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The Twelve Steps and Reflections

The Twelve Steps of Recovery provide the pathway to serenity and peace of mind. Following each Step are personal statements written by Gam-Anon members.

1. We admitted we were powerless over the gambling problem and that our lives had become unmanageable.
“Learning that I was powerless over another’s addiction did not mean that I was powerless as a human being. Quite the contrary, I was now free to focus my efforts on being strong for me and developing a relationship with the outside world from which I had felt isolated.”
“The most powerless time of my life was actually those years living with an active compulsive gambler and thinking I should be able to control his addiction. Step One helped me gain true personal power by letting go of this irrational thinking.”

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.
“I have never been a spiritual person, the “the room” became my Higher Power. Attending meetings and listening to others started me on the path to inner peace. My dysfunctional relationship with a compulsive gambler left me with no idea what a normal way of thinking and living was. I needed the help of my Gam-Anon brothers and sisters to define that for myself.”
“As I opened my heart and mind to a power greater then myself, I began to feel hopeful that my life could improve.”

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.
“I used to worry about everything. I was so anxious. As I have gained faith in my Higher Power, I have begun to take care of myself and to stop trying to manipulate the gambler in an effort to control what happens. I have let go of outcomes that I have no control over.”
“I must ask myself this question: what do I have faith in?”

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
“For me, the Fourth Step was the beginning of learning about myself. Before that, I had no language for the things that I was feeling. I just stuffed it all down. Now I can name what is going on inside of me. I love the clarity.”
“I began doing Step Four searching for my negative qualities, the things that kept me stuck in such a bad place. I was surprised and grateful to also recognize that I had good qualities. This recognition gave me a much needed boost to my confidence.”

5. Admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
“I had such pain and it festered inside of me. Nobody could understand. Everyone jumped in with opinions and solutions. So I stopped telling people and kept it all in. When I did Step Five, I finally felt that I was being heard.”
“Sometimes my mere unexpected utterance as I speak at a meeting is just what I need in order to hear my inner self.”

6. Were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
“As I began noticing my defects of character, I started asking myself, “Can I live better without this unhealthy action or feeling?” And…”Am I ready and willing to let go of it?” Just because I was willing did not mean that was the end of it. But each time it reappeared, I reflected on my willingness to be rid of it. I knew that eventually as I moved on to Step Seven I would see the demise of it.”
“My school motto was “Let each become all he is capable of being.” It has been a long time since I attended that school, but I am finally ready to accept that challenge.”

7. Humbly asked God, of our understanding, to remove our shortcomings.
“Step Seven always eluded me despite my many years in Gam-Anon. But the day came - that most unexpected day - when I wept, humbled, and uttered aloud ( referring to an obsessive debilitating thought ) to the universe, “Please take this from me. I can’t do it anymore.” And miraculously, it was lifted! It is not important how this happened but only that it did happen. Today Step Seven is an integral part of my life.”
“When I invoke my Higher Power, I humbly acknowledge that I am just human and have limited capabilities. Step Seven reminds me that I am not expected to work alone in my efforts to change.”

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
“I harmed myself by making choices that countered my values and beliefs. Forgiving myself for bad choices was the hardest work I ever did. No one put a gun to my head to force my choices. I was solely responsible for the choices that wrecked my life.”
“How willing am I to risk opening up to another human being, someone whom I have harmed and this same someone who has also harmed me? I came to the conclusion this is about my serenity and peace of mind. The only risk I take is not doing it.”

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
“I had no idea how to make a particular amend. The thought of it was unsettling: What would I say? How would the other person react? I thought, the only thing I can do is approach that amend with absolute sincerity. The rest would take care of itself. It was easier than I imagined, and very rewarding.”
“I yearned for many years to make amends to my children for the way, in my frustration at the gambler, I took it all out on them. I waited for the right moment. Amidst tears and hugs, when it was finally appropriate, I admitted my failures to them. What a cleansing experience that was!”

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
“I believe that who I was ( with my defects ) when I came to Program is buried deep inside me. Under the right circumstances, “she” will emerge again and cause me the same heartache. I am aware of what I must do to keep “her” buried.”
“There are certain techniques I have found that help me simplify my life. The three A’s - Awareness, Assessment, and Action - are a recipe that allow me to feel comfortable while working on a personal problem whether it is an interpersonal conflict, a health problem or one of life’s unexpected challenges”.

11. 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.
“I am not sure what my belief in a Higher Power is. But this I know…when I pray
for strength and serenity, I am blessed with strength and serenity.”
“When I was first introduced to Step Eleven I thought, this should not be a difficult Step for me. I have years of religious training behind me. After twelve years of parochial school and a belief in God, I have this. Wrong!! What I didn’t have was a sense of spirituality. I was missing the one-on-one relationship with my personal Higher Power. Step Eleven opened the door that allowed me to reach into a deep part of myself that I really didn’t know existed. I am grateful today for discovering my true spiritual self.”

12. Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to others.
“I did not find a connection to all Twelve Steps in sequence. I first loved the Steps and focused on finding out what was wrong with me, and working to change all that.
(Four, Five, Six). I also found purpose in Steps One through Three relative to the program being my Higher Power. In the last few years it is the spirituality of Steps Seven and Eleven that calls to me. For now, my wants are clearly for Serenity and Spirituality. And so the whole package now fills me. For this profound gift, I am grateful.”
“I show an interest in my fellow Gam-Anons because I really care. They are me. My life has become so wonderful, and only because of the Program. I feel that it is my duty to pass it on, and nothing makes me feel better than sharing this gift that I have received.”

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been reprinted and adapted by Gam-Anon with the permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and Gam-Anon are not affiliated.