The 12 Days of Addiction Recovery: A Happy Holidays Story

If you celebrate the holidays, you most likely are familiar with the classic Christmas song The 12 Days of Christmas.

In the song, the person’s true love gives them a new gift for each of the twelve days, and it is intended to bring in the New Year with joy and prosperity.

How incredible does that sound, especially if you or a loved one is currently struggling with substance abuse addiction?

If things have been tough, if you or your loved one aren’t in recovery yet, in the beginning, stages, or have suffered a relapse, there is hope!

Just as in the 12 Days of Christmas, recovery is brimming with significant 12’s (based on the program of Alcoholics Anonymous)– the 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions, the 12 Concepts of Service, and the 12 Promises – all of which can bring you the hope, serenity, joy, and prosperity that you seek in this coming year and beyond.


This is the good news and holiday cheer we wish to bring you here!

Although it’s not possible to find significant recovery from addiction in just 12 magical days, you can find some relief this holiday season by putting some basic principles into practice.

If you’re already in recovery, you may find this to be a terrific way to beef up and stay focused on your recovery program during a time when relapse is particularly common so you can remain clean and sober.

You may find an opportunity to help other addicts stay clean and sober during this challenging time of year!

Even families and friends of addicts can put these suggestions into practice this holiday season to help ease the burden and stress that the holidays and addiction often bring.

Often, near the closing of a 12 Step meeting, whether it’s Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, the 12 Promises will be read by one of the meeting attendees.

But we’re not going to wait to open the gifts until the end of the article; we’re going to let you have a sneak a peek right now! After all, this is a Happy Holidays story! In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a section on page 83 and 84 of the 3rd Edition that in describing the 9th Step, includes the 12 Promises of the program.

It states that “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.”

So what are the Promises, these beautiful gifts of working a recovery program? According to the AA Big Book, the 12 Promises are:

We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

We will comprehend the word serenity, and we will know peace.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.

We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.

Self-seeking will slip away.

Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.

Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.

We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

We love the last part where the Big Book states that everyone who works the recovery program will receive the promises.

This is super important for you to understand, so we feel it is worth repeating: EVERYONE who works the recovery program will receive the gifts of recovery!!!

It doesn’t matter how big a mess your life is, how many mistakes you have made, if you’ve been incarcerated as a result of your addiction, stolen, beaten someone up, even if you cost someone their life driving while intoxicated – you can turn your life around, make amends for your misdeeds, and experience peace, serenity, and prosperity in recovery!


And no matter how heinous you believe you are for your misdeeds, you do deserve recovery and the gifts that go along with it. Because while the gifts are amazing, they’re not just for you; if you are a better person for having worked the steps and are living a spiritually-based life in recovery, everyone around you benefits too.

And that is a Happy Holidays story with a happy ending for every one of us!

So get ready to spread some cheer this holiday season by letting it begin with you and your inner journey.

Pick 12 days to commit to practicing one of the 12 steps per day in a way that contributes to making the holidays less stressful, more insightful, and more giving, and more spiritual.

For instance, if you begin on December 21st, you would be practicing step 11 on New Year’s Eve. Meditation and prayer are a great way to serenely bring in the New Year and avoid the temptation to use or drink because everyone else is partying.

You could even organize a group prayer and meditation Sober New Year’s Eve gathering with others in recovery. That would be a great way to practice both steps 11 and 12 in one extremely challenging evening for addicts!

Or you could start on December 20th and be of service in other ways to addicts on New Year’s Eve to do whatever you can to share experience, strength, and hope that could save someone one from relapse and possibly save their life and the lives of others!

You could volunteer to provide free rides to those who are too intoxicated to drive through local organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).

You could volunteer to speak at a meeting that night. You could call people in your recovery group to reach out to them and see how they’re doing.

You can also just start today and do 12, 24, or 36 days of focusing on the steps (do steps 1-12 and then repeat), to stay close to recovery the whole month and into the New Year to start right.

Whatever way you choose, if you focus on one step a day, in order, your whole outlook on the holidays will shift from stress and chaos to serenity and clarity, and with that, joy.

We are not suggesting that it is possible to thoroughly work all 12 steps in just 12 days or to do so without a sponsor, recovery partner, addiction counselor, or the like.

We are suggesting that for 12 days you can do a little something to embrace the spirit of each step, no matter where you are in your recovery process.


Here are the steps as paraphrased and quoted from the Big Book of AA with some suggestions of how you might do this:

Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Ah, the holidays! People cutting you off on the road, fighting for parking spots, merchandise or the last drumstick; so many opportunities to practice admitting powerlessness because these are all common triggers to relapse!

Try saying the Serenity Prayer when this happens and remind yourself that you can’t control anyone else.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Pause today and consider what it might be like if there were a force outside of you that could stop the crazy.

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

Practice the art of letting go. Stop trying to do everything yourself and ask for help from at least one person today.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Practice noticing when your thinking or behavior is “off” today. Are you obsessing, judging others harshly, or have you been rude in your haste?

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Pick one thing you did this week that was out of integrity and tell a trusted person, such as a therapist, clergy, or a recovery partner. Notice how much weight lifts when you do so.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Consider one characteristic you know to be true about yourself that is less than desirable – lying, perfectionism, blaming – and what life might be like if you were willing to change.

Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

Ask for the willingness to be willing to change the characteristic you considered in step 6 from your version of God, or for help from an addiction therapist or recovery partner.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

The holidays can kick up old family wounds like no other time of year. Identify one person, place, or thing that you are holding resentment toward today. This might even be yourself!

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Be careful here and refrain from making any kind of direct apologies, etc. unless you are actively working this step with a sponsor or recovery partner or the results could be disastrous!

We suggest a token of kindness or service to the object of your resentment.

 If it’s your wife, this might be taking out the trash without being asked before she has to ask you three times to do it. If it’s a previous or current employer, make a small anonymous donation to a charity they support.

If it’s your father who is already passed on, take some time today to visit with a nursing home patient like him.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Journal for five or ten minutes in the evening about your day including how you behaved, what you thought, and anything you know you did wrong, or resentments that you may have formed.

Just putting pen to paper is a great way to gel in this step. Remember, avoid direct amends unless you’re actively working steps 9 or 10 under guidance.

Step 11: 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.

If you haven’t reached this step yet, try making a list of dreams and desires to get in touch with your heart. Usually, they are put there by God.

Step 12: 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.

Do something to be of service to someone in your recovery program if you have one and if not; there are plenty of service opportunities during the holidays from which to choose.


Holiday Cheer?!

So are you ready to spread some holiday cheer to others and be filled with peace, serenity, clarity, and joy yourself?

You can stay clean and sober, or if you are the loved one of an addict, you can stay sane and find peace within despite what is going on around you.

Using our suggestions and practicing the spirit of one step per day may give you a taste of the promises of recovery. It will also serve to connect you with others whom you may not usually engage. And what a beautiful gift that will be for you and those around you this holiday season!

Our amazing Recovery Center that has talented and skilled professionals that can help you with your recovery efforts and to understand the value of these 12 step programs.

If you need help with your recovery, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.

The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment.  Call anytime.

Chateau Recovery Center 375 Rainbow Lane
Midway, UT 84049, USA
If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

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