AA Step 3 – Learning How to Choose Sobriety

Trying to overcome alcohol addiction during the early stages of recovery may well require you to embrace radically new ideas and beliefs as part of the 12 Step path. Likewise, AA Step 3 can be somewhat overwhelming and even off-putting for some people.

The 12 Step recovery process is designed to mirror the stages of growth and change needed to overcome addiction’s effects in one’s life. In effect, AA Step 3 boils down to making the choice to live a sober lifestyle through the decisions and actions you make from day-to-day.

For information on 12 Step treatment program options, call our toll-free helpline at 800-839-1686Who Answers?.

The 12 Step Recovery Path

Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise recovering alcoholics face when entering recovery is the realization that stopping drinking is but a first step to living a sober lifestyle. More than anything else, overcoming the effects of alcoholism entails confronting the destructive thinking and behaviors that addiction leaves behind.

According to Yale University School of Medicine, the 12 Step recovery path acts as a road map that’s designed to help you replace the addiction-based mindset with a sobriety-based mindset.

The Role of AA Step 3 Within the 12 Step Process

AA Step 3

AA step 3 involves accepting the need for guidance.

Whereas AA Step 1 and AA Step 2 address the importance of confronting the addiction problem and accepting the need for a Higher Power’s help, AA Step 3 is about choosing to do what it takes to live a sober lifestyle. Turning your will over to a Higher Power becomes the bridge that makes this choice possible.

While some may be put off by the notion of a Higher Power in the God-sense, a Higher Power can be anything that inspires you to stay sober. In this respect, a Higher Power can be nature, your future hopes and dreams or even your children. What’s most important is to use this inspiration as a guidepost that helps you make the right choices from day-to-day.

AA Step 3 – A Two-Part Approach


According to Pennsylvania State University, the growth that takes place at AA Step 3 entails a two-part process. The first part has to do with acceptance. The second part deals with surrender.

Acceptance in this regard means seeing alcoholism’s destructive effects for what they are and accepting the need for guidance and help in order to overcome alcoholism’s effects. Acceptance also means developing a willingness to change for the better.

9 No-Fuss Alcohol Addiction Recovery Steps that You Learn in AA


Surrender, part two of AA Step 3, addresses issues involving self-will and self-pity and how these attitudes work against your efforts in recovery. In essence, surrendering these attitudes to the wisdom of a Higher Power opens the door for real change to begin.

Ultimately, surrendering to the wisdom of a Higher Power means choosing to do “the next right thing” when the urge to drink seems overwhelming.

If you’re considering entering a 12 Step treatment program and need help finding a program that’s right for you, call our helpline at 800-839-1686Who Answers? to speak with one of our addiction counselors.

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