The second step of Alcoholics Anonymous begins the process of finding a higher power to help the addict relinquish control.

What Does Step 2 of AA Mean?

Step 2 of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) follows directly from step 1, where the addict accepts that they are powerless in the face of their dependence on alcohol. The second step prayer is;

“We came to be aware that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

This statement solidifies that the individual is powerless and only through accepting a higher power can they get free of addiction. This is intended to help addicts yield control over to those who currently have a grip on addiction or who are in a position to help, such as community leaders or counselors. This relinquishing of power is essential in the early stages but it does not mean you have to admit powerlessness forever.

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What is the “greater power” of the second step of AA?

This statement is a remnant from the foundations of AA, where a more solidly religious attitude was taken to the steps. This can make some new members uncomfortable as it seems to still suggest that there is a greater power that the addict must submit to in order to regain control of their addiction.

However, the greater power is meant to represent something special or sacred to the individual and doesn't have to be related to any sect, religion, or deity. Here are some examples of what “greater power” can mean to people.

A role model or cultural figure

Some people use an inspiring figure from history or current culture, a motivational celebrity, or a member of their family or friends that they hold in high esteem to represent their higher power. The idea is that the figure they revere represents an elevated form that they aspire to.

A version of themselves

Some people use a version of themselves, one that is free of addiction, as a representation of a higher power. This is often either an imagined version of themselves that is aspirational or a sober version of themselves before drugs and alcohol.

A religious figure

Just because the higher power doesn't have to be religious doesn't mean it can’t be. AA welcomes all religions and respects people's beliefs, especially when it comes to a representation of sobriety.

There is no right version of the “higher power”

New members are invited and expected to build their own construct of what the higher power means to them. It may be a daunting task and one that many members do not conclude lightly or quickly.

Talking with other members of AA about their experiences and how they interpret the higher power can help solidify what it means to you. Everyone is open and expected to make have their own version of the higher power and no two are ever exactly the same.

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