Step 12 - Carrying The Message
Step 12 – 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.
Part 1 - It's Not Just Carrying
Carrying the message of
recovery to others who are still suffering from their addiction is an
integral part of the any 12 Step Program.
It serves two major functions – the most obvious is getting the
word out that recovery is possible.
Back in the 1930s, 40s
and even 50s, Alcoholics Anonymous grew mostly by this type of word of
mouth, or as AA's say it, 'one drunk talking to another.' Back then 12
Step Programs weren't widely known and there was much more shame
associated with alcoholism. Even admitting an addiction and trying to
recover often meant the addict would loose his (and yes, in the early days
it was mostly men) his job if his employer got word. So one talking
quietly to another was the rule.
One addict to another
Early on, it was also
recognized that a recovered alcoholic often got much better results
working with a practicing drunk than did the clergy or people in medical
or psychological professions. Some how, when I tell my drunk-a-log (or war
story as they call it in Australian Narcotics Anonymous) to a fellow
drunk, identification is often set up. The practicing addict can often
believe me where he or she might not believe a counselor who hasn't been
through the same sorts of problems.
Of course, that's part of
the secret – telling the truth about what it was like. The other part is
having a willing listener. Like so many newly to recovery, I wanted to get
everyone sober. Although I quickly did realize I couldn't jerk people off
barstools, I was convinced that anyone who asked for my help really wanted
Not everyone wants help
Unfortunately, this just
isn't true! Many come and just aren't ready, whatever that really means,
to let go of their addiction. It took me awhile, and almost getting drunk
because a woman wouldn't do it 'my way,' to realize that my job was to
carry the message as best I could, but not get caught up in the results.
The results do not belong tome, but to the other person and their God.
The other major reason we
need to stay willing to carry the message is because it's so darned good
for us! What better way to "keep the memory green" than to work with
someone who is practicing? It puts our addiction in our face and is often
a needed reminder of where we've come from.
There are lots of ways to
get involved with this type of 12 Step work. We can reach out to a new
comer, volunteer to help take a meeting into a jail or other institution
or give our name to the Central Office or Intergroup that fields' calls
for help. We can also, if we're inclined, let a few others know a bit of
our story. I've had one doctor and one landlord refer people to me because
I had told them a bit about where I come from – not when I first met
them, but over time.
Of course, carrying the
message and being willing to carry the message also means we have a
message to carry. Most often that is real experience with the Steps, or at
least a few weeks of freedom for our
Love, peace and