Practice These Principles: Living the Spiritual Disciplines


…and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery to Achieve Spiritual Growth, Character Development, and Emotional Sobriety

Steps 1, 2 & 3

Author: Ray A.

Most of us in long-term recovery know the Steps so well that we could easily rattle them off from memory, wrapping up our recitation with the familiar “and practice these principles in all our affairs.”   But what are “these principles?”   Exactly what principles are the Steps calling us to practice?   Which principles do we practice when working a particular Step?

Faced with any number of situations in our daily lives, how readily do we discern the principles involved, and how well then do we live them out?   In AA, practicing “these principles” is the fulfillment of the 12 Steps.   It is the program’s prescription for the good life, a life of spiritual growth and emotional sobriety that we share with our fellows, helping to bring healing to the alcoholic and to others who suffer in our midst.  Yet, though crucial to recovery, many of us are not really sure what these principles are, and their connection to the Steps remains a gray area, in AA and probably in other fellowships as well.

This uncertainty spills over into another and related gray area: the relationship between the spiritual, the moral, and the emotional in recovery, and how these are tied to character growth.   Because these links too, are unclear, emotional sobriety remains a distant and elusive goal for many of us long after we have stopped drinking.   We may be sober (or clean, or otherwise abstinent), but our lives are at best manageable and tolerable – sometimes not even that.

Practice These Principles  brings clarity to the relationship between Steps and principles, offering a comprehensive understanding of what these principles are and how we can practice them in our daily affairs. Its purpose is to help us work the Steps in all their fullness so that we can grow in character, achieve spiritual and emotional healing, and see the Promises fulfilled at last in a life that is “happy, joyous, and free.”