Those who’ve made it to the final step of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous know that the twelfth step is all about paying it forward: teaching Twelve Steps to other addicts so they can reach their spiritual awakening, too.
It’s an important aspect of life in recovery that helps you incorporate the Twelve Steps into your life wholeheartedly. Just think about it: if you start teaching someone the Twelve Steps, then you will inevitably be going through the steps from the beginning with new perspective, new guidance, and new lessons. Though you would be acting as the mentor, you’ll learn that teaching Twelve Steps to other addicts will teach you more than anything and will be one of the keys to having a fulfilling recovery.
Step 12: Pay It Forward and Start Teaching Twelve Steps to Others
Much of the 12-Step method involves inward reflection and self-assessment. Over the course of the initial three steps, a person must accept that life as an addict has become unmanageable and they must become willing to embrace “the higher power of one’s understanding” as the driving life force.
The next steps involve learning how to embrace that higher power, which involves being able to look honestly at oneself and one’s past, being accountable for mistakes and wrongdoings committed against others, and attaining the humility necessary to admit those wrongs and make amends for them.
From Step Ten onward, the individual is reaching a point of maintenance wherein the previous steps are utilized on a day-to-day basis. Having established a close connection with the higher power of one’s understanding and adopted an outlook of humility, individuals are prepared for what is the final step of the twelve-step method, which is to start teaching Twelve Steps and carry the message of twelve-step recovery to others in need.
Student Becomes Teacher: Helping Others Work the Twelve Steps
According to Alcoholics Anonymous literature, the Twelfth Step is as follows:
“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of [the Twelve Steps]… [individuals] carry this message to [others], and… practice these principles in all… affairs.”
One straightforward interpretation of Step Twelve is that there is a point when an individual working the steps—likely under the direct guidance of a more experienced member of Alcoholics Anonymous—will become very experienced in the method of the Twelve Steps and can begin to guide others through the process of twelve-step recovery. In short, the student becomes one of the teachers at the Twelfth Step.
Though it may seem that one might still be unqualified to help others work the Twelve Steps after having barely completed the steps him or herself, the process of working the steps is actually a much more time-consuming, intensive process than it would seem when you simply read the steps on paper.
For some individuals, making it through each step in its entirety, from Step One to Step Twelve, can take several years; however, the length of time required to work all the steps varies depending on a number of factors.
Additionally, individuals typically meet with a sponsor, or a more experienced individual helping them to work the Twelve Steps, numerous times to study the Alcoholics Anonymous literature, which affords a more comprehensive understanding of each step and what is required to complete it.
As such, by the time they reach Step Twelve, many individuals have been working the steps for quite some time and, therefore, have accrued a rather thorough understanding of what each step takes to complete.
The Importance of the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous
It’s important to be cognizant of the phrasing of Step Twelve for a couple of important reasons. Firstly, the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous is explicit in referring to twelve-step recovery as a “spiritual awakening” rather than anything resembling one’s having overcome a brain disease.
This emphasis illustrates the importance of spirituality and achieving a state of spiritual fulfillment as part of the recovery process according to the twelve-step method. In essence, the phrasing of recovery as an overtly spiritual experience highlights the central role that spirituality plays in achieving long-term sobriety, which is often characterized as being more of a behavioral or physical state outside of the realm of twelve-step recovery.
Another important concept behind the Twelfth Step—though more an implication than explicitly stated—is that teaching others the methodology behind the Twelve Steps becomes a means of achieving further mastery of the material.
If an individual were to only work the steps him or herself without becoming willing to guide others through the same process, he or she will loses the opportunity to continually review and study the literature. In essence, without teaching others an individual will have likely only studied the Twelve Steps once time.
By helping others work through the steps, individuals get continuous and repeated exposure to the source material, which further instills in them the principles and methods that are central to the ideology. Communicating the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to others in need provides a means of further mastery while also giving them the satisfaction that comes with helping others overcome the disease of addiction by achieving physical, emotional, social, and spiritual recovery.
Before Twelve Steps, Get Addiction Treatment
While there is anecdotal evidence of people quitting cold turkey and practice the Twelve Steps to maintain sobriety in their lives, Drug Treatment Center Finder highly recommends starting off on a clean slate by going to an addiction treatment center, where you can medically monitored in the early stages of any drug withdrawal and receive life after treatment resources to help you in your recovery. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 to learn more about treatment options available to you.