Step 12: “After experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to convey this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
The last of the 12 steps is to get the message across and put the program’s principles into practice in each area of your life. For those participating in recovery programs, practicing step 12 is simply “how it works,” as the community founders found out for themselves in those early days.
As the history of Alcoholics Anonymous shows so clearly, working with Others Still Suffering, Bill W. and Dr. Bob kept sober. The same principle applies to all members of 12 step groups: “To keep it, you have to give it away.”
12 steps defined
According to Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 steps are as follows:..
- We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a force greater than ourselves could make us well again.
- We have chosen to surrender our will and our lives to the care of God as we understand him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of us.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our injustice.
- We were completely ready to let God remove all of these character flaws
- He humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of people we’d harmed and got ready to make amends for them all.
- If possible, such people will be redeemed straight away, unless doing so would hurt them or others.
- Continue taking stock and if we were wrong, admit it right away.
- Seeked through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, and only for the knowledge of His will for us and the strength to pray for it.
- After experiencing a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to convey this message to the alcoholics and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.
What is step 12?
In Al-Anon, the twelfth step is “Try to get the message across to ‘others'” and in Alcoholics Anonymous it says “To Alcoholics”. However, the principle is the same. To complete all 12 steps you need to try to help others.
Transmitting the message to others through the exchange of experience, strength, and hope reinforces the 12 step spiritual principle in the person taking the 12th step as well as in the person making the exchange.
If no one worked on Step 12, the program would simply cease to exist. Without the service work of those who came before, no members would be here now.
However, Step 12 also challenges members to put into practice the spiritual growth they have found – not just within the community, but in all aspects of their lives. It requires practicing these principles in all of your affairs.
Again, this makes the 12th step “work” and causes the program to function as a point of attraction rather than an advertisement. For many in the 12-tier scholarships, it’s just like working on Step 12.
Benefits of step 12
In step 12, people who worked on the program can collaborate with other people who are still having problems. This benefits both the person in recovery and those still through the program. Serving others can:
- Remind you of the early days of recovery (and why you worked so hard to get through this phase)
- Hold them accountable and keep them from getting complacent as they recover
- Give a sense of purpose
- Improve your fellowship with others
- Inspire someone else to stay the sober path
- Help provide insights to others as you restore
- Enable you to become a trustworthy person to someone in recovery
To make it work
Twelve-step work not only helps those who are still suffering, but also goes to meetings and sets an example. Here are a few ways to do Step 12 during an AA or Al-Anon meeting:
- make coffee
- Speak during the comments
- Say “yes” to any request to do service work or to speak at a meeting
- Offer to take those who would otherwise not go to a meeting
Follow-up is also an important part of a step 12 call. If you call the person in a few days to see if they might want to go to a meeting with you, it shows that you are real. A word of warning: make sure to carry the message, not the person with a substance use disorder.
A word from Verywell
As you go through the 12 steps, remember that addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that requires work and commitment. Step 12 is a way to protect your own sobriety by helping others lead better, more sober lives every day.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction problems, contact the National Substance Abuse and Mental Health Authority (SAMHSA) helpline at 1-800-662-4357 Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.
You can find more mental health resources in our National Helpline Database.