12 Step

The 12 Steps

The12 steps?  What are they?  What is their use?  Why is it that some swear by them and some swear at them?  Needless to say, there is a lot of difference of opinion when it comes to the 12 steps. The 12 steps originated in the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous.  These were considered the steps that members use and followed in their quest for sobriety.  The 12 steps were done in sequence and hopefully resulted in relief from the pain and hostilities that living an alcoholic lifestyle created and/or contributed to.  Over the years many other recovery groups adopted these same steps to assist in the recovery from whatever maladies these groups were created to address.  In most cases these 12 steps are identical from group to group, with little or no alteration.

The 12 steps are used generally by oneself, and applied to oneself, for oneself.  Many groups employ the concept of a guide or sponsor.  This person generally acts as a mentor for the person just getting started in recovery.  Many of these relationships last a lifetime.  The sponsor’s will generally be found to interpret the 12 steps and their methods in the same way that they were interpreted for them.  This has an up, as well as a down side.  The upside is the person suffering from alcoholism or addiction is generally in a state of confusion, anxiety, and generally reduced analytical ability concerning confronting and handling the particular malady.  The sponsor would help keep them pointed in the right direction and on task in terms of not “rabitting” or running away from the problem.  The down side in my opinion comes from the person tending to take on the understandings of the sponsor rather than reaching his own understandings and acceptance or not of the 12 steps.  The 12 steps are not intended to create an army of robots who mindlessly follow what they are told, but rather they are meant to consult a persons understanding, as well as bring about renewed understandings and create fresh understandings as well.  Again, in my own opinion, until application of the 12 steps reaches the level of self-determined understanding and application by the person, sobriety will be tenuous at best.  This is of course better than no sobriety at all and is a starting point.

Probably the biggest factor in successful application of the 12 steps is actually understanding them for oneself.  Key to this process would be fully understanding each of the terms used in the wording of the 12 steps.  Misunderstood words result in misunderstood concepts, erroneous ideas, and failed applications.  Individuals need to have their own understandings of the 12 steps and not a sponsors or someone else’s understanding.  Each of us are very much individuals, with individual hopes, dreams, problems, issues, and histories.  If one is going to use the 12 steps as a tool of sobriety, then they need to be applied to one’s actual situation and life, as they are, and as one understands them.   

This should be the true roll of the sponsor or mentor.  To assist the still suffering alcoholic or addict to confront and bring under control the issues that have resulted in the alcoholism or addiction in the first place.  The 12 steps are tools to help accomplish this, there are other tools as well.