Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Read on to discover the final step of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program and how it helps those in recovery from alcoholism.

You’ve come a long way on your journey in the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program. You’ve probably been through many ups and downs along the way, but you’ve stayed with the program. You are now making your way to the end. It’s time to embark on the final AA step 12 discussion and talk about all that it entails for your life.

During this vital step, you will learn how to empower and help others as you continue your journey of sobriety. You will better understand how to embrace all 12 steps and live a life of acceptance and understanding.

What Is Step 12 of AA?

The 12th step is the last step of the program, and it discusses how you can be an example and testimony to others who are struggling with the same issues because of the dramatic, life-changing event that has occurred in your life. The exact quote for step 12 is as follows:1

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

There are two parts to this step. The first part deals with your spiritual awakening and the second part discusses carrying the message to others.1 Working through the steps leads to your spiritual awakening;1 AA also calls you to help others and be accountable to others. During your journey, you have accomplished goals and life changes that you never could achieve in your own strength and power.1 The ability to quit drinking and live soberly is a powerful achievement and proves that you are a new person. You’ve experienced a spiritual awakening.

According to the 12 Steps of AA, you are now prepared and able to carry the message of hope to others.1 Your new life is evident to others, and it is an inspiration to those around you.1 As you put into practice the things you’ve learned, you will continue to inspire and help others—that is one way you are carrying the message forward.

Sharing your life-changing experience brings hope and inspiration to those who hear it. They will see the evidence of your new life and realize that there is hope for them, too. But it doesn’t stop there. When you share your story and message of hope, you will discover it gives you added strength as well. The more you share your message, the stronger you become in your stand—in your new life.

The spiritual awakening that you’ve experienced is a direct result of the previous step 11.2 This step paved the way for the new life you’re experiencing. It also reinforces the spiritual principles of the 12 steps. However, this step is often difficult and challenging for many people because they must publicly acknowledge they are experiencing alcoholism.

Spiritual Awakening in AA Step 12

Now is a good time to review what you learned in the previous 11 steps. During these steps, you:1

  • Were helpless to get rid of alcoholism, yet this powerlessness was a key to move forward, as you admitted it.
  • Realized that your own strength would not suffice to help break the power of alcohol, but a higher power was necessary.
  • Put your alcoholism problems in the hands of that higher power, which is God for many.
  • Searched your inner self for moral failures and made an inventory of them.
  • Confessed these failings to God and another person.
  • Were willing and asked for a higher power to remove the defects that you confessed.
  • Took inventory of those you had harmed and made the wrongs rights as best you could.
  • Continued to assess your behavior and made corrections as needed.
  • Practiced prayer and meditation as you sought the purpose for your life.2

You are more prepared now to move forward with the 12th step of spiritual awakening and carrying the message to others. When a person undergoes a spiritual awakening, they are transformed by the psychic, life-changing occurrence.1 Consequently, their obsession to drink alcohol is vastly reduced.1 They have a new purpose and meaning in their life, which motivates them to abstain from alcohol.1

People experience their spiritual awakening in different ways.3 For some people, the occurrence is sudden. It will be as if a lightbulb is switched on.3 The awakening is so powerful and real that they are immediately aware that a change has occurred. However, for other people, it occurs differently. They gradually are awakened and discover that their life is different.3 Sometimes, they may recognize the change because someone points it out to them.3 Whether you are slowly awakening or suddenly transformed, stay on the path of sobriety and share the story of your change.

Ways of Carrying the AA Message

The other component of step 12 is to carry the message of alcohol recovery forward to other people.1 You can do this in several ways. Different people have different methods for sharing the message with others. Both subtle and bold methods of delivery are acceptable. One way you can share the positivity of your new life is to help new attendees to the program feel at ease. You can do this by creating a welcoming and non-judgmental environment. As others feel relaxed, it can help them open up about their struggles with alcoholism; therefore, encouraging them on the road to recovery.

If a conversation opens for you to discuss your successes with the 12-step program, then do so with humility and courage. You want to keep in mind that the program is not one of promotion but one of attraction.1 You want to live a life that attracts others to a sober life so they can find out for themselves what it is all about.1 As they see how you are leading by example, it will motivate them to want to know more about the process.1

When you continue with the program by working with others, you benefit others and yourself. Your purpose for helping others in the program is not only for their good, but it keeps you on track as well.1 In fact, any kind of outreach and help to others will be beneficial to you in your recovery.4 Research shows that community service to others helps people recovering from alcoholism to stay on the right path.4 In addition, as you share your story, you will see the good that you’re doing and make yourself accountable at the same time. The more you practice the steps, talk about it, and live it, the stronger you become as you continue on the pathway of recovery.1, 5

Alcohol Recovery After AA 12-Step Program

Many people think that after they have completed the 12-step AA program, they are completely recovered and finished with the process. However, this is not the case. Alcoholism involves a life-long walk of abstaining, accountability, and self-discipline.5 When you continue to practice the 12 steps you learned, it will help you live a sober life away from alcohol. It is vital to stay connected to your recovery community through AA so you don’t lose track of your goals. Participants who are committed to attending the 12-step meetings regularly have success in staying abstinent from alcohol.5 By attending regular AA meetings or group therapy with like-minded individuals, you will have added support on your journey. During AA meetings, you have ample opportunities to relearn the 12 steps. This helps keep you stay focused on sobriety. Also, you will have an opportunity to share the message as mentioned in the 12th step.

If you find that you require alcoholism treatment now or in the future, many helpful resources are available on sites such as SAMHSA or other relevant alcohol treatment centers. Reach out for help if you are having trouble quitting alcohol on your own. The sooner you get help, the better off you will be.

Previous: Step 11

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