Getting Sober / Staying Sober

12 step program

The Serenity Prayer

Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step organizations use several different readings and sayings that help members.

Some of these sayings are best known at meetings, others in the literature.

Perhaps the best-known of these is a prayer, commonly referred to as the serenity prayer. It may be one of the first things someone learns in rehab

There is a full version of the prayer, but AA tends to use a shortened version of it that reads as follows.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer is sometimes used at the beginning of meetings and sometimes used to close meetings at the end.

Also, it has become a common prayer that many people use in times of difficulty. It is particularly easy prey for people to remember and get used to.

Like any prayer, its meaning depends to a large extent depends upon the person who is using it.

Their interpretation of what it says to them and how it makes them feel is important. Any prayer should in effect make the person think, what is this saying to me about me.

For many people in AA, the serenity prayer can be a bit of a mantra.

People are often advised simply to repeat it over and over again.

This can be done when people are new, or at any time in their recovery. The simplicity of the prayer and the fact that it is regularly used at meetings makes it much more accessible for many people.


There are three basic elements to the structure of the prayer. People find these different and helpful.

The first element is about asking for acceptance of things that you cannot change. This is acknowledging some degree of powerlessness over events outside your control.

The second element is about asking for the power to change the things that you can control, and the third element is asking for help in knowing the difference between the two.

The value of the structure is that it embodies one of the most important principles in AA recovery. Acknowledging the difference between the things you can change, and the things you cannot is not simply a matter of semantics.

It is about reinforcing your real sense of power and control over your own life.

This is done by focusing energies on things that are within your control, and not outside of it.

This is particularly important for members of AA. Many of them have grown up in what is known as an alcoholic home. One of the key effects of growing up in such a home is that you reverse this whole principle.

Most alcoholics have a strong sense of feeling responsible for things that are outside of their control and at the same time little control over their own lives.

This is one factor in their understanding of their alcoholism. For many active alcoholics, alcohol seems to give them this sense of control. Although it is an illusion, it is often preferable to their reality.

The serenity prayer is not the main way that people tend to change or reverse this sense of responsibility. That is a much longer process and simply saying a prayer.

In many ways, the whole nature of 12 step recovery is about this process. The value of the serenity prayer is that it embodies this process in a few simple words.

It can be used as a stop-gap and a very important way to buy yourself some time.



‘A recovery home in Marquette is committed to give women suffering from drug addiction a safe place to stay. Within the past two years, Sue B’s House has officially become a successful program in helping women help themselves.

“Do you know in a phoenix and mythology, how they burn and then rise from their ashes? They’re very closely related with recovery,” said Elissa Kent, Assistant Director for the Great Lakes Recovery Center.

Life is full of second chances, and for women who struggle with drug addiction, mental health issues, and other related struggles; Sue B’s House is the beginning to their redemption story.

“Women will come out of residential treatment after they’ve completed maybe say 30 days of treatment,” Kent said. “They will come over here if they don’t have a safe recovery oriented place to live.”‘

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When someone is looking for a rehab that is 12-step orientated, what they are normally looking for is a rehab that bases part of its treatment recovery program on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Many rehabs that effectively advertise themselves as being 12 step rehabs do not actually follow the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, but do use a certain number of the steps, although the way they are interpreted by the rehab is normally quite different to the way they are interpreted by the book Alcoholics Anonymous.

A rehab is likely to either offer what it refers to as the first five steps in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, or possibly the first three steps in this program.

There are some rehabs that describe themselves as step one rehabs, and these rehabs effectively use the concept of step one in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program as the focus for their addiction treatment work, which is likely to focus on the basics of the AA recovery approach.

There are also a significant number of people who look to a rehab that is not  12-step based. The approach that many rehabs will take is to offer a number of principles that they consider helpful, which may include different types of therapy, group and individual, as well as a number of what are referred to as alternative therapies.

These types of alternative therapies can include areas such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, art therapy, horse therapy etc.


These rehabs can certainly help people, the problem tends to be around proving the clinical effectiveness of the work they offer, which is harder to do than those rehabs that are 12-step focused, which also tend to include inclusion of current medical thinking and practice concerning addiction.

Rehab that are 12 step focused will also include a heavy commitment that clients or participants in the treatment center program attend meetings of torso fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

There is normally a requirement that people tend a minimum number of meetings a week.

This is viewed as an important part of their recovery process whilst in treatment, and a hope that it will encourage people to attend meetings and become part of  alcoholics anonymous once they leave rehab, as a major part of their after-care program.

Some rehabs also offer their own after-care program, offering ongoing support online, and with often an annual get-together at the rehab for any previous participants who are interested in attending.


12 step program

Many people are familiar with the term 12 step program, but its implications and it applications have risen considerably over the last few years in the context of people using a 12 step program to recover from alcoholism and drug addiction.

In its most basic sense a 12 step program refers to the program of recovery outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which details the experience of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous with regard to the various elements of the process they took that help them get sober and stay sober.

The 12 step program of recovery outlines 12 basic elements of this process, and the book presents clear and detailed instructions as to how to do this.

The book Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step program of recovery outlined in it became a template for other 12 step fellowships that developed on the back of it, and use the essence of the program as a basis for their own program of recovery.

12 step program

The 12 step program initiated by Alcoholics Anonymous has in effect allowed any other individual or organisation to come to terms with and get a better from any type of addiction or problem that they themselves are unable to deal with.

The first step of the program refers to alcohol in the context of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and any other organisations or individuals can use the same principles and merely substitute whatever their problem is the word alcohol in the first step.

The actual 12-step program itself is copyrighted to Alcoholics Anonymous, but any individual can use the principles of the wording of the principles for their own benefit they so wish.

The 12 step program has also been widely adapted by a large sum of rehabs and treatment centers, and often forms a basis of their own addiction treatment programs.

Many rehabs use the first five steps of the program to help people in recovery for the first 28 days or so whilst they are in rehab. It is worth pointing out that the actual work done within the context of the 12 step program is normally quite different in a rehab to the experience outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.

Where it is similar and also confusing is that a rehab ortreatment center often use the term step one, step two etc and also the actual wording of the step. The work done to understand and implement the step in an individual’s life will normally be different in a rehab to the process outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous.


Rehab/Florida – Twelve Step Programs?

The other thing to consider about a rehab in Florida is what it offers by way of help or clinical programs that are designed to treat the addiction or alcoholism that they identify as being problem.

The type and range of programs at a rehab offers us vary considerably. Many are what as known as 12 step rehabs. They do not have any formal connection to 12 step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, but are very sympathetic to their programs and use much of their material in their own therapeutic work.

In addition a 12 step rehab will either encourage or insist that clients attend a number of AA/NA meetings during their time in treatment. These AA/NA meetings will either be in the local community, or maybe held on site, although they will be completely independent of the rehab if that is the case. Clients will also be encouraged to attend AA/NA once they have left rehab as part of their ongoing journey in recovery.

A rehab also offer different types of therapy on a daily basis for clients. This may be what is thought of as traditional one-to-one therapy or group therapy.

There may be therapy that is based around what are known as first five steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, although the link is fairly tenuous most of the time. A rehab may well offer other types of specific therapy such as CBT/EMDR or hypnotherapy.

A rehab in Florida may also offer what would be called alternative types of therapy which can range from pet or equine therapy, to music or dance therapy to yoga/tai chi/ shiatsu etc.

Some rehabs will also offer more challenging types of adventure based therapies such as rock climbing through to wilderness/trails hiking etc.

Some of these can sound very attractive, but should be viewed in context that the primary focus of a rehab should be the therapeutic work that addresses the underlying emotional drives and distortions of an alcoholic.

It is also very important to check that all the staff, clinical, admin and all therapies or practitioners are fully qualified and trained in the work that they are proposing to undertake.

Rehab in Florida – After-care and Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

It is an important part of the process when choosing and entering a rehab to have some awareness of how the rehab discharges clients and helps them make the transition back into their lives afterwards.

The time spent in a rehab in Florida can be a very intense experience, and what happens afterwards can have a significant impact on a person’s recovery.

Many rehabs offer weekly or monthly alumni meetings, either in person or online or both. A rehab will often encourage clients to follow through with Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and use the full experience of these fellowships to help them stay sober and clean.

In addition, some rehabs may have connections with halfway houses that can help bridge the gap between coming out of treatment and returning to normal life.

It is often the case that someone will enter rehab largely out of a sense of pressure. There will undoubtedly be a lot of internal pressure, but also quite likely external pressure from family or work colleagues or business colleagues.

Returning to a family environment or a work environment after a time in rehab can be a daunting prospect. A rehab in Florida should be able to address these concerns in practical ways, as they will have had a lot of experience of dealing with these issues.

A rehab will virtually always have some type of family program that they will encourage family members to attend whilst the client is in residence in rehab.

These family programs will begin the process of trying to help the family put in context the fact that alcoholism is an illness, and they have been affected as well by the nature of alcoholism.

The process of rebuilding trust in a family that has been severely affected by alcoholism can take a long time, and often the value or a rehab is to begin the process of unpicking some of the anger and resentment that will be present.

A rehab can lay foundations for the alcoholic to build a better way of life, and for the family to be able to appreciate that and rebuild their own lives as well.