Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious and widespread issue in the US. Namely, almost 15 million Americans struggled with it in 2019 only. Alcohol dependence or abuse is considered to be a medical condition, and therefore should be treated accordingly. There is, unfortunately, no single cure, the reason being that everyone’s AUD is unique and that everyone responds to both the problem and its solution differently.1
This is why individuals with AUD are strongly advised to seek professional help, which includes individualized advice and plan for treatment. The 2 basic types of treatment are medications and behavioral treatment, which can be inpatient or outpatient.1
However, this may not be enough for some people. Whether the traditional treatment is not helping you or your loved one as much as it should, or you want additional help for handling AUD, one of the most common alternative options are mutual-support groups and 12-step programs.1
While they are not and should not be a replacement for evidence-based treatment, they offer support and understanding from people who are struggling with AUD. The best-known program is Alcoholics Anonymous, a 12-step program with guided support.2 Each of the steps requires special attention, and below you will read all the information you need to understand step 7 AA.
What Is Step 7 AA?
In order to reach the 7th step of AA, you need to complete the first six. That means that you have admitted to your powerlessness, allowed a higher power to guide you, given yourself over to it, realized what your sins are and became ready to let the higher power, i.e. God, help you remove all your flaws.3 Then you will have reached the 7th step AA, which says: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.3
Like other substance use disorders (SUDs), AUD tends to cause an individual to commit a lot of missteps – fallouts, mistakes, wrongdoings. AA believes that admitting those missteps to oneself and others is key to achieving long term recovery. And while you or your loved one have confessed the nature of your wrongdoings in step 5, now it is time for you to change your outlook on them.4
Instead of shame, hiding, or even arrogance when your wrongdoings are brought up – you should learn to be humble. Humility in the face of your own past mistakes is the key element of step 7 of Alcoholics Anonymous, meaning that you should learn to see humility as a new, positive outlook on life, rather than as something to avoid.4
Humility does sometimes come after a certain degree of humiliation, but reaching it does not only mean completing step 7 of AA and moving on with your recovery, but also changing the outlook on your life completely, i.e. unlocking a permanent change which will be useful in all the spheres of your life, not only in recovery.4
Instead of running away from your problems or sweeping them under the carpet, 7th step AA drives you to look them in the eye and humbly accept them as a thing of the past. But this permanent change does not only refer to the past, but also to the future. That is where the higher power, or God (whatever you consider it to be) comes in – you ought to let Him remove the mistakes in the name of your humility.4
Aside from humility, the step 7 of AA requires action and honesty. It is not easy, but it is a great milestone which completes the journey you have been on since step 4 when you started examining your moral flaws.
7th Step Prayer AA
It is useful to have motivational words you can always return to as you progress through the 7th step. As all the other steps, step 7 comes with a prayer, which serves that purpose:5
“My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding. Amen.”
The 7th step prayer of AA is closely connected to the 7th step as it presents the same idea more thoroughly: you should let the higher power (God) be in control and free you from your flaws in character. In that way, you will be able to move forward with your recovery.4 These “defects” prevent you from achieving everything you want, but also from being useful to your community. This, of course, is not an easy task, so you can seek the strength to succeed through this prayer.
Prayer is a common way of communicating with the higher power. As a reminder, that power is not necessarily spiritual (e.g. a religious God), but can also be of secular nature (e.g. your fellowship). However, through prayer or meditation, you remind yourself of your goals and keep in touch with the idea – it is not as important to whom you pray, rather what you pray for. And in this case, it is humility.6
What Is the Importance of AA Step 7?
Each of the steps carries its own importance in that each is vital to complete and understand fully in order to recover and stay sober. Although it requires action on your behalf, AA step 7, like some others, is about letting go and having faith in the higher power to remove your shortcomings and help you overcome addiction.4
The humility and giving yourself over is emphasized in the 7th step of AA because of what preceded it – self-centeredness and arrogance. The 7th step of AA is not only useful for your addiction and recovery, but also for the life that waits ahead, which you will face with a new outlook on life. Therefore, the changes made in this process can be considered permanent as they spread to the other aspects of your life (relationships, jobs, religion etc).4
These changes are personal, which is why they affect your general attitudes and not only your recovery. But by removing the obsessions and alcohol as a coping mechanism, you learn to approach problems and conflicts in a healthier and more rational way.4
Step 7 AA, like all the others, is not without challenges. It is not easy to admit to and accept all your flaws. But by facing them, you are also awarded with facing all your strengths as well. Humility is also hard-earned, as many people would rather be proud and arrogant than humble about their mistakes. That is why humility is at the center of this step, since learning to practice it brings you closer to sobriety, yourself and God.4
How To Complete the 7th Step Of AA?
Generally, all of the steps require commitment and engagement on your behalf in order to be completed. The 7th step AA is no different. There are 3 main ideas when it comes to 12-step programs and this step encompasses all of them:7,4
- Acceptance. Although admitting to your problem is the goal in the first step already, 7 step AA entails accepting all your mistakes and character flaws – without it, you cannot complete the step.
- Surrendering. Some things cannot be done on your own according to AA, and righting your personal flaws is one of them. In step 7 of AA you should ask Him, i.e. God or the higher power to “remove your shortcomings”3 with humility. You surrender so as to progress.
- Active participation. Last but not least, you should come to meetings and take part in their activities in order to increase your chances of long-term success.
Apart from this, many AA members find the time outside meetings to work on their recovery, as this is a journey affecting your whole life. So the last thing to do during step 7 of AA would be to:
- Practice daily meditations or prayer. This helps strengthen your relationship with your higher power, but also find the faith within. For many people, the distrust and unwillingness to let go are the main obstacles in 12-step programs, but once they find it, the process is suddenly a lot easier.6
What Are the Tips for Completing Step 7 AA?
As with any part of your AA journey, there is no single or right way to complete the 7th step of AA. The stages mentioned above are universal, but the way you approach them is up to you. You should keep in mind the goal, humility, and letting go. There are a few things you can try to do to finish step 7 AA more easily:
- Meditate or pray. We have previously discussed this, but it is worth mentioning again. Daily meditations or prayers, especially the step 7 prayer AA will keep you focused on your goal and remind you of its importance, calming you down.6
- Talking to your mentor. Mentors or guides are there to provide reassurance and support when you need it – so do not be hesitant about asking for it.6
- Introspection. Take a look within – are you more humble about your problems than you used to be? Focus on humility and be honest with yourself. Admit what your biggest flaws are and accept to let go of them.4
- Reflect on previous steps. You cannot achieve one step before you have completed the others. Have you admitted to your powerlessness, given over to God, prepared to have God remove your flaws? If the answer is no, go back to earlier steps and work on them.3
AA Step 7 Worksheet Questions
While progressing through the steps, you might reach some deadends or get stuck. Whether you are in such a position, or you just want to examine how your attitude has changed, it is useful to pose questions to yourself to see how it is going. The 7th step of AA is particularly challenging since you ought to introduce humility into your outlook on life. In order to help yourself understand that, you can ask the following questions:4,5
- How has my understanding of my higher power developed?
- How have the previous six steps prepared me for step 7 AA?
- How does being aware of my own humility help when working the 7th step?
- How do I plan to ask a God of my understanding or higher power to remove my shortcomings?
- How does the spiritual principle of “surrender” work for me in step 7?
- Am I comfortable with prayer and meditation?
- Has my sense of perspective or “reality” been out of proportion lately?
- Have there been times when I have been able to stop from acting on a character defect and practice a spiritual principle instead?
- Are there any shortcomings that have been removed from my life or at least diminished in their power over me?
How to Interpret Step 7 of AA: What Should I Do Next?
Step 7 AA is both about action and reflection – you should learn to change your perspective, be humble and accept your character flaws, but you should also have trust in the higher power or God to remove those shortcomings for you. This step is the combination of all the previous ones, as you have admitted to your problems, found what you believe in, let some control go and realized what your mistakes had been.4
Now you are ready to allow that higher power to help you overcome the negatives all while you are learning how to have humility in life. This change should not only affect your addiction recovery, but all the other aspects of your life, too. With the words of the 7th step prayer, you are ready to move on.5
The following step 8 says: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.3 After introspection, it is time for a look outwards. You will seek the friends and family members you have hurt and reconcile. This part of the journey is equally important for you and for them, and although it is not easy, like all the other steps, it brings you closer to recovery.5
How Can I Get Help from Step 7 of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)?
Seeking help is the first step to success. In order to begin with your 12-step journey and reach the 7th step of AA, you should first call a hotline to get the information you need. The admissions navigators will inform you about the cost of your treatment, the nearest facilities and their insurance policies, i.e. how much your insurance covers for you. If your insurance does not cover the costs, you will get advice on where to get the money and also the different payment options. Call one of these numbers:
- American Addiction Centers – if you or your loved one are struggling with addiction, do not hesitate and call for help.8
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-487-4889 – a free service available 24/7 in English and Spanish.9
- National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 1 (800) NCA-CALL (622-2255).10