What is a “Higher Power” in 12-Step Recovery?

Many newcomers will enter the rooms of 12-Step recovery meetings, see the word “God,” and run for the door. There is a common misconception that 12-Step recovery programs are religious in nature, and that spirituality comes from developing a dogmatic approach to the concept of a Higher Power. Many members of recovery programs do hold religious beliefs and apply those beliefs to their program, others maintain an entirely agnostic, and in some cases, entirely atheistic approach to the Higher Power concept.
The concept of a Higher Power, as related to 12-Step recovery, refers to the fact that we are entirely powerless over our ability to control or cease our drug use and must turn to something greater than ourselves to gain access to that power. Russell Brand, in his book Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions, explains, “A ‘Power greater than ourselves’ is a phrase that get unduly complicated. Like a lot of people with addiction issues, I pick away at concepts, ruminating and nervously reflecting. Are we alone in the universe? What are the forces that drive nature? What initiated this process? Did anything initiate this process? Is time even real? What the hell is consciousness anyway? It isn’t helpful, necessary or relevant to wander off into an epistemological labyrinth at this formative stage of recovery. In practical terms, power is the ability to effect change. On our own we didn’t have enough power to change so we need access to a power that exceeds that.” This power, whatever our concept of it may be, is something that we can access to gain the necessary power to overcome addiction.
In order to develop a spiritual connection, it is necessary to recognize our own powerlessness. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains that men and women suffering from alcoholism “will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge. This is a point we wish to emphasize and re-emphasize, to smash home upon our alcoholic readers as it has been revealed to us out of bitter experience.” To gain the power to overcome addiction—power that we do not possess as individuals—we must turn to something greater, whatever it may be. Some believe in a deity or religious conception of God, others believe in nature and the universe, and still others use the program and fellowship of 12-Step recovery. It does not matter what our conception is, so long as we come to rely on something greater than ourselves to give us the power that we lack.

Your story can be one of redemption in recovery. You can begin building a life of hope, faith, and courage by making the decision to seek help now. Oceanfront Recovery, located in beautiful Laguna Beach, is staffed with experienced and compassionate professionals dedicated to helping clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain lasting sobriety. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 279-1777