How Do I Find a Higher Power in Recovery?

12-step programs, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, have been beneficial to many people as a means of addiction recovery. However, some take issue with the program’s premise of a “higher power.” When the first 12-step program was created, the higher power concept referred to the Christian God, but these days, it is up to the individual what they want their higher power to be. Despite this, some people still have trouble with a higher power concept, especially if they are non-religious. The fact is that having a higher power when going through a 12-step program is necessary for some people to find a greater purpose. 

Fortunately, your higher power doesn’t have to be God. People have found their higher power in many different ways that have nothing to do with religion. You can easily find your own higher power as well. 

What is a 12-Step Program?

12-step programs are a means of reaching recovery from addiction. The first 12-step program introduced was Alcoholics Anonymous, which has since transformed to help many people and is used by many different organizations. While there are variations on the 12-steps, most center around the same basic steps, which include:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  6. Were entirely ready to ask God to remove all these defects of character 
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out 
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs 

Several steps mention a higher power, so it is a crucial element of a 12-step program. 

What if I’m not Religious?

Those who aren’t religious might be instantly turned off by programs that use a higher power concept and may not even give them a chance. However, there are ways for non-religious people to get the most out of a 12-step program without putting faith in God. 

12-step programs have proven to be an excellent tool in helping people recover from addiction. Many non-religious people engaged in 12-step programs worldwide have managed to find alternatives to God as their version of a higher power. 

What Can I Use as a Higher Power?

12-step programs allow the individual to decide who or what they recognize as their higher power; nobody will be forced to pray to God. Alternative higher powers that some people use include nature, science, the universe, love, and many more. You can use anything as long as it’s something you see as greater than yourself. 

Why Do I Need a Higher Power?

Even though there are alternatives to God, some people still wonder what the point of having a higher power is. Believing in a higher power offers a connection to one’s self and the universe as a whole. Once you have the relationship, it’s easier to feel less alone while going through addiction recovery. Loneliness is one of the greatest hindrances of addiction recovery, and anything you use to combat this can be helpful. You can even see your recovery group as your higher power. 

At some point in the addiction recovery process, you might start to feel overwhelmed. The feeling of having a higher power watching over you can help ease your mind. Having a higher power to pray to can make it easier to overcome many of your challenges. 

The concept of a higher power also gives many people a sense of purpose, which is instrumental during addiction recovery. You need to believe there is a purpose to recovering from your addiction, or will likely find yourself unmotivated. 

Addiction recovery is a personal journey, and you should use whatever concepts/tools work best for you. 


Most 12-step programs have various mentions to a “higher power,” which is a concept that many non-religious people struggle with. However, there are many different things one could view as their higher power. Some examples include science, nature, or even your addiction recovery group. Having this higher power can make the addiction recovery process more manageable as it could give you a greater sense of purpose and, in turn, more motivation. Having proper motivation is essential during the addiction recovery process; you may find yourself slipping into temptation without it. At Choice House, we use 12-step programs to aid in the addiction recovery process, and it has proven successful. In addition to 12-step programs, we also utilize outdoor therapy, art therapy, one-on-one therapy sessions, group therapy, and much more. As a part of our community, you will learn new life skills and develop lifelong friendships with great people. Get started today by calling Choice House at (720) 577-4422.

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