A book is next to a sunset and a man whos face palming

“the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.”

-Alcoholics Anonymous, pg 62


The heavy wording of the third step is sure to leave any newcomer baffled. How does one make a decision to completely turn their will over to a concept that may or may not be brand new to them? Who wants to give up their own self-will at all in the first place?

Once we take an honest look at the result of our self-will run riot, we can begin to see the benefit of turning it over.

The Third Step in Recovery

While this step may seem an insurmountable task, it is unquestionably one of the most rewarding of the twelve steps. With a little action, we can begin to get out of our own way on the path to recovery.

First, it is important for us to simply take an honest look at where following our self-will hasA man has his hands up in the sky with the sun landed us. Our best thinking has more often than not resulted in the hell of alcoholic/drug obsession.

The basic text makes the analogy for our self-will with that of an actor who attempts to run and control the entire show he is performing.

By attempting to control every aspect of the show, the entire thing ultimately comes to a crashing halt.

This provides a great analogy for the alcoholic/drug user trying to control their own usage, and manage all the fall out that occurs in all other areas of their life (relationships, work, school, etc).

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, 59

Once convinced that running on self-will is often the source of many of our problems, the action of turning our will over occurs.

While this seems an impossible task, those who have made it this far in the steps already have turned over their will to a degree, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Certainly accepting the help of the fellowship, or enrolling in a drug treatment facility, constitutes an act of turning one’s will over to the care of a higher power. While the step reads like a big act of turning one’s will over, it is often the culmination of many small acts.

Examples of these can be going to a meeting, meeting with a sponsor, going to aftercare, etc when one does not exactly feel like it. Sometimes a good reference point for “God’s will” is simply the opposite of what our will is!

True Recovery


The key action behind the third step is simply willingness. The fact is, the only people who make it to a treatment center or the fellowship only do so if their life is unmanageable. With this knowledge in mind, one must only be willing to try a way different than that of their own self-will.

It is important to note that this step, like the program itself, is not going to be achieved to perfection. Surely no one is capable of this. Rather, the program suggests progress, not perfection.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.