some people look to God and religion as a motivation for long-term recovery. God is their higher power who helps them through the difficulties of the journey of sobriety.

Other people may not go to church or have that type of faith, so they find inspiration to quit drinking alcohol from other sources outside of themselves. They may look to family, like their parents or children, as a motivation for their journey. Some people might even find inspiration from a celebrity who has found success in quitting alcohol. Whatever your path is to sobriety, you can make it your own. Everyone is different in how they find the motivation and inspiration to seek a sober pathway.

Talk With AA Members and Sponsors

Whenever you are going through a difficult situation, it helps to have someone to talk to. Even if you think you don’t want to talk or aren’t good at it, you’ll likely feel a sense of relief after opening up. Talking things out is a good tonic for the soul. At AA meetings, you will have the opportunity to grow and learn with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who will walk beside you during your journey and someone to whom you can talk.1

If you’re religious, you will probably be doing a lot of talking to God too, and that can bring relief. For those individuals who aren’t religious, it’s up to them how they handle that. However, everyone gets a sponsor to help newcomers in managing the steps. Sponsors have been in your shoes before, meaning they, too, have battled alcohol addiction.1 They know what you are going through, so they will be a supportive shoulder on which to lean.

The sponsor isn’t the only person you’ll have to reach out to. You will be surrounded by other group members who are taking these steps alongside you. Some of them will have the same or similar beliefs as you do when it comes to a belief in a higher power. The other members will provide additional support for you as you discover just what this step means to you.

Have an Open Mind

Open-mindedness is a difficult thing to accomplish for some people. Some people may be so used to seeing things in one way that they can’t open their minds to a new way. Or, they could have what’s called “black and white” or “all or none” thinking. These types of thought patterns restrict a person from growth and seeing new ideas that could help them overcome issues. By purposing in your heart that you will open your mind to the journey and to learning new ideas, you expand your heart and your possibilities. As you come to accept that you are unable to control your alcohol consumption on your own, it can help you to lean more heavily on the second step in the 12-step program.

Getting Help With Step 2 of the 12-Steps

If you’re ready to accept help for alcoholism and want a support network to help with that process, find a support group close to you. You can begin the 12-step process and find happiness in long-term sobriety.

Next: Step 3

Previous: Step 1

[1]. Oxford Academic. (2009). Alcohol and Alcoholism.