A Timeline for Working the 12 Steps - The Discovery House Los Angeles CA
A Timeline for Working the 12 Steps

A Timeline for Working the 12 Steps

One of the most common things a newbie asks about the 12 steps, is how long is this going to take?

It’s understandable. Even if you won’t admit it, we know you’re excited about recovery. Who wouldn’t be? But here’s the thing. 

“Everyone recovers at his or her own pace and experiences sobriety in his or her own time.”

In this post, we’re going to share some advice about the 12 steps and talk about how you can find a timeline that works for you. 

A Timeline for Working the 12 Steps

Table of Contents

  • What is the Twelve-step Program
  • What is the Best 12 Step Timeline?
  • When Should I Start Working the Steps?
  • How Long Should It Take Me to Complete Each Step?
  • When Should I Be Finished With Them?

Loved one struggling with addiction? Get our free family help guide here. 

What is the Twelve-step Program? 

Before we dive in, it might be helpful for you to know what the 12 steps actually are.

If you’re a newbie – that’s cool. Many people have come before you and have been in your exact situation.

The twelve-step program has been around for a long time and has helped hundreds and thousands of men and women overcome alcohol and drug addiction. They were first published in Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as The Big Book), which was written by Bill Wilson (known better as Bill W.) They were later adapted and applied to countless other recovery programs such as Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon. Many treatment facilities find that utilizing evidence-based behavioral therapy combined with 12 step program offers the best chance for people to maintain sobriety long-term. 

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The 12 Steps of Recovery

Step one

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step two 

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step three

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

Step four

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step five

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step six

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step seven

Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Step eight

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step nine

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step ten

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step eleven

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step twelve

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

If you want to learn more about the 12 steps and how to apply them so that they work for you – Jorge is your guy. He’s been there so he can tell you exactly how it works if you work it. Don’t forget to share with anyone that might find it helpful.

What is the Best 12 Step Timeline?

In the early days, many people find that learning to live a life free from mood and mind-altering substances is demanding enough without worrying about step work. Others obsess about it and “should” all over themselves; thinking they “should” be feverishly working through the steps, even though they might not feel ready.

Nevertheless, newcomers often feel a need to attach a timeline to the recovery process in order to gain some insight into how the 12 step program works.

When Should I Start Working the Steps?

There are no “shoulds” when it comes to working the 12 steps.

There is no race. There is no rush. There is no hurry. There is no definite calendar when it comes to step work and – you guessed it – there is no timeline. Step work is something that comes in its own time and is completed in its own time. There is no guideline as to how long you should spend on each step or how long of a break you should take between steps.

Sometimes you even come back to steps long after you think you’re finished with them. Often people never stop working the steps but they just become ingrained in their everyday life. 

That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the 12 steps are where you will find healing, freedom, and serenity. Ultimately, you will find yourself experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of working the steps. You will hear the message of recovery in meetings, but only when you work the steps will you truly experience recovery.

If you’ve never attended an AA meeting or an NA meeting and would like to know about meetings in your area, call 818.452.1676 and we’ll send you a directory. 


The Many Benefits of the 12 Steps

The 12 steps will help you overcome your powerlessness and unmanageability. The steps help you identify a higher power and teach you how to surrender to that power. They also help you get to know (and love) yourself. The steps also teach you to forgive others and show you how to seek forgiveness. In short, the 12 steps offer a magnificent journey that takes you from the depths of despair and sets you right with the world.

If you’re loved one is struggling with addiction, download our free family help guide here. 

Many people get a sponsor and start working the steps immediately. Some wait until they feel mentally and emotionally ready to do so. Just keep in mind that you need to work the steps in order to experience all the gifts sobriety has to offer. If you decide to wait to get to work, that’s okay –just don’t wait too long. Some people remain abstinent for years and never work a single step…..not a good idea. (After all, we are living and working a 12-step program, not a no-step program!)

Battling the disease of addiction/alcoholism is no small feat. It requires incredible strength, courage, and determination. Kudos to you for making the effort to better your life!

You’ll know when you’re ready to move forward in your recovery and tackle the 12 steps. If you don’t, your sponsor will give you a nudge to get you going!