The 12 steps of recovery are 12 guiding principles used by those suffering from various types of addiction or behavioral problems to guide them through the recovery process. Understanding and implementing these principles, originating with Alcoholics Anonymous, is a gradual process of spiritual, not religious growth. With the support of others, the steps require an individual, over a period of time, to make an unflinching assessment of his faults, to give up control and to seek forgiveness.
The first of the 12 steps requires admitting one's powerlessness over his addiction or behavior, followed by acknowledging that only with the help of a higher power can he change this behavior. Someone working the steps is then asked to voice his willingness to turn his life over to this higher power, as he understands it.
The next step requires that he complete a soul-searching moral inventory of his strengths, weaknesses and wrongdoings and acknowledge his personal defects to himself, to his higher power, and to another human being. Steps five and six challenges him to admit that he needs the help of his higher power and then to actually ask his higher power to remove his defects.
Moving on through the steps, the person in recovery is next challenged to make a list of everyone he has previously harmed and to directly acknowledge his past actions and ask for forgiveness from each of these individuals. The final three steps include committing to continue inventorying and acknowledging one's wrongdoings, seeking the support of one's higher power, and carrying the message of the 12 steps to others.