For those in recovery programs, practicing Step 12 is simply "how it works," as the founders of the fellowship discovered for themselves in those early days.
Step 12As the history of Alcoholics Anonymous so clearly indicates, it was working with others who were still suffering that kept Bill W. and Dr. Bob sober. The same principle is true for all members of 12 step groups: "to keep it you have to give it away."
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.
In Al-Anon, the step reads try to carry the message to "others" and in A.A. is says to alcoholics. The principle is the same. In order to work all 12 of the steps, you must try to help others.
Carrying the message to others, by sharing experience, strength, and hope, reinforces the spiritual principle of the 12 steps in the person being 12-stepped as well as the one doing the sharing. It works for the stepper and the steppee!
If nobody was doing any 12 step work, the program would simply cease to exist. Without the service work of those who came before, none would be here now.
But Step 12 also admonishes members to put the spiritual growth they have found to work not only within the fellowship, but it all aspects of their lives -- to practice these principles in all our affairs. This too is doing 12 step "work" and makes the program work as one of attraction and not promotion.
Visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site in an on-going discussion on the bulletin board have shared some great personal stories about how the Step 12 has worked in their lives. Don't miss these:
More about Step 12
Saved My LifeIndex of 12 Steps and Traditions Study
"What he said to me that evening saved my life. That was REAL 12 step work."
"We have to live it before we can give it."
Do No Harm
"In short don't rescue the alcoholic it harms him/her in the long run."
It Works Online, Too
"I have found so many opportunities online to meet and greet newcomers, to do service work, and to listen and learn from others."