Step Twelve
Alcoholics Anonymous

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 big book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes the twelfth step as follows:

This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill. Pg 89

The twelfth step is the step that insures that we are staying spiritually fit. It is by working with others and showing others how to come into Gods grace, that God keeps us in His grace, safe and protected. This is the will of God that we should go out and teach others about Him and give them a chance to serve Him. No matter how bad our situation gets, as long as we are striving to serve God by helping His children, He will keep us at peace with serenity and we will be content with His mercy. Now in working with others there are some things that we should not do and things that we do as the situation might dictate. We are going to talk about some of the basic straight forward suggestions that apply at all times.

As always with all things: In meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter. The right answer will come, if we want it. Pg 69
We each have other recovered alcoholics that we know and their experience can also prove useful in different situations. But God is always, in all things, the deciding factor.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends - this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives. Pg 89 How true this is! Life does take on new meaning as you work with others. And it is the bright spot of our lives today, but know that it is not about numbers. It is not about how many people I help to recover or how big my fellowship may or may not get. It is about sowing the seeds of Gods grace and mercy. In His infinite wisdom God will provide. My job is to carry the message to the best of my ability and stay close to Him. That is it! That is my job.: Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Pg 63 Then and only then will He provide what we need.

It is easy when we first recover to go out and try to share this good news by trying to force our new lifestyle on others. Although it is something that we are doing out of love, or good motives, this is not going to bear any fruit. Unfortunately it seems as though almost everyone who has recovered goes through this period of spiritual growth. We go to meetings where we used to have an abundance of friends and try to share with them what happened to us, and the more we do the more we become outcasts. The more we try to lay the kit of spiritual tools at their feet and they resist, the more we become like the actor that is talked about on pages 60-62 of the basic text. We begin to learn that we must live by Gods principles and not by our good motives.: Once we find someone who is willing to listen to what we are saying about alcoholism just how do we go about being of help to them? When you discover a prospect for Alcoholics Anonymous, find out all you can about him. If he does not want to stop drinking, don't waste time trying to persuade him. You may spoil a later opportunity. This advice is given for his family also. They should be patient, realizing they are dealing with a sick person. Pg.90 It is easy to fall into wanting to hammer home the recovered lifestyle but if the individual does not want to stop drinking we should not waste our time with him. I am a recovered alcoholic and my time is much better spent talking with someone who wants to hear what I have to say, or relaxing at home with family or friends than talking on deaf ears.

Once I find someone who wants to know what I did to recover from alcoholism as I have come to understand it, as the pioneers have set forth in the big book, then it is time to go to work. The first thing that I must do is be a good listener. Once I have someone who wants to hear what I did to recover, I must find out everything that I can about him or her and their drinking or drugging or whatever main symptom brought them to the hopelessness of not knowing their Creator.: Get an idea of his behavior, his problems, his background, the seriousness of his condition, and his religious leanings. You need this information to put yourself in his place, to see how you would like him to approach you if the tables were turned. Pg 90 Once I know some about the hopelessness that they are experiencing I will know how to approach the situation. For the alcoholic it is the inability to stop or control the drinking that brings me to see the need to change my lifestyle. For the non-alcoholic it may be the anger, fear or depression. All the symptoms of the spiritual malady are the same. This should not be a sticking point for someone who has recovered. When speaking of the symptoms we will all be able to identify with each other. If the person that I am working with is not an alcoholic I can simply tell them, as I explain the way the drink brought me to my knees, to use whatever symptom brought them to where they see their own hopelessness. It will be identifying with all of the symptoms of the spiritual malady that will help you to gain the confidence of one who is not alcoholic but still suffers. The heart of the sick person will determine if they are ready to take what you offer. Remember the goal is not to shove them to some other person or group. THE GOAL IS TO LEAD THEM TO THEIR CREATOR!: See your man alone, if possible. At first engage in general conversation. After a while, turn the talk to some phase of drinking. Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself. If he wishes to talk, let him do so. You will thus get a better idea of how you ought to proceed. If he is not communicative, give him a sketch of your drinking career up to the time you quit. But say nothing, for the moment, of how that was accomplished. If he is in a serious mood dwell on the troubles liquor has caused you, being careful not to moralize or lecture. If his mood is light, tell him humorous stories of your escapades. Get him to tell some of his. Pg 91

Once I am sure that this person suffers from what is described in the basic text I am ready to move forward with being of help to them. I must stay focused on the hopelessness of alcoholism. If they are alcoholics I should pound home the mental obsession. I should show them in general how I could not stay away from the first drink no matter how much I wanted to.: If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic, begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. Show him, from your own experience, how the queer mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power. Don't, at this stage, refer to this book, unless he has seen it and wishes to discuss it. And be careful not to brand him as an alcoholic. Let him draw his own conclusion. If he sticks to the idea that he can still control his drinking, tell him that possibly he can - if he is not too alcoholic. But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself. Pg 92 If they are not physical alcoholics I should stick to the symptoms that lead to my drinking, the anger, fear, self-pity depression etc. and show them how it was my drinking that brought me to seeing my hopelessness. I will be showing the alcoholic this once they see the need to talk more anyway. With the nonalcoholic I am just skipping the drinking details. However I am in both cases showing them what leads me to my hopelessness, the selfish and self-centered behavior. I must continue to stress the fact that if they are as severely afflicted as I was there is very little hope that they will come to know a life that is filled with joy and peace without having help to get there.

Now once I have their attention and I am sure they are suffering from the same symptoms that I used to suffer from I must show them through my experience how this illness can actually kill and how I would have continued to suffer. They will begin to see our experiences with this illness in their own lives and will begin to identify with all the symptoms.: Continue to speak of alcoholism as an illness, a fatal malady. Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany it. Keep his attention focused mainly on your personal experience. Explain that many are doomed who never realize their predicament. Doctors are rightly loath to tell alcoholic patients the whole story unless it will serve some good purpose. But you may talk to him about the hopelessness of alcoholism because you offer a solution. You will soon have your friend admitting he has many, if not all, of the traits of the alcoholic. Pg 92

If the individual asks me what I did to get well I must tell them the truth! Tell them exactly what happened but don't soften the message one bit. If the man sees his hopelessness he will come to a point where he will be willing to believe in the Power of God. I should continue to tell them about how I came into a relationship with my Creator and that my own conception of God was where I started, but stress the fact that it is a conception of God, and not a god of my own conception! He can choose any conception he wants but it must be of God! The main thing is that they be willing to live by Gods principles.: Even though your protégé may not have entirely admitted his condition, he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question if he will. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles. Pg 92-93 Let them know that as they proceed with the process, if they see the need to, that they will come to understand who God is and will come to know Him, but the willingness to believe is where they make a beginning.

Spiritual principles that God has set forth in His word are not hard to convey to someone that does not know God or might not believe in God. There is nothing that I can say that is going to sway them. The big book sets forth Gods will in a way that is not hard for anyone to come to grips with if they are honest. Some people even try to make a religion out of the basic text without realizing that all the principles in it are biblical principles set forth by God! Tell them about how we should be treating our family and the people around us. How we need to be honest and caring in all our affairs, and how we need to be thinking about the welfare of others. These are the moral and philosophical convictions that all of us have tried to live up to but always ended up failing to do.: When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are. Pg 93

If the person I am talking with has some knowledge of the word of God or even has more knowledge than me I will not hide this fact, but I will be quick to point out to them that I am not suffering from the symptoms any longer as they still may be. I shouldn't do this in any way other than to state the fact. It may be that through my honesty they will not be pushed to a point where they will need to defend themselves with ego or self-centeredness and will come to see that they are really not practicing the principles that they know. We are not trying to bring anyone into any kind of religious practice, we are dealing with the word of God and that is it PERIOD. With Gods word, if it is not written in His word it doesn't mean anything, so it is with the big book, if it is not in the first 164 pages it doesn't hold any water.: Your prospect may belong to a religious denomination. His religious education and training may be far superior to yours. In that case he is going to wonder how you can add anything to what he already knows. But he will be curious to learn why his own convictions have not worked and why yours seem to work so well. He may be an example of the truth that faith alone is insufficient. To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. Let him see that you are not there to instruct him in religion. Admit that he probably knows more about it than you do, but call to his attention the fact that however deep his faith and knowledge, he could not have applied it or he would not drink. Perhaps your story will help him see where he has failed to practice the very precepts he knows so well. We represent no particular faith or denomination. We are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations. Pg 93-94

I am not going to be preaching to them but rather telling them what I did to have a spiritual experience. How I came to begin to serve God and in so doing had my alcoholic problem removed. I should tell them about the program of action but not go into detail. I should tell them how important it is to be of help to others even when it means to place their needs before my own needs, and that they don't owe me anything but that they must work with others as I am working with them.: Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him. Make it plain he is under no obligation to you, that you hope only that he will try to help other alcoholics when he escapes his own difficulties. Suggest how important it is that he place the welfare of other people ahead of his own. Pg 94

I must make it clear to them that they are not bound to be working with me and at any time they want they can go their own way. They will not come to find God if they are forced into the step work. We know that the steps have no power. They must be willingly and honestly seeking a relationship with their Creator. All I am doing is sowing the seeds of Gods mercy. If they are not willing to embrace that then they may need to suffer some more. But maybe I have disturbed them by telling them the truth. This is good as they may begin to take an honest look at what is going on with themselves and they may see the need to talk with you further down the road.: Make it clear that he is not under pressure, that he needn't see you again if he doesn't want to. You should not be offended if he wants to call it off, for he has helped you more than you have helped him. If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have perhaps made a friend. Maybe you have disturbed him about the question of alcoholism. This is all to the good. The more hopeless he feels, the better. He will be more likely to follow your suggestions. Pg 94

I must remember that I am not trying to recruit anyone into our way of living. All I am doing is telling them what I suffered from and telling them what I did to get well. If they want I will be willing to help them by showing them what I did and I am willing to help in any way that I can. This may require picking them up or meeting them at their convenience. Sometimes it will mean long hours on the phone or writing letters etc. I should let them know that I am willing to do whatever it takes to show them what I did if they are willing to follow directions.: You will be most successful with alcoholics if you do not exhibit any passion for crusade or reform. Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you. Offer him friendship and fellowship. Tell him that if he wants to get well you will do anything to help. Pg 95

Remember that they don't have anything to offer me! I am the recovered alcoholic and they are untreated. If they are not interested in following directions they should be sent on their way with as much love and understanding as the situation may dictate. I am not here to help them with anything except finding the solution that has set me free.: If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or a nurse for his sprees, you may have to drop him until he changes his mind. This he may do after he gets hurt some more. Pg 95

When someone is interested in what I have to offer I should have them read the basic text from the beginning. As we start to talk about alcoholism we will be going to the book quite often and they should be familiar with it's text. They don't need to understand it as I will be explaining what the pioneers are talking about as we continue through the process of the step work. I must remember that I should not push them along as it is their heart that must be right if they are to come into a relationship with God.: If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within. Pg 95

The steps is not the only method by which an individual can come into a relationship with God. I know that for me the steps were the last resort, I had tried everything and had no where left to turn, nothing left to try. The Power of God is not limited to the steps and if the person I am talking to decides to try something else to solve the problem then they should be encouraged to do so, as long as they put every thing that they have into trying to make it work. Encourage them to give it their all. I can only show them what worked for me.: If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us. Pg 95

Most people do not want to hear what we, as recovered alcoholics, have to offer. I can't be down because people don't want to hear the true message. I must continue to carry the message so that the truth is put out. Most AA meetings never even touch on the truth behind the steps. I am sure to find someone who is as sick and hopeless as I once was, if I stay diligent in carrying this message. I can't spend too much time chasing one person but I must always leave the door open to the fact that their condition will get worse, as mine did, and they will come to see the need for what I have to offer.: Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy. Pg 96

Once I have a person who is ready to make a decision and proceed with the program of action I should always be ready to guide them in all aspects of the step work. I am not trying to manage their lives or give them advise on what I think they need to do. I must show them what I did by giving them the directions that were given to me. As I continue to grow spiritually I may see the opportunity to make things easier on the person taking the steps and be able to help them with certain situations, but all directions must come from the basic text. Of course as a recovered alcoholic I know what the basic text means and where it came from and the bible is instrumental in making clear the principles that the big book has borrowed from it.: Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery. Having had the experience yourself, you can give him much practical advice. Let him know you are available if he wishes to make a decision and tell his story, but do not insist upon it if he prefers to consult someone else. Pg 96

As I search out people to be helpful to I will come across all kinds of situations and I must be of help as best I can when situation warrants the assistance that I am able to provide. As I grow spiritually and depend on my prayer and meditation life I will begin to know how to handle each situation as it presents itself. I am also sure to make mistakes but God will provide as long as I am doing my best to do His will. I will also be put in all sorts of different situations and I must be willing to meet these challenges every day. These will not always be things that I will want to deal with but they are necessary if I am to live this way of life. I am now on the front lines of this spiritual warfare and I am one of Gods soldiers who must go out and battle to help others come to Him. It is one of the prices that I now pay to be in the position where I am safe and protected.: He may be broke and homeless. If he is, you might try to help him about getting a job, or give him a little financial assistance. But you should not deprive your family or creditors of money they should have. Perhaps you will want to take the man into your home for a few days. But be sure you use discretion. Be certain he will be welcomed by your family, and that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him. You will be making it possible for him to be insincere. You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery. Never avoid these responsibilities, but be sure you are doing the right thing if you assume them. Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights' sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic wives and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night. Your wife may sometimes say she is neglected. A drunk may smash the furniture in your home, or burn a mattress. You may have to fight with him if he is violent. Sometimes you will have to call a doctor and administer sedatives under his direction. Another time you may have to send for the police or an ambulance. Occasionally you will have to meet such conditions. Pg 96-97

If the alcoholic does not want help or refuses to quit drinking I may be able to help the family. Remember that drinking is not the problem and we all can suffer from the spiritual malady. We should always be ready to show the alcoholics family what we did to come into a relationship with our Creator.: Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family. You should continue to be friendly to them. The family should be offered your way of life. Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable. Pg 97

I once had a friend tell me that when working with someone who is willing to follow your directions you will be on top of the world when you are done meeting with them. If you meet with someone who is not ready or willing you will be physically and mentally drained. I have found this to be true.: Not much is needed for the person who is truly seeking God. For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted. Pg 97-98
I did not need much other than the guidance of a recovered alcoholic to get well and that will be sufficient for the untreated alcoholic who I am working with. As long as they are clamoring for worldly things they just will not get well. There are some basic necessities that I must have such as food and shelter but other material things are not a requirement to recover. I must emphasize to them that they can and will get well if they trust in God and repent for the way they lived their lives.: It is not the matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give. That often makes the difference between failure and success. The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job - wife or no wife - we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.
Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.
Pg 98

No matter what has happened in the past or what happens in the future, as long as the individual is willing to work on coming into a relationship with God they can recover.: Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back. This just isn't so. In some cases the wife will never come back for one reason or another. Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. Pg 99-100

Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.
We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.
Pg 100-101 Now we have all heard some absolute nonsense at AA meetings. Our lives now should be no different then they were before we became alcoholics in regards to where we go and what we do in society today. We should not be treated any different than anyone who drinks and is not alcoholic. God has removed our problem and placed us in a position where we are safe and protected. If I am not in this position than I still suffer from the spiritual malady and have not recovered.: So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn't. Pg 101

My job now requires that I go to places that I used to go and even some that I never even dreamed I would go. I must never balk at going to a place where I may be of help to others.: Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed. Pg 102
We have touched, in brief, on how to be of help to others. The pioneers gave us more in the basic text and God is constantly showing us more as we grow spiritually. The one thing that we can be sure of is that if we are seeking to do what God would have us do we will always be guided by Him to help others and will be kept safe and protected. I must constantly be living my life, to the best of my ability, in steps ten-twelve. Of course this goes beyond working with others.

I must at all times strive to be seeking Gods will and applying that to my daily living. When I see what God would have me do I need to respond by following His guidelines in each situation. I must continue to read His word and seek through prayer and meditation to be given understanding of His word. Of course I must be taught His word by someone who has understanding just as I was taught the step work by someone who was qualified to teach us.

Only truth has depth and weight. When Gods word is approached without prejudice and with the willingness to learn the truth God opens the doors to our understanding so that we might become heirs to salvation. Just like becoming recovered these doors are opened to all who diligently seek Him. This web site contains studies that are essential to understanding Gods will. My hope is that you might be given what was so freely given me.
Grace and peace to all who seek to serve Him! In Jesus name, amen.