The 12-step program has helped countless individuals throughout their sobriety journey. Kelly, J. F., & Abry, A. W. (2021). Leave the past behind by recognizing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of 12-Step facilitation and alcoholics anonymous. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 56(4), … Continue reading Even if you are unfamiliar with the details of each of the different 12-step programs, you’ve likely heard 12-step inspirational quotes. These quotes are meant to provide guidance and support for those in recovery. They are quick and easy-to-remember phrases that can help an individual in recovery focus on what is important.
These quotes are linked to many of the important values that make up the 12-step program such as accountability, hard work, honesty, and grace. These 12-step inspirational quotes are relevant for anyone who struggles with worry or finds themselves facing daily obstacles.
Favorite 12-Step Quotes
“One Day at a Time”
For those on their sobriety journey, this could also mean one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time. The purpose of this quote is to remind the individual that everything doesn’t have to be tackled at once. There is no reason to overburden your daily life with too many tasks or stresses. This quote is a reminder that not every problem, or necessary task can be addressed in a single day. Don’t worry about the tasks of tomorrow, simply take the time to breathe and focus on what you can manage today. Some days will be harder than others, it’s about accepting that it will happen and that it’s okay.
“The Program Works If You Work It”
Long-term recovery is not a passive act. The 12-step program is designed to be an active, ongoing, and reflective process. The effectiveness of support groups often comes up for debate. Worrall, H., Schweizer, R., Marks, E., Yuan, L., Lloyd, C., & Ramjan, R. (2018). The effectiveness of support groups: a literature review. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 22(2). … Continue reading However, what these different studies often can’t measure is the willingness to put in the work of the individual. The success of this program largely depends on the person’s willingness to put in the work. It is similar to someone having a gym membership. The membership alone won’t result in physical improvements. True success depends on the ability to show up, work hard, stay consistent, and ask for help when needed.
“Progress Not Perfection”
Addiction can affect every different facet of an individual’s life. This includes their relationships, their employment, and their living situations. Recovery can feel overwhelming because it involves rebuilding different aspects of your life. This adds pressure for anyone. This quote is intended to remind the individual not to add unnecessary pressures to their life. It is okay to not have everything together. What matters the most is that the person is making progress, even if that progress seems small. There is no need for anyone to feel that they have to be perfect when it comes to balancing work, school, family, and all other aspects of everyday life.
“Let Go and Let God”
Much of the 12-step program involves acknowledging a higher power. This doesn’t necessarily mean God in the religious sense. This can be any higher power the individual wants to acknowledge. This quote essentially reminds a person that it is okay to let go of the things they can’t control. Allowing concerns out of your control to be left to a higher power helps to lift burdens and keep an individual on a manageable path.
“The Disease Is Progressive. So Is Your Recovery”
Everyone’s journey is unique with its own set of challenges. Addiction develops over time. What may have started as social drinking may have turned into drinking to survive over time. The course of the disease was progressive and took time; it didn’t happen overnight. Recovery won’t happen overnight either. It is a progressive journey that requires hard work and dedication. There will be good days, and there will be hard days. Understanding that it is okay to struggle helps those in recovery stay focused on the larger picture.
“You’re Only as Sick as Your Secrets”
Shame is one of the most common internal emotions that are felt by an individual overcoming an addiction. Snoek, A., McGeer, V., Brandenburg, D., & Kennett, J. (2021). Managing shame and guilt in addiction: A pathway to recovery. Addictive Behaviors, 120, 106954. … Continue reading
This feeling of shame stems from the misguided decisions made while suffering from addiction. Addiction can often result in broken relationships, lost employment, and poor decision-making that can even result in criminal activity. Once on a path of sobriety, the choices made while under the influence can fill a person with shame.
Sometimes, this shame can be distorted, making the individual feel that forgiveness is impossible. This can lead to a harmful cycle of feeling shame, keeping secrets, and turning to drugs or alcohol to relieve those feelings. This is why honesty is so important for long-term recovery. When a person can be honest with themselves and their loved ones, they can move past the shame and learn to accept and love who they are now.
“This Too Shall Pass”
When hit with a stressful event, circumstance, or obstacle, it can feel like you’ll never be able to move beyond it. This popular 12-step inspirational quote is a simple reminder that no matter how big an issue seems at the present, it will pass. Everything passes, including the obstacles that feel impossible. It can be difficult, but it is important to not let what feels like the impossible bother you. It will pass.
“You Are Not Alone”
Both addiction and recovery can feel isolating. There are feelings of shame that need to be overcome. There is also the need to learn how to be open with yourself and others. While it can feel like you are on your own, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are people all over the world who are also on their path to recovery. When the process seems overwhelming, it is helpful to remember that this isn’t a solo event. This is where peer support can be exceptionally beneficial.
“Live and Let Live”
The only part of the sobriety journey that a person can control is their own view of it. This quote is a daily reminder that the only choices and emotions you can control are your own. Life is full of encounters that can result in disagreements, and an inability to see eye to eye. Instead of spending time and energy trying to get someone else to see or understand you, focus on your own life and choices.
“Take What You Like and Leave the Rest”
Peer support can provide a safe place to feel heard and express views. Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 7, 143–154. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S81535 This allows for people to share their journey of a common goal towards sobriety. However, it is beneficial to remember that not everything said in a peer support setting is an absolute truth. If a person is new to the process of peer support techniques for recovery, it can be difficult to traverse through all the information provided, both factual and based on opinion.
This quote is meant to remind those in recovery that they don’t have to accept everything they hear. Naturally, not everything will apply to everyone. What matters most is the willingness to be open to the process while knowing you can leave behind what you feel won’t be beneficial to your unique situation.
“How Important Is It?”
Prioritizing what is most important can be the most beneficial, yet the most difficult aspect of not only recovery but life in general. When daily tasks, pressures, and responsibilities start to add up, ask yourself how important it is. A person shouldn’t let the trivial aspects of the day overwhelm their thoughts and feelings. A task shouldn’t take over your life, especially if it doesn’t need your immediate attention. Your priority should be your own health, happiness, and family first. The other stuff can wait for a more manageable time.
“Count Your Blessings”
A large part of the 12-step program is learning to find the positive in the everyday. It is easy to focus on the things in life that are going wrong. This can add to feelings of stress and inadequacy. Too much focus on the negative can impact a person’s sobriety journey. That is why it is so important to remember the good things, no matter how small they may seem. When the negatives in life start to overcrowd thoughts, taking a step back and counting the blessings in life can help refocus the mind.
“Let It Begin With Me”
It can be easy to put others first, leaving your needs and desires on the backburner. This quote is a simple reminder that a person’s biggest priority should be themselves. In recovery, it is important to stay focused on yourself and your needs. This provides the best chance for long-term success.
“I Choose Happiness”
Addiction can reroute the way your brain works, changing the way you think. Having a positive mindset can make a significant difference in overall success. Actively choosing to be happy when you wake up in the morning can change the way you approach your day. Choosing happiness can help when it comes to staying positive and preventing the negativity and stress of the day from becoming overwhelming.
Find Inspiration in the Simple Sayings
Recovery can be a long journey, but it is one a person doesn’t have to go on alone. There are numerous tools that can help an individual on their sober journey. The 12-step program is filled with support and inspirational quotes to help provide guidance when things feel bleak. There are countless perspectives when it comes to the best approaches for recovery. What ultimately matters is finding an approach that works for your needs and lifestyle. No matter what form of addiction support you choose, you can find hope and guidance in these simple yet powerful 12-step inspirational quotes.
Michael D. Stone, MD has been in practice for over 30 years. He graduated from Medical School in 1986 and attended LA County/USC Medical Center Residency in the field of Emergency Medicine. He is a practicing E.R. doctor at 2 hospitals in the Southern California area. Dr. Stone also has a Specialty in Chemical Dependency and Addiction Medicine for 22 years. He is the Medical Director of numerous Residential and Outpatient Facilities in the Los Angeles area. Dr. Stone’s interests outside of medicine include a commercial pilot, all outdoor activities including skiing, fishing and boating.
|Kelly, J. F., & Abry, A. W. (2021). Leave the past behind by recognizing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of 12-Step facilitation and alcoholics anonymous. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 56(4), 380-382. https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/agab010
|Worrall, H., Schweizer, R., Marks, E., Yuan, L., Lloyd, C., & Ramjan, R. (2018). The effectiveness of support groups: a literature review. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 22(2). https://doi.org/10.1108/MHSI-12-2017-0055
|Snoek, A., McGeer, V., Brandenburg, D., & Kennett, J. (2021). Managing shame and guilt in addiction: A pathway to recovery. Addictive Behaviors, 120, 106954. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.106954
|Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation, 7, 143–154. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S81535