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Explaining the 11th Step of AA’s 12-Step Program

a woman finds comfort in the 11th step of AA

The 11th step of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step program says this: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.“ AA is careful to indicate that while the program leans into spirituality, it is non-religious in nature. The program instead points participants to an abstract higher power. Nonetheless, the spiritual aspect of the 11th step often poses the most challenges to people as they look to complete the 12 steps.

Find out more about Rockland Recovery’s alcohol addiction treatment program when you contact 855.732.4842.

What Is the 11th Step In AA?

The 11th step of AA points people to a higher power through prayer and meditation. Again, AA is careful not to align itself with any religion. All people, no matter their spiritual background, tradition, or upbringing, can connect to the 12 steps and build their recovery through them. At the same time, many people struggle with spirituality for valid reasons. They may have been hurt by organized religion in the past or else simply lean heavily into a secular worldview that leaves little space for spirituality.

People who complete the 12 steps of AA are quick to note the importance of the 11th step. Discovering a higher power, whether they call it “God” or something else, is a vital component of their recovery journey. Recognizing the role of something greater than yourself can be transformational in any context, but particularly so when progressing through the phases of recovery from addiction or drug abuse.

Why the 11th Step Is Important

The 11th step is connected to the serenity principle. This principle states, “Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in this world by mistake.” Making space for that belief to pervade the recovery process can be incredibly healing for people. Leaning into that belief can unlock possibilities that were previously blocked off during 12-step programming.

The 11th step is important for everyone in recovery, including atheists and agnostics, who usually eschew spirituality. While it calls for prayer and meditation, that doesn’t mean those practices must be done in traditionally religious ways. For some people, engaging in prayer and meditation simply means sitting quietly, being still, taking time to reflect, and listening to thoughts as they come and go.

Step 11 asks people to connect to a higher power, which could boil down to introspection and self-reflection. That can mean connecting to “God,” or it could just mean finding your innermost being.

Completing the 11th Step of AA

The 12-step program is most effective when all 12 steps are completed in order. So how can you keep the 11th step from becoming a roadblock just as you approach the final leg of the journey? A few ways to tackle the 11th step of AA are:

  • Choose the type and style of meditative or spiritual practice you will devote time to
  • Focus on the objective of connecting to a higher power without preconceived notions of how society typically views that
  • Explore your chosen practice in meaningful, habitual ways
  • Let go of beliefs that hold you back from engaging in spiritual reflection

How you choose to reflect and engage your spiritual side is entirely up to you. Some people will inevitably bring pain, baggage, and trauma to step 11. But prior experiences need not dictate how you approach or navigate the 11th step. Seek inner peace through self-reflection.

Engaging the 12 Steps at Rockland Recovery

Rockland Recovery regularly incorporates 12-step programming into individualized addiction treatment plans. It is a powerful tool in addiction recovery because of how it connects people to support, mentorship, and community.

Discover more about how the 12 steps fit into a comprehensive addiction treatment plan by calling 855.732.4842.

Medical Reviewer Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Medically Reviewed by Kate Perfetti, LADC II

Kate is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has worked in the field of substance abuse for the last nine years. At Rockland Recovery, Kate works to provide resources to the local community and engage and progress Rockland Recovery’s alumni program.

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