step 12
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Step 12 – Service in Sobriety: Helping Others Through 12 Steps

It wasn’t long ago that addiction was seen as a moral affliction rather than as a disease. At the time, anyone who exhibited problematic, habitual substance abuse was deemed to be weak in character and will, lacking in a close relationship with God and willfully choosing not to exercise self-control. Instead of treating those individuals as if they suffered from a disease like would be the case today, they were sent to dry out in prison or insane asylums.

Additionally, it was believed that fear of being confined or imprisoned for discouraged them from any further substance abuse, but that’s not what they observed. Rather than these individuals resisting their previous urges, most of them quickly resumed their substance abuse despite knowing the possible repercussions. It was then that we realized there was something more to substance abuse than met the eye.

Addiction is a disease that transforms. People who were once good, happy people, devoted to their families and considerate of others become husks of their former selves, motivated only by the seeking and consumption of mind-altering intoxicants. While most diseases are either physical or psychological, addiction is somewhere in between, affecting people in both ways and, therefore, causing a more profound change.

Due to the accumulation of addiction research in the last several decades, the most highly recommended means of recovery has been for individuals to go to rehab. The clinical, medical treatments that are offered as part of these rehabilitation programs address the individual effects of addiction rather than single forms of treatment addressing the various types of symptoms at once. In other words, addiction treatment programs consist of a variety of different treatments because each form of treatment addresses only one aspect of the disease.

However, there have been many people who experienced success in recovery after joining a twelve-step program, which is a more spiritually-focused blueprint for addiction recovery. Twelve-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and its numerous derivative groups are based on the idea that a person’s spiritual well-being is at the center of addiction and a person must address his or her spiritual needs before he or she can achieve lasting recovery.

As part of a spiritual recovery journey, members of twelve-step programs complete a number of tasks, or “steps”, that include things like admitting powerlessness to addiction, appealing to a higher powerful for the strength to overcome addiction, taking an inventory of character defects, and making amends with the people that were harmed over the course of one’s addiction. But throughout the twelve-step process, members are encouraged to adopt certain values that will contribute to their ability to sustain their sobriety. One such value that’s considered extremely important to recovery is being of service or giving selflessly of oneself to others.

Benefits of Serving While in Recovery

While in active addiction, a person lives his or her life with essentially only one concern: obtaining alcohol and/or drugs. Everything else in his or her life quickly falls off the radar, including one’s job or career, relationships, financial responsibilities, physical health, and so on. In a sense, living in the throes of active addiction is the polar opposite of being of service to others. Therefore, when an addict begins recovery it’s highly suggested to counter the previous period of self-serving single-mindedness with being of service to others and has even been found to help those in recovery to remain sober.

However, being of service or help to others is a very broad goal with many different methods available for one to do so. In twelve-step programs, it’s often suggested that new members become more involved in the program by being of service at twelve-step meetings.

How to Be of Service to Your Program

Twelve-step support groups aren’t a clinical or medical form of treatment, but despite the lack of scientific evidence to support their efficacy, there have been millions and millions of people to achieve lasting recovery with the twelve-step method. Part of their success is due to the concept of fellowship whereby all members form a supportive, encouraging, empathetic community. There’s the understanding that each member would eagerly help others if or when it was needed. As such, newcomers to twelve-step groups are encouraged to participate in maintaining, preparing, and tidying the locations of the meetings. This can be done in a number of ways.

There’s a common stereotype that people in twelve-step programs chain-smoke cigarettes and incessantly drink coffee. While that’s not necessarily a rule, there’s actually a level of truth to the stereotype since it’s extremely common to see members smoking outside of meetings and drinking coffee while attending the meetings.

Therefore, one way to be of service to the group is to keep the area clean of cigarette butts, picking them up and throwing them in the trash. Additionally, arriving at the meeting a little early so as to have coffee made when the members begin to arrive is another gesture that would be very much appreciated by those in attendance. There are oftentimes members who stand at the entrance of the meeting area and greet the other members who are attending the day’s meeting as they walk through the door. Again, this is a very simple gesture, but it’s always received very warmly and is a great way for newcomers to meet other members in the group, especially the more established members who could be contenders for a sponsor.

Although meetings aren’t typically going to result in a big mess, there’s a level of straightening and tidying up that needs to be done after meetings. This means making sure that any empty cups, napkins, and papers end up in the garbage or recycling bins and either putting away or straightening the chairs. Finally, people who have their own vehicles might consider offering rides to and/or from the meetings to those who don’t drive themselves and who may have difficulty attending. While the other tasks are surely helpful, offering transportation is surely the greatest gesture of kindness and the greatest level of service a person could offer to other twelve-step members.

Helping People Outside the Program

It may be encouraged for new members to offer of themselves to their home groups, but anyone can also be of service to people outside the program as well. There are often many more opportunities for community service that we’re aware of, whether it be helping the elderly, volunteering at a nearby homeless shelter or soup kitchen, or donating clothes, furniture, or other goods to those in need. Even the smallest gestures can make a significant difference.

Call Drug Treatment Center Finder For a Free Consultation

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and would benefit from learning about the high-quality programs that are available, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070 for a free consultation. No matter the time of day, we’re always available and ready to help you or your loved one begin the recovery journey today.