OK, even though the 12 steps are an "idea" they are still an actual process, one to be done step by step. We seem to have forgotten that this process is meant to clear a path for us to be receptive of God's grace.
To be totally honest with you the process of the steps works because they get you connected with your GOD. Your Higher Power, whoever that may be. They get you connected in a way that you can't really describe because it's different for everyone. Even if you already have a personal relationship with your Higher Power, working the steps helps clear the wreckage from our pasts and opens up that channel that is being blocked by the drugs and alcohol. And no matter how strong of a bond you may think you have with God, if you are using then you can be assured it's being blocked.
As alcoholics and addicts we have so much blocking our path that it's a testament to His power that He ever gets thru to some of us. And the first steps clear that path for us. Steps one to three get us to acknowledge that we need him and agree to try it His way. We HONESTLY make this agreement. Then the next series of steps are designed to clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Not a pretty endeavor but a very fruitful one. It opens us up to being humble, and humility is a big part of being able to accept God.
Now the keystone in this whole process, the one essential thing that makes it work is HONESTY. In order for this to work a person has to be able to be honest...and I mean deep down honest. Not just saying your being honest but actually BEING honest with yourself. If you can do that and follow the steps thru to the end then you have a very good chance of making it in the world of sobriety.
So why do we need the steps? Why can't we just put it down and stay sober?
One thing that a lot of people don't understand is that we are genetically wired to become addicts. They don't understand that you can't just take the drink or drug away and all is fixed. We are born with the genetic propensity to abuse for long periods of time...and some of us have went on for a long time. (I myself had a good 25 years of hard daily drinking and drugging.)
If you just take away the substance, you are not taking away the thing that is killing me, you're taking away the only thing that makes it better. The only thing that makes me feel right in my own skin. The thing I need to go to the grocery store, or attend a public function or to just face the day. So, if we take that away from the addicts and pat their butts and send them to meetings, are we helping them recover? No!
If you just take away the alcohol or drug all you've done is create a large void in that person. And as an addict, I can tell you that we WILL find something to fill that void. That's the whole obsessive part of this disease. Because trying to live with that empty space in us is too hard....and normal people have a hard time grasping that too.
The obsession ate a hole in our souls and spirits over the years and that's a pretty big hole to fill. So what is an addict to do? Just stopping only makes the restlessness, irritability,anger, loneliness and frustration all the more worse. We have to fill that void and we do that with God's grace and love.
First of all, as addicts, we have to have our own special way of getting connected to our Higher Power. And that special way is by working the 12 steps rapidly and honestly. Normal folks don't get that either.
So we've opened up a big crater in our souls and our hearts so how do we fill it? We as addicts are so blocked from obtaining any coherent signs that we need a series of steps, a process to open up that channel between us and God. Once we do, that hole start to fill immediately. It starts out as a slow trickle, but sure enough it starts getting fuller.
By the time you go into your third step you are consciously aware of the presence of your Higher Power. When you do the third step prayer, and even sooner, you've already felt stirrings of something you cannot explain.
We in AA and NA have forgotten, over the years, that this process works. And the general public thinks it's some kind of joke or religious ceremony. It's not! It's a proven method of getting an alcoholic or addict free of an obsession of the mind that is slowly killing them. And if you are a true alcoholic or addict and you think you can beat this thing without doing this process and without getting connected to YOUR God, you are dead wrong! By now you've probably tried it "your" way many times and it hasn't worked yet.