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What Is Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Step 2 AA – 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a fellowship of individuals who work together to address their alcohol use disorders (AUDs). It has no membership fees, no education requirements, and no age restrictions. Anyone who wishes to overcome their AUD is welcome to join AA and enroll in their 12-step program. The 12 steps of AA are:1, 2

  • We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  • We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  • We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  • We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  • We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  • We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  • We 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.
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

What Is Step 2 in AA?

The 2nd Step of AA states that: “We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” This step follows the 1st step, in which the individual admits that they are suffering from an AUD and are powerless to stop using alcohol on their own.3

This step is sometimes viewed as controversial by non-spiritual alcoholics because it appears to encourage them to believe in God. However, AA 2nd step isn’t literally about God – it’s about helping individuals find something outside themselves to inspire them and help them maintain sobriety. In other words, it is designed to help individuals choose their own higher power.3

To find their higher power, individuals should:3

  • Be open to the idea of looking beyond themselves for assistance and support.
  • Accept that they are unable to overcome their AUD on their own.
  • Regularly attend AA meetings and/or find a sponsor to help them through the process.

AA Step 2 Prayer

In Alcoholics Anonymous, a Higher Power can be anything that an individual believes is greater than them and their AUD. Although this Higher Power can take the form of any entity that represents something spiritual to the alcoholic, most recovering people envision it as a loving God or a similarly benevolent supernatural entity.4

This Higher Power serves as a constant presence in an individual’s life, and can be communicated with through meditation and/or prayer. A popular AA 2nd step prayer that many recovering addicts use to address their personal Higher Power goes as follows:4, 5

  • Heavenly Father,
  • I know in my heart that only you can restore me to sanity.
  • I humbly ask that you remove all twisted thought and
  • Addictive behavior from me this day.
  • Heal my spirit & restore in me a clear mind.

By serving as a form of conscious contact with a Higher Power, prayer or meditation helps an individual focus on specific concepts and thoughts (spiritual desire, relief from mental or physical pain, the will of God, etc.) and reflect on their meaning in the context of the Higher Power’s love. This aids the addict in stimulating thought, developing a deeper understanding of their Higher Power, and cultivating a personal relationship with it.4, 5

What Is the Importance of Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous?

The AA Step 2 is designed to give hope to individuals who are trying to overcome their AUDs and let them know that they are not alone. Its goal is to help alcoholics understand early on into the 12-step process that there is something greater than themselves that can aid them in achieving lasting sobriety. It helps them regain their sanity and sense of self, retake control over their lives, and stop alcohol from affecting their thoughts and actions.3

By aiding them in accepting their powerlessness against alcohol and helping them develop spiritual principles and self-awareness, the step two of AA provides an individual with the strong foundation they will need during the steps that follow. It can also help reduce the risk of a relapse, as it gives a person the support they need to stay in treatment and maintain their sobriety.3

What Is the Higher Power In the Step 2 of AA?

Although many individuals who participate in AA believe in God, AA does not require its participants to share a particular religious belief. Every participant is free to find their own Higher Power. The goal is to acknowledge this Higher Power and understand that it plays a pivotal role in their recovery.3

If an alcoholic is non-spiritual or has never considered their spiritual beliefs or beliefs about a Higher Power prior to coming to Alcoholics Anonymous, the step 2 invites them to do so. The individual does not even have to know what their Higher Power is, precisely. All they need to do is acknowledge that a Higher Power exists and that they cannot overcome their AUD without its aid.3

An individual’s Higher Power only needs to be something that is greater than themselves and, therefore, greater than their desire to drink alcohol. This can be something in their life, or it can be something abstract – it is entirely up to the individual. Possible versions of the Higher Power include:3, 4


Knowing that they have decided to address their AUDs for the good of their loved ones can act as a strong motivating force and serve the role of the Higher Power to some participants.

A Better Version of Oneself

Some individuals envision themselves as they could be without the disruptive influence of their alcohol use disorder. Their desire to rid themselves of their AUD so they can become this better version of themselves can serve as their Higher Power.

The Universe

Thinking of one’s own place in the universe and how it can be improved can become a powerful motivator for recovering alcoholics. For instance, individuals who feel guilty over the things they have done while under the influence of alcohol may come to believe that remaining sober is the only way to get right with the universe and become a force for positive change.

Cultural or Religious Figure

AA participants are sometimes inspired by and/or look up to real or fictional figures whom they admire and believe to be of higher moral fiber, and therefore above addiction. The desire to live up to the high standards set by these role models can act as a Higher Power in its own right.

How To Complete Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous?

How an individual goes about finding their Higher Power and completing AA step 2 can vary significantly from person to person. People who are spiritually inclined or had religious upbringing generally find it easier to complete this step, while non-religious participants may require more time to find and accept their Higher Power.3

Individuals may also receive guidance from their sponsor, if they have one. In this case, the sponsor will work with the sponsee to answer their questions, relieve their doubts, advise them on how to succeed, and help keep them on course. If they do not have a sponsor, individuals can talk to other members of their AA groups and ask them to share their experiences.3

What Are the Tips for Completing the 2nd Step of AA?

Being open to new ideas is a key component of the Alcoholics Anonymous step 2. Even if you or your loved one are opposed to the idea of God or religion, understand that your Higher Power does not necessarily have to be supernatural in any way. It can be anything that you consider to be greater than yourself, and therefore greater than your or your loved one’s alcohol use disorder.3, 4

Participants are usually encouraged to do the following during their daily lives:3

  • Keep searching. Finding a Higher Power and truly connecting with it takes time. Seeking within oneself while also learning about the different belief systems and viewpoints can be a slow process. Understanding this and not giving up is key to completing this part of the 12-step process.
  • Find the time to meditate and/or pray. Every day, individuals should set aside some time to pray, meditate, or otherwise convene with their Higher Power. By making this a habit, it will be easier to ignore distractions and communicate effectively with their Higher Power.
  • Understand and practice the 12 principles. Each of the 12 steps represents a spiritual principle. These include things like honesty, forgiveness, courage, humility, hope, and so on. The participant should make it a point to understand and practice these.
  • Help others. Volunteering to be of service to people in need not only helps individuals grow spiritually, but also feels very personally rewarding and creates a sense of responsibility.

What Are the Step 2 AA Worksheet Questions?

Understanding oneself and one’s AUD is an essential part of step 2 and the 12-step process as a whole. As a part of the recovery process, it can be really helpful to ask and answer important questions that are related to the 2nd step of AA. Key questions to ask include:3, 4

  • Have I made irrational and/or destructive decisions as a result of my alcohol addiction?
  • Am I finding it difficult to accept that there is a Power/Powers greater than myself?
  • Am I afraid of the idea that there is a Power greater than myself? Why do I feel this way?
  • Do I have any evidence that a Higher Power is at work in my life?
  • Did other recovering alcoholics share their experiences with the AA step 2 with me? Which of their experiences have resonated with me the most, and which ones have I tried out myself?
  • Why is having a closed mind bad for my personal recovery?
  • How am I practicing open-mindedness in my daily life right now?
  • What does the phrase “I came to believe” really mean to me?
  • What are some things that I would consider to be good examples of sanity?
  • What changes in my behavior and way of thinking are needed in order to restore my sanity?
  • What do I need to do to help let go of my fears related to trust?
  • Am I working with my sponsor, regularly attending meetings, and talking to other recovering alcoholics? What results, if any, has this yielded so far?

How to Interpret Step 2 AA: What Should I Do Next?

Step 2 naturally follows from Step 1. During it, the recovering addict realizes that they require the aid of something greater than themselves and their AUD to stop drinking alcohol and restore any semblance of sanity. To complete AA Step 2 means to find a source of unending inspiration and support that can be relied upon throughout the persons’ recovery and beyond.3

Without completing Step 2 of AA, an individual cannot proceed to Step 3, which states: “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” In Step 3, the alcoholic gives up the illusion that they are in control of how much they drink or how they behave while under the influence of alcohol. Combined with the first and second step, the third step serves to shift the way the alcoholic thinks of their drinking, enabling them to develop the right mindset and prepare them for the difficult steps that follow.6

How Can I Get Help With the 2nd Step Of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)?

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a nationwide network of addiction treatment centers that helps people who are struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) and any co-occurring mental health issues receive evidence-based treatment.

If you or a loved one are battling SUDs, do not hesitate to call our 24-hour alcohol addiction hotline and discuss your situation in total confidentiality with a trained navigator. Apart from being able to answer your question and provide expert guidance, the navigator will also be able to explain how insurance for drug and alcohol addiction works, help you verify your or your loved one’s insurance coverage for SUD treatment, and aid you in finding other ways to cover the cost of treatment (if needed). All of this can be done during a single phone call.

AAC can help treatment-seeking individuals find reputable rehab centers that can meet their or their loved one’s unique needs. These include intensive inpatient treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, 3, 5, and 7-day substance use detox programs, effective 28-30 day inpatient SUD treatment programs, and more. We offer multiple payment options for people who want to go into rehab, including custom payment plans for treatment-seeking individuals.

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