I am often asked about the applicability of the 12-steps to teenagers and even more for those without drug or alcohol abuse or dependence (or other similarly “addictive” behaviors such as internet, video-gaming, overeating, gambing, sex etc). In my response, I speak about the underlying values and principles that each step teaches and how the steps can be applied as a framework for living life. Some people also get tripped up over the overt spirituality of the steps. Although the spirituality is what resonates for many, the steps can be understood and used without the spiritual element. The following is a good description of what the steps are, in their basic form – its the 12-steps for young people.
1. I tried to be in charge of my life, but it got messed up.
2. I started learning to trust other people in my life and allowing that someone other than myself could help me.
3. I reach out and ask for help (and find the confidence to do so) and am willing to try something new.
4. I make a list of mistakes I made, and a list of things I like about myself.
5. I share my list with someone I trust (sponsor).
6. I know the problems I have and the mistakes I make. I decide I really do want things to be different for me.
7. I let other people help me with my problems and mistakes.
8. I make a list of people who I’ve hurt.
9. I apologize to those people and make things right to the best of my ability.
10. I continue to work to correct the mistakes I make.
11. I continue to get help and support form other people.
12. I help myself and others by sharing my experience with others, and I look for ways to apply these principles in all areas of my life.
I think there is broad agreement that everyone should have the ability to do these steps and that they become the foundation of healthy development and maturation for those that have lost their way.