Just attending the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous is not enough to ensure lasting sobriety. Those in recovery also need to make the changes that will allow them to build a good life away from addiction. The 12 step program is a path to lasting sobriety, but it can only be of benefit when people continue to practice the steps. The work of the steps is never complete. When members of AA do not put enough effort into their recovery, it may be referred to as two stepping.
Two stepping refers to those individuals in AA who are not really following the program, but still attend the meetings. These can be people who have managed to stay sober for quite a long period of time. They may even be in a position where they teach other people about the program. It is called two stepping because these individuals only practice step one and parts of step twelve. They have admitted they are powerless over alcohol and now act as if all the work is done. The only part of step 12 they practice is to carry the message to other alcoholics. However, they are not using the program in their own life.
There are many reasons for why people might be accused of two stepping in AA. This term tends to be used as a negative description, but the individual may have justifiable reasons for their behavior. Some of the possible reasons why people two-step include:
* There are people who feel that the 12 Step program is not for them. They do benefit from the support of the AA meetings so they continue to attend the group. There is no obligation for members of AA to follow the 12 Steps. The traditions state that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. So long as these individuals are not trying to instruct other people on how to practice the 12 Steps, it should not be too much of a problem.
* One of the most common reasons for why people two-step is that they find a part of the program too much of a challenge. The usual stumbling block will be around taking a personal inventory and making amends. Most members struggle with these steps in the beginning, and some will never be able to get beyond their reservations.
* There are people who treat recovery from addiction as being similar to serving time in prison. These dry drunks reluctantly come to the meetings, but they are not willing to do any more than this. In many ways their life may have changed very little from when they were drinking. Such individuals can be full of anger and resentment.
* Some individuals have other problems that prevent them from working the 12 Steps. They may be suffering from undiagnosed depression or another mental health condition. Until their dual diagnosis is fully treated these people will struggle to make any progress in recovery.
* When people are new to recovery they will usually be highly motivated to stay sober. After a few months there motivation can begin to wane. They might forget how bad things were in addiction so they become unwilling to do the things they need do to remain sober.
If people two-step in AA it may be dangerous in a number of ways including:
* In order to gain the benefits of the 12 Steps it is necessary to follow them. The final goal of these steps is to achieve a state of serenity. This is the freedom of mind that addicts once hoped to find in their addiction. The gift of serenity is worth working for, and the 12 Steps provide a well-trodden path to this.
* If people are not putting enough effort into their sobriety, it puts them at risk of relapse. Just giving up alcohol or drugs is not enough to make life satisfying. If people fail to do things to improve their life in recovery it will mean dissatisfaction.
* The reason why most people often turn to addiction in the first place was that their coping strategies for dealing with life were flawed. In order to deal with life more successfully in the future they will need to develop a new way of managing the ups and downs of life. The 12 Steps will provide them with new and effective coping strategies.
* If people do not try to follow the steps they may feel like a bit of an interloper in AA. This means that they will not benefit from the full potential of the fellowship.
It is easy for members to fall into the trap of just two stepping in Alcoholics Anonymous. These are some things they can do to avoid or escape this trap:
* Get a good sponsor can be one of the best ways to avoid two-stepping. This individual will be there to motivate and guide the individual through the steps. It is important to choose a sponsor that has good experience with the steps so that they will be able to fulfill their role effectively.
* In AA they recommend sticking with the winners. This means spending time with those members who work a good program. Spending time with successful AA members is inspirational and motivating.
* Getting more involved with Alcoholics Anonymous can be a good way to increase motivation for completing the steps. This could involve taking on duties in home group. This extra commitment to the group should not be a replacement for the steps.
* Attending different meetings can be a good way to rejuvenate commitment to the program. It can be particularly helpful if members attend meetings where the main discussion topic is the steps.
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