What is the Second Step of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The second step is when the spiritual part of Alcoholics Anonymous begins. It says “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity”. Many people have mixed feelings or even anger when it is implied that belief in God is necessary for sobriety. This ambivalence can stand in the way of sobriety. AA suggests that you need only have a higher power, whether you choose to call that power God is up to you. Many of the tougher sponsors (mentors) will suggest that you weren’t doing a very good job without a higher power so why not try it a different way.

Alcoholics Anonymous suggests you can make an inanimate object or even the members of the group a higher power. The important thing to remember is that you only need to believe that there is something greater than you are that knows more about addiction and recovery than you do. There is something that has an answer to your problem. The word higher means that there is something more capable than you and the word power suggests that something has more ability than you do.

Since alcoholism was declared to be a disease like cancer or heart problems, there arises the question about whether an alcoholic can choose to get sober or not. Or does the disease take the choice away. There is no answer as yet to that question. In the case of this step, the alcoholic does have to understand that the higher power can restore him to sanity not that it will. We have to believe it will and do the work to make it happen.

The other part of this step talks about the insanity of the disease. Certainly, if an alcoholic is honest with himself, he has to admit that his behavior has been insane. There is a joke about a man who walks through a door and gets hit with a piece of wood. He does this time and time again even though the same thing happens every time he does it. Meanwhile another man walks through the door, gets hit and never goes through the door again. The final time the first man starts to walk through the door and he doesn’t get hit he decides to stand there and wait for the hit. How different is this joke from a man (or woman) who keeps taking that first drink even though he gets in trouble every time he does it? It is repeating the same behavior expecting different results-Insanity! A great many people who come to Alcoholics Anonymous not believing in a higher power, eventually start calling that power God because of the amazing way their life changes!

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