Jan 1, 2016 | By Tim Powers

The Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Carrying the Message

12 Step Recovery Recovery

twelfth step

Stop and take some time to think about how far you have come in your recovery. Remember back when you first started taking the tentative first steps in your recovery journey. Remember the uncertainty and fear that came with knowing that you were powerless in the grip of alcohol abuse, but not knowing where your journey would lead. Through your hard work and determination you addressed the underlying roots of your addiction and faced those deep and often painful issues that kept you stuck in your substance abuse.

The transformation that you have made has been gradual, and the changes that have occurred in your mind, body and spirit have largely been unseen but no less powerful. You are on the cusp of completely shedding your old skin once and for all and fully embracing your new life in recovery. To take it to the next level, you must share your story and share of yourself to others that may be struggling with the disease of alcoholism. That is the guiding principle behind the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Helping Others

It may be a saying that is well-worn, but it is worth repeating–recovery is a lifelong process. This philosophy is abundantly clear in the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous which reads as follows:

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to (addicts), and to practice these principles in all our affairs

The bottom line message conveyed through the 12th Step of AA is that the serenity and peace that comes with recovery can only blossom if one shares their struggles and victories over substance abuse with others. Addiction is not only a complex and baffling, it is also a disease of selfishness. When an addict finally admits their lives are unmanageable and decide to seek treatment, they learn through the Steps to address their past and through the thorough work of these Steps  realize they are but a small part of a greater world.

Through your progression through the Steps, you come to terms with your own failings, learn to reach out to others and a greater power in a meaningful way, make amends and peace with their past and ultimately allows their true spirit to shine. Through the sharing of your own story and of yourself to others that are struggling with the disease of addiction, you provide a fertile ground for your recovery to grow deeper in your life.

How Helping Others Benefits Your Recovery

When you reach out to others and share the message of recovery, the benefits you receive are tremendous. When you help others, it builds your self-esteem and confidence and you know that are making a positive contribution in your own recovery community and the community at large. This focus on serving others also helps reduce feelings of selfishness and it help you and those you are serving find true happiness. Helping others who are struggling with drug and alcohol addiction reminds you what they left behind and they will always remember the pain of substance abuse.

Additionally, being of service to others as part of the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous is an excellent way to meet new people and engage in new experiences which are truly fulfilling. For those who volunteer, it helps minimize feelings of boredom which is a common trigger for relapse. Most importantly, when you give of yourself you are allowing yourself to grow spiritually which is an absolute necessity if recovery is be sustained in the long run.

How Can I Get Involved?

There are plenty of opportunities that you can be of service to others in your recovery. A great way to get involved is to get more involved in your homegroup. For example, you can become a meeting secretary or volunteer to be a guest speaker at a speaker meeting. You can also help set up meetings and be part of the activities committee to set up social events. Another way that you can carry out the spirit of the 12th step is that you can visit those who are in the hospital or prison that in recovery. You can give back in their recovery is to become a sponsor for a newcomer to the program.

You can also volunteer your time in other ways. You can work at a drop-in center at your local recovery center or homeless shelter. You can also become more involved in your church or some sort of outreach ministry–the options that you have to give of yourself are endless. Even if you are able to spend some quality time with a friend or loved one who is struggling is will help your recovery grow.

What is Truly Important About Helping Others and “Carrying The Message”

When people in recovery begin to help others, having the right attitude is necessary. Being of service does not mean having a superior attitude or looking down on the person they are trying to help. The best attitude that one can take when helping other people is to have a sense of humility and empathy towards others. When people adopt this mindset in their volunteer efforts, they recognize they are not better than the person they are helping. Instead, they understand they are on a more spiritually based path. Additionally, those who help others as a part of their recovery recognizes that anyone can hit a downturn in life where they lose everything.

With the Twelfth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, there may be the thought that a chapter is closing in your life–and you may be right to a degree. While you may have closed a chapter in your book of life, there are many more pages to be written. You are on a lifelong journey, and the 12 Steps were meant to be gone back to and constantly reviewed. Your life will take unexpected twists and turns, and you will discover things about yourself that you have never thought of in the past or have been long buried. With this obstacles that you encounter, the 12 Steps of AA are a place where you can always turn to review, reflect and recommit to your recovery.


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