Society sees the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as the Bible for anyone looking to recover from an addiction. The program has an estimated success rate of between 8% and 12% according to addiction specialists. Furthermore, AA has approximately 2 million members worldwide. Nonetheless, regardless of your thoughts on the program there are valuable lessons we can learn from their text. Above all, each step offers a different gift to an addict. In this series we take a subjective look explaining the benefit each step brings.
The Gift of Community
Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. The message of Step Twelve is to rinse, water, and repeat. More than anything the 12 Steps are about building habits, getting in the habit of doing the right thing, and the next right thing.
Simply put, the Twelve Steps are a treatment for the disease of addiction. A universal set of principles that incorporate religion, culture, and tradition into their objective. They serve as a todo list that when followed remove the obsession to consume from the mind of someone struggling, connect you with a spiritual presence, and show you how you can help others who struggle.
What this Teaches
Spiritual awakenings are incredible experiences, they come in fleeting moments where everything in life makes sense. It feels as though you see yourself on a path. With everything aligning just as it should for now and ever should have been. It feels like you experience eternity in a moment. Scott Jeffrey came up with a good definition: “Spiritual awakening, then, is an awakening of a dimension of reality beyond the confines of the ego. The ego is our exclusive sense of self or ‘I’. This awakening occurs when, for whatever reason, the ego somehow let’s go so that a Higher Self or Spiritcan arise within”. I’ve read that when these occur we’re removed from the obsession of the mind to drink and use. However, I don’t recall that being the case for me.
The Twelfth Step teaches us we need to be mindful of the work we’ve done, and that we need to be open to community when we see others suffering from addiction. This also teaches us the importance of repetition in our daily practices. We need to ensure these principles become ingrained in our lives in order to ensure our mental wellbeing.
Why This is Important
The second part of the Twelfth Step reads, “we tried to carry this message to alcoholics”. This is where the gift of community comes into play. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the primary function of 12-Step (for me at least) is the community the fellowship creates. As they say in AA “we keep what we have by giving it away”. When we allow ourselves to be available to work with others it changes us in the process. Part of the reason for this wording is that we are an inherently self-centered group of people, oftentimes we need to see the benefit for ourselves to get us to do something for someone else. Therefore, we don’t help other addicts because they’re sick, we do so because we’re sick. One of the steps to our wellness is helping others.
It’s interesting that most of these “gifts” are considered virtues. By practicing these Steps, or virtues, and learning the lessons they teach we grow both as a person and spiritually. The Twelve Steps aren’t the only means for a person to achieve sobriety. However, they are a means that anybody can implement to overcome addiction and, addict or not, to grow into the person they want to become.