Why does surrendering to a "doorknob" in 12 steps work?

In talking with some non-christians recently, we were discussing the 12 steps and several people said they have worked the 12 steps but don’t believe in God. Their higher power could be a doorknob or a group of friends. My question is, why does this sometimes work? Some people do overcome addictions when they work the 12 steps this way. Any thoughts?:

:shrug: I’d guess because they were willing to begin to relinquish a sinful and destructive way of life, which opens a door for God’s grace to begin to work.

However, it would be well for them if they could grow beyond that eventually and commit to a religion which will give them a fuller and truer picture of God, and that will provide moral discipline and intelligent theology for all areas of their lives.

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