12th Step Work
Share experiences and questions around 12th Step work!
I know these questions have been asked an infinite amount of times and will continue to be asked but can someone please shed some light on these questions as I am really trying to understand how this works. Thanks
If we are powerless over alcohol what other parts of our lives might we be powerless over. After all if I am powerless over alcohol is that not the same as saying I am powerless over my entire life, absolutely all of it?
If I am to pray to God to restore me to sanity I have to ask why did God allow me to lose my sanity in the first place? I am praying only for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out, but was it not his will for me to be an alcoholic and I was carrying that out. And if God and His will want me to stop drinking then I will stop drinking because it is his will, I have nothing to do with it because I am powerless.
Life is out of our control is the bottom line here. If you can help me make sense of this I would appreciate it. I know these questions are always asked maybe just steer me to a place where I can find the answers if there are any!
Coming in to this world opens me up to anything the world can throw at me; any disease, accident, condition, circumstance...I don't put any of it on a Higher Power.
By drinking alcohol, I took a chance that I'd be in that minority of people who lose the ability to control how much and how often they drink. I lost that bet and was dying. Was there anything I could do about it?
The physical craving part of alcoholism is easy. Just don't drink. The tricky part is the mental obsession that says, "drink". The founders of AA learned that a "spiritual awakening" could banish the obsession. I tried it. It worked. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
There seems to be a Power available to me of which I was unaware that can restore me to a state of sanity in regards to drink. I am not certain how it works but it works; as long as I continue to seek it out, employ it in my life and share it with others.
Life is a topsy turvy ride no matter where you're standing. Asking too many questions and trying to figure things out only complicates things. I love the new buzz phrase, " it is what it is". Simplify. Don't try to figure everything out. If you know you have a problem controllung your drinking then do not drink. If you have difficulty STAYING sober then go to meetings and listen. We complicate everything. Just keep going to meetings, call people, get a service job, and welcome the newcomer. Simplify and don't give up before the miracle happens. You're not alone- when do you go to your next meeting?? Peace to you on your journey~
he steps are in order for a reason a road map to recover.
Good questions! I'll answer from my experience. I'm an alcoholic, left to my own devices, I'm powerless over alcohol - if I drink (phenomenon of craving) and without the AA program, I think it's ok to drink when I'm sober (mental obsession). I have heard people say they are powerless over people, places, and things - I'm not. I'm not codependent - if I don't want someone in my life, I take them out of my life. If someplace causes disturbances in my life, I don't go there. If something besides alcohol causes problems, I stop, therfore I am not powerless. Now if I have a gambling, sex, drug, ect problem I may be powerless over those things.
Now about God's will - I don't know God's will, all I can do is try to live the way I think God would want me. I believe God gave us self will so we could choose to follow God's will. I believe in this world there is God's will and each persons self-will. Your self will may effect me, or vice versa. That could be good or bad. Alcohol took away my freedom of choice, that's why I think alcoholism is so deadly. I can't do God's will and my God given ability to choose God's will is taken away. When I finally surrender and become willing, the gift of choosing what I think God's will is has given me gifts beyond description. When selfishness returns, I pay the price. So this journey is a Ying and yang of doing God's will and feeling those blessings then doing my will and paying those consequences. At least that's my experience.
On my way home from work last Thursday I got a 12 step call. Daily vodka drinker who said he was ready to do anything to get sober.
I picked him up at 7:30. He hadn't had a drink since 10:00 am. On the way to my home group we stopped for a pint so he could tapper off. After the meeting we went back to get his alcoholic suitcase (garbage bag) then off to detox where he could be medically supervised through withdrawl. I visited him Friday and he was willing to take the steps, Saturday we did steps 1,2,3 and discussed 4-11
He did his 4th step Sunday and I met him Monday for steps 5-12. That's 12 steps in 3 days, which in my opinion was 1 day too long. Now he will join our group for a lifetime of stuffing and applying the 12 steps and 12 traditions.
This method works, I've been doing it this way for over 2 decades without one failure. This was the 5th newcomer this year to take the steps straight from the big book- or as I like to say "literally". Our group will soon have to split because of too many recoveries!
I take people through the 12 steps in about 6 days directly from the Big Book but I don't have the recovery rate you are having. Will you show me what you do?
no problem, have the site administrator give you my contact information or ask them to give me yours
I contacted the administrator, which forwarded my request to the editor; they replied back and said you will need to send them your contact information...lol
If you can stop in at aaonline.org. Between November 2 to December 7th, I am in service at the Sunday 6:30pm EST meeting. I get there at 6pm. Just ask for Kelley247. Probably will be easier to contact each other that way.
Oops, I got my dates wrong. I am at aaonline.org for the Sunday 6:30 EST meeting on November 9th,16th,23rd and 30th. You will find me there as username: tyg
Wow. That is impressive. I don't hear stories like this anymore. I think this is how our founders did it, though. They just got to it and didn't mess around. Maybe we're tip toeing around the steps too much nowadays.
I lurked around AA for 3 months and nearly drank again before getting a sponsor who took me through 12 steps in 8 months. By today's standards, that seems fast but is nowhere near your pace.
My 4th step took the longest, about 3 months. How do you get your guys through the 4th so fast? Do you use the 10th for things they might have missed? Also, how do your people make their amends in such a short period of time?
Thanks for any tips and clarification you can provide. I'd like to learn more.
I feel if we take more than 2 days, we r taking too long. Read bill's story pages 12-14. U can see on page 13 how bill did steps 3-11 while in detox.
Read step 10, big book page 84. Steps 2-12 are in the 1st paragraph - it's almost too simple too comprehend! Notice it says "we vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past" u work on amends as u work 10-12. Actually the day u do step 5, u should be on 10,11, & 12 by the end of that day. We have the rest of our lives to practice the steps.
And yes, what we miss in step for is taken care of in 10. 10 says "continue to take inventory", not start - we started in step 4. Note on page 84 "continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, & fear - just like the my part from step 4 on page 67 where it says "referring to our list....."
We can't post emails or phone numbers here, but if you ask the editor, they can forward your email to me and we can discuss this further.
Thanks for your response. A young lady shared at a meeting yesterday that she quickly worked 1-4 then sat on her 4th for a year and was miserable. I hear lots of stories like that. Or others where folks just avoid the steps completely until they are ready to drink or die.
I'd like to learn more.
Hi I am just listening.
I prefer meetings that end with a simple prayer and nothing more. I recently attended a meeting after being away for 12 years and was somewhat taken aback by the phrase "so work it you're worth it" at the end. Why is that necessary? I know someone somewhere thought it was a clever saying, and it caught on for a reason. Hopefully the group conscience decided it was a good thing to add and was not the result of people just not wishing to make waves. Anyway I have personally decided to skip out of the closing of any meeting I attend because of the phrase.
I'll admit, when I came into A.A., this was always done at the end of meetings I attended. I never gave it much thought for many a year. Occasionally I came across someone who didn't participate, or even was more vocal about their disapproval of it. Mostly, I scoffed and moved on.
Over the years however, I participated in other levels of service, and started helping with a meeting behind the walls of a prison. Obviously, they are autonomous too, but they had several chants and catch phrases they incorporated after the prayer, as well as other readings. I saw how others could see the addition as a bit offensive, or from a milder perspective, at least a bit hokey.
I met a group that didn't do it, and although odd at first, I really came to like it. At the close of the meeting, I still hold hands with other members, I just don't say the "Works If You Work It". Over time, I've noticed more and more of our group not participating in it. Depending upon the meeting, it even becomes a bit awkward for those that do. Sometimes people will ask me why I don't say it, and I compassionately explain my stance. When I attend other places that do it, I can still be a part of the unity without having to hop in on the chanting.
It's obviously your right to not participate in the closing of meetings if you so choose, but I thought I'd offer my experience of how I dealt with it, as well as the positive results that have came from my actions. Have a great day.
Thanks for your share. I stop at amen. Although I am not a Christian I understand that about 800 million followers believe that the Lord's Prayer was handed down from God Himself about two thousand years ago. It remained unchanged until a few years ago when some alcoholics got the idea that it wasn't good enough and needed to be improved and who better than themselves to do it.
I'm afraid I can't be as polite as you on the subject and have explained my thinking openly several times. If chairing a meeting I sometimes announce that we will close the meeting with the NEW AND IMPROVED Lord's Prayer so feel free to add whatever that you think it's lacking after the amen.
Unity is one of our greatest assets in AA. By using a prayer so strongly identified with Christianity we are giving the impression that AA is a Christian organization. In the beginnings the members were, no doubt, mainly Christian but AA has grown enormously since then and includes people of many faiths and none. I was distressed when the Lord's Prayer was used at the Seattle International Convention. I felt excluded. There are parts of the prayer I find to be incomprehensible and therefore lacking in meaning to me. I wish that meetings would close with another moment of silence for individual prayer or none and I would so much appreciate a lack of chanting and having my unwilling arms pumped up and down. There are those who obviously enjoy that. I feel it makes us look juvenile.
I was out of town and on vacation recently for a week. While out, I found a local meeting schedule. I like the Closed Big Book meeting types and I found one on Tuesday Night.
I got there early, helped set up a few chairs and talk to the coffee maker guy. Before the meeting started, I met a couple there - they looked pretty new and sure enough - the man was 'there to support his wife' and she was at her first AA meeting. I talked to them and got a little of their history and they seem like really great people.
The person chairing the meeting introduced himself as an 'Addict' only and announced this was a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Everyone went around and introduced themselves and almost half the people there introduced themselves as an 'alcoholic'.
I really hoped to attend a closed meeting that night and I had hoped I could find someone to help.
What should/could I have done besides just get up and leave?
I would like to thank you for not doing the "just
get up and leave" (voting with your feet). In my opinion
most A.A. members who are offended by today's A.A. don't
actually get up and leave. They just don't come back.
A few years ago a couple came to our step meeting with
a small child. The wife is alcoholic, and the husband non-alcoholic, came to support her. The child was well behaved.
It is a closed A.A. meeting. When they appeared the second week, one of our old timers explained our principle of anonymity,and our policy of Closed Meetings.
I was not bold enough to speak up, but I was grateful that
someone did. "Let someone else be the bad guy".
I am also a member of O.A. Overeaters Anonymous, but I
do not identify myself as an alcoholic and a food addict.
The fellowships work well side by side. When we combine
them EVERYONE loses. ANONYMOUS
I hear two things here, one, a concern about a visitor to a closed meeting, and two, a concern about Singleness of Purpose. (addict)
First, at the beginning if I had the chance, I might have asked a group member what the group process is when someone self-identifies as a visitor/ supporter, presumably without a desire to stop drinking.
Second, I hope I would have simply been able to enjoy and appreciate the meeting. It's not my home group, and I am simply a visitor. If I had a concern that someone not identify as an 'addict', and rather self-identify as 'alcoholic,' I might have remembered the Third Tradition that says "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."
Addicts can have a desire to stop drinking! They don't have to say the word 'alcoholic' for us.
Introducing yourself as an addict at an AA meeting just might be confusing to newcomers who are not aware of our third Tradition. In other words, it may not be helpful to people who have come to AA looking for a solution to their alcoholism. I came into AA many years ago and alcoholism was what we shared on. If I was coming in today I just might leave because I would have no identification with addicts or drugs. Again, it's a question of helping the newcomer alcoholic. It doesn't matter what other troubles anyone may have in AA but it seems to me more helpful and more respectful to stick to our singleness of purpose which is recovery from alcoholism.
I don't react the same way each time. Sometimes I talk to the chairperson after the meeting, sometimes I ask if the have a group conscience meeting to discuss changing their status to "open" on the schedule, sometime I talk about tradition 1,3, and 5 emphasizing on singleness of purpose. Sometime a share from the AA pamphlets "the group& problems other than alcohol" where AA information is stated regarding dual purpose groups. Other times I share how GSo dosent list dual purpose groups in the AA directory and how even though each group is autonomous, we shouldn't use that as a loophole to ignore 3 other traditions.
most importantly, I try to convey AA information from AA liturature with tact in a helpful and informative manner.
You are attending an AA meeting and before the meeting starts, a person you've never seen before walks right up to you and says, "This is my first AA meeting. I think I might be an alcoholic."
What important words do you say to this person?
I normally am as excited to see a newcomer as I was when I first began learning about Alcoholics Anonymous and service work, such as, home group commitments and hearing a sponsor say, "Stay inside the middle of the pack." It was that time when not being able to truly and fully comprehend how important it is to pick up already smoked cigarettes from the Alcoholics Anonymous home group meeting sight(s) because my sponsor asked me to. This is if I could not get a commitment at my home group. I still realize I am able to display the same excitement and take the same action. Never give that away, it is adoring and precious. The next think that happens is someone who did not know anything or a uncomfortable retread becomes more active inside of Alcoholics Anonymous. You know he is more active because last week you see him/her wanting to speak with more people or speaking with more people because of your example. Especially after a resentment is formed because you recognized he/she can actually become a nice part of Alcoholics Anonymous and you know inside your heart, as you read this share, that this derives from newcomers who look more difficult to speak with.
When I am at my homegroup meeting, I look for people I have never seen before. when I see one, I walk up to them, introduce myself and introduce them to others in the group. If it's there first meeting ever, I explain the format of the meeting briefly. then we have our meeting topic from the big book chapter "more about alcoholism" we go around the room and focus on alcoholism and recovery from alcoholism.
After the meeting we talk before he leaves (I can talk to my friends after the newcomers leave)I ask what they think about the meeting, offer fellowship and friendship, give them a big book and ask if there interested to read it, I give them a meeting list and suggest going to several different meetings until they find one that fits. After that, it's up to them and God what comes next. Often they come back (sometimes after a year or two) and ask to be sponsored and taken through the steps. No pushing or prodding, just laying it out for them.
I am just listening have a great day.
Only one in three of those alcoholics attending meetings stay sober. And approx 40% of those who stay sober for a year will only stay active within the program for another year or better. It is said been said that many of us do not have another recovery in us. Is there reason to be hopful?
My take is that it's none of my business how many people stay sober or what their odds of success might be. My business is to work the program of AA that was freely given to me and to offer it to others. The goal is not to get them sober but to keep me sober. I keep my sobriety by giving it away.
Today, unlike the old days, it is quite possible that we see many people come to AA before they are ready. Thanks to treatment, courts and our growing awareness of alcoholism, interventions start early and occur frequently. There has also been a great proliferation of meetings. It is much easier today for a person to find and get to a meeting. Thus, we probably see a greater number of people who drop in and out.
These are probably good developments that give people a chance to recover earlier. It also means many people who come to AA these days just may not be ready. Unfortunately, nothing prepares a person for the surrender of the first step like alcohol. I have to accept this and let the process take its course. If and when they come back, I hope to still be here ready to help.
you summed up my experience with AA perfectly. Alcoholism is a tough disease to deal with. It's really shocking to compare the progress in other fields since 1935. If anyone has come up with anything better than AA's program they are sure keeping it a secret.
This message is the epitome of selfishness. It is very
much our business how many people stay sober or what their
odds of success may be. We have a moral obligation to know
whether what we are doing is working or not. If it is not
working, why isn't it working? Why must we always blame
the patient when the medicine we administer fails. We
need to change the medicine/technique.
Sure, we can rationalize and say Well, they are just
not ready. How ready do they have to be? Who judges when
they are ready? Most of the alcoholics approaching us
are about as ready as they will ever be. We ought to
help the rest to become ready. Sure, some are just too
sick, and it is too late. Some of these would have
made it if we had reached them earlier. And there are
those few who are coerced into A.A. by the courts, but
in my experience, many of them are saved.
If and when they come back? In most cases we do not
get a second chance to make a first impression. ANONYMOUS
"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics." (Mark Twain)
It seems to me Bill W was unsuccessful when he tied to preach salvation to his fellow drunks, had more success when he stuck with sharing his own experience, strength, and hope: those who wanted sobriety and embraced the program tended to be successful, those who still thought they could exercise self-control tended not to be. What works for one may not work for another, what worked for me today may not work tomorrow. If you keep changing the "medicine/technique" as you put it, that which you changed from my be the very thing the next person needs. I go back to what a wise man here once said when asked "how does AA work" -- "Very well." So I trust in the program without trying to describe, define, or otherwise figure out why it works. It has worked for me very well, and I'll thank you for not changing it.
I ask you to read, study and try to understand what
Bill W. is trying to tell us in 1961. Bill writes in
The AA Way of Life, "As Bill sees It". page 199. The
page may be different, but the title of the article is
"Arrogance and its Opposite". Pride and lack of humility
have become AA's deadly enemy. ANONYMOUS
Well, since AA does no research on its members, I don't know where you are getting these numbers. What does it mean when you say people do not have another recovery in them? Is there an internal counter that determines the number of times someone may recover? My rule of thumb is that anything heard in meetings about alcoholism or recovery from a medical standpoint is a personal opinion by a non-professional and, as such, should not be relied on or repeated as established fact.
I guess the old saying is true, " you don't know what you don't know" every 5 years or so, AA does a membership survey. for the latest AA membership survey from 2011, go to http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-48_membershipsurvey.pdf
keep coming back, it works!
I had a discussion with the counselor of a very bright young man in treatment, who read somewhere of the dismal recovery statistics of treatment centers (5% manage to stay sober without relapse in first year, or something like that). I suggested the young man be told that since he invariably scores within the top 3 - 5 % in the country on standardized tests, he should feel confident about being one of the fortunate 5% who stay sober. Conversely, I figured I would use all my mental acumen to figure AA out in record time, only to overhear a couple of veterans suggest I had a chance if I "didn't over-think this thing." I will never know what will work for any individual until after it has. That it worked for one does not mean it will work for the next. I am of the opinion that the only way to figure out what works for you is to sit in meetings and listen to what others do to stay sober (not what they tell you to do to stay sober or what they claim is THE WAY), read whatever approved and unapproved literature on recovery floats your boat (or not), and let it happen.
I believe that if we just let it happen, it WILL happen.
And the happening is the greatest gift ever received by
a suffering alcoholic: A spiritual awakening, with all its
The message of Alcoholics Anonymous is passed on
by the A.A. GROUP, not the individual member. This is
simply stated in Tradition Five.
"If you want what we have" becomes "if you want what I
have, then you will have to do what I did, and I will tell
you HOW TO DO IT".
Bill W. offers an important explanation of this approach
in a Grapevine article September 1945: 'Rules' Dangerous
but Unity Vital.
We have made many mistakes. Bill called them blunders.
Bill had terrific insight. He wrote about our many mistakes,
some before we even actually committed them. ANONYMOUS
We do have reason to be hopeful !!! At my homegroup, we discuss one tradition or part of a pamphlet, followed by big book discussion. Prior to the meeting each week, some of us speak at the local detox. We encourage working the steps out of the big book, sponsorship, and homegroup membership. Two months ago we started a second meeting. We have 2 enthusiastic newcomers that have joined our group. It they do the work from the book the way the rest of us have, they will also recover.
There is a question I ask each time I am at the treatment center or detox sharing. I ask who here had a sponsor and worked the steps from the big book with that sponsor and regularly attend their home group meeting. In 20 plus years, I have never heard a relapser say yes to that question. So the answer is in the question. Get a sponsor, work the steps from the big book with that sponsor and get a home group and attend.
I've found that the simple sayings serve me and many I know. A day at a time seems trite to some, but I find it a relief that my responsibility is just for today. The other principles are simple and easy to follow when I don't complicate them and get out of the way. And then the faith vs fear conversation keeps me focused on the spiritual parts of my program. The obsession is removed for most alcoholics who do the work that a program requires. Then for me there are only thoughts and reminders, not the do or die compulsion that I used to have.
During my seven years of sobriety, I find that is getting easier to "practice these principles in all my affairs" when I help a newcomer or give a friend a ride to a meeting, among other things. It comes naturally to me today to admire a newcomer for their courage and strength to take that first step and admit complete defeat to alcohol. When I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem, I ran home on my lunch hour and opened the yellow pages and contacted AA. The angel on the phone immediately found a meeting for me close by and that was my first step to recovery. My daily meetings to this day keep me humble and remind me I am one drink away from going right back right to the loser that I was. Knowing people like me can help people like the person I used to be in my twelfth step makes this program so valuable to me. I changed and was probably the biggest long shot because I never would admit I had a problem and really still can't believe nothing today would make me pick up a drink. I know in my heart the AA program works and I strive to this day to be an example to those who still suffer all over the world. I beam with pride when I hear the accomplishments of a newcomer in the program because I know in my heart they are well on their way to a better and more productive life without alcohol. Anything I can do to help them achieve and, most importantly, maintain their sobriety is what 12th step work is all about.
RE: I have been sober for over a year but have not completed my steps. I am still working with my own sponsor on my own steps. I am currently out of the United States & a girl who is a new comer needs a sponsor. I had a male tell me to sponsor her even though I have not finished my steps. He says I can help her with the steps I have done. That was my reason for the question about being a sponsor even though I have not finished my steps.
that's what sponses can do. the get YOU into the steps!
It is not a good idea to sponsor folks of the opposite sex when you may develop sexual motives. If your own character defects in the sexual area have not been examined and removed one day at a time, you are not safe in sponsoring a woman. Neither of you is safe. Sponsor/sponsee is a very intimate relationship with closeness that men and women do not usually develop without sex.
Can anyone give me some advice about being a sponsor. Has anyone ever sponsored someone else even though they have not completed the steps.
I always have to remind myself that helping others (being a sponsor) is about saving my butt, not yours. Our founder, Bill, worked with a lot of folks who did not stay sober - but HE did. My job is to be willing, able and ready to help others by sharing my experience, strength and hope. What can I honestly share with another member? Even if I have only one day sober in the program, there are lots of ways I can help. I can share my story of how I got to AA, make coffee, clean up, put away chairs...One of the best ways I can help another alcoholic is by asking for help and giving that alcoholic the opportunity to be of service.
There is a very important line in our readings.
It says "We can not transmit what we haven't got."
If we don't have experience in working the steps, we can't sponsor someone else through the steps.
Sponsorship is helping someone go through the steps using our own EXPERIENCE in working the 12 steps, We can only share whatever STRENGTH the Higher Power has given us as the result, and the HOPE of gaining a deeper relationship with the Higher Power as we humbly stand by with another Alcoholic seeking the same blessings that we have been given as the result of deep and humble step work.
I hope that you are given the willingness to work the steps with your own sponsor.
Any alcoholic who has achieved even a few days of recovery can give hope to another that they too can do the same. The 12th Step says " Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these Steps we carried this message to alcoholics..."
That seems plain to me that if I have not had that spiritual experience maybe I should leave it to someone who has to carry the message. The whole message.
"We can not transmit what we haven't got". I question this
statement. The AA member who took me to my first AA meeting
was not sober and never achieved sobriety, It seems he was
working step twelve, at least part of it, for which I am grateful.
Bill wrote about sponsorship. On page 52 in The Language of the Heart, May 1947 Grapevine article Bill writes about the idea of "sponsorship". Bill writes; Each newcomer is
assigned a reasonably stable AA member whose ward he becomes during his BRIEF period of introduction to our
way of life. The sponsor helps make hospital arrangements,
takes his man there, visits him frequently, and sees that he is visited by other AAs whose experience might be
Our position as sponsor has been diminished and IMO ought to be abolished. I believe we ought to encourage our AA newcomers to develop dependence on a Higher Power who is
not a fallible human being. Dependence on God or a group
of recovering AA members is just safer. ANONYMOUS
""We can not transmit what we haven't got". I question this
statement. The AA member who took me to my first AA meeting
was not sober and never achieved sobriety, It seems he was
working step twelve, at least part of it, for which I am grateful."
The only thing that member transmitted to you was where a meeting was being held. A cab driver can do the same thing, would you call him a sponsor?
That being said, I agree with most of your final paragraph. Rather than trying to abolish sponsorship we must let newcomers know that modern sponsorship has little to do with AA's program of recovery. I pass on what Leo R. posted to the Grapevine, when a sponsor tells you to do something, as him/her to show you where it is in the AA literature. Perhaps if we can get this message across AA will once again have true sponsorship.
"here are the steps WE took which are suggested as a program of recovery "
this is part of the big book chapter "how it works " it's called how it works for a reason, because it is how it works.
if you haven't worked AA 's program of recovery, you don't have AA 's message to carry.
the solution is simple, get a big book and do what it says. then you will no longer have to ask how to carry the message.
sounds like your ready to be part of the solution, great to hear.
there is a reason AA has 2.1 million members in 2013 & had 2.4 million. in 1992. the further we get away from "ho
w it works, the less it works.
good luck and God bless you,