Comments from Web Sites and Publications
Step 12 gives me the satisfaction of helping others. I am uniquely suited to
help others that have suffered the same addiction as I have suffered with. Although
I did not plan on being in the role of the recovering addict, I find myself
in that role because of the choices that I have made. It now becomes my duty
as well as my joy and privilege to find others suffering in a similar way and
to help them in the best way that I know how. It completes the cycle of life
and I get to play a wonderful part in it.
- From 12Step.org
The joy of living is the theme of A.A.'s Twelfth Step, and action is its key word.
Here we turn outward toward our fellow alcoholics who are still in distress. Here
we experience the kind of giving that asks no rewards. Here we begin to practice all
Twelve Steps of the program in our daily lives so that we and those about us may find
emotional sobriety. When the Twelfth Step is seen in all its full implication, it is
really talking about the kind of love that has no price tag on it.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 106
The selfless service of this work is the very principle of Step Twelve. We received our recovery
from the God of our understanding, so we now make ourselves available as His tool to share recovery
with those who seek it. Most of us learn in time that we can only carry our message to someone
who is asking for help. Sometimes the only message necessary to make the suffering addict reach
out is the power of example. An addict may be suffering but unwilling to ask for help. We can make
ourselves available to these people, so that when they ask, someone will be there.
Learning the art of helping others when it is appropriate is a benefit of the N.A. Program.
Remarkably, the Twelve Steps guide us from humiliation and despair to a state wherein we may act
as instruments of our Higher Power. We are given the ability to help a fellow addict when no one
else can. We see it happening among us every day. This miraculous turnabout is evidence of spiritual
awakening. We share from our own personal experience what it has been like for us. The temptation
to give advice is great, but when we do so we lose the respect of newcomers. This clouds our message.
A simple, honest message of recovery from addiction rings true.
- Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text, Chapter 4/Step 12
Helping others is a significant part of the program, and there are many ways the program
gets passed on. When you live the program and share it with others, you are carrying the message,
especially when you sponsor new members. In practicing the Twelfth Step you will find that -
- A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Steps, by Patrick Carnes, p. 197
- By witnessing to others, your appreciation of the program and the program's impact on
your life deepens.
- By hearing the stories of new members, you are reminded of where you were when you started.
- By modeling to others, you become aware that you need to practice what you preach.
- By giving to others, you develop bonds with new people who really need you
- By helping others, you give what you have received.
- By supporting new beginnings, you revitalize your own efforts.
Although we enter recovery to heal a particular affliction, we find that, in the end, we have
received far more than a specific healing of an addiction; we have received the gift of a
profound spiritual awakening...
The second phrase in Step 12 reads: "we tried to carry this message to others." Twelve Step programs
place great emphasis on outreach to those who still suffer. Another oral tradition says, "You can't
keep it unless you give it away." Having received healing and spiritual renewal, we can retain
them only as we offer them to others...
On a practical level, psychologists have long believed that there is a special capacity for
empathy between persons who have shared the same addictions. That is why Bill Wilson encouraged
alcoholics to help other alcoholics, and it is also why we now have such a proliferation of recovery
support groups for different dependencies. Again, the premise is that people who have suffered from
an addiction and have found spiritual healing from it are in better positions to understand and help
others with similar problems.
- Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 76,77
Step Twelve is considered to be so important that it takes up much more space in the literature
than any other step. It's almost three steps in one. I have divided it into three parts to look
at in this chapter.
Having had a spiritual awakening...
We tried to carry the message to others...
And to practice these principles in all our affairs.
1... In the Twelve Step community the word spiritual usually doesn't mean the same thing as the
word religious. For many, spiritual refers to being in touch with and living on the basis of
"reality". A spiritual woman, for instance, would be in touch with her own reality, her own feelings,
her own controlling and diseased behaviors and character defects as well as her own preciousness and
gifts. She would be in touch with the reality of other people and with ultimate reality in the
experience of a Higher Power, God. In that sense a "spiritual awakening," whatever else it might include,
is an awakening to seeing and dealing with reality in one's own life and in relationships with other
people and with God...
2... in the Twelve Steps, where people learn about God through their own experiences with him, there is
no need to "persuade" with theology or verbal arguments. We let pain do the persuading, because we know
that it is only through pain that the hunger for healing comes that will make us ready to admit our
powerlessness. We know that until the pain of our lives was greater than the fear of swallowing our
pride and going for help, we were not hungry enough for healing to go for it through the Twelve Steps...
3... When we first read that we were to "practice these principles in all our affairs," some of us
didn't understand. How could we use the Twelve Steps to deal with conflict in a personal relationship
or a decision about buying a house? Gradually we realized that "practicing principles" means taking
specific usable pieces of truth out of larger truths and applying the smaller principles to a
- A Hunger for Healing, by J. Keith Miller, p. 196, 199, 210