Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our Twelfth Suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 89)
Giving back what was so freely given to you is an absolute necessity in the program of recovery. Working with other alcoholics and addicts is the solution to permanent sobriety. We cannot keep what we have without giving it away.
The alcoholic or addict is full of self. Our problem was not the drugs and alcohol. Our troubles stem from a life run on self-will. We were selfish, self-centered and egotistical. Basically, we were full of ourselves. The solution to getting out of ourselves is found in helping others.
Effective Ways to be of Maximum Service to Others Service does not always have to come from sponsorship or twelve step calls. There are many other ways to carry the message. After all, service is simply any act that is good for others. Let’s look at a few examples:
Show up consistently to make coffee at the meeting.
Help out by emptying the butt can outside the meeting.
Talk to the suffering addict/alcoholic who picks up a 24 hour surrender chip. Tell him or her how you got the amount of time you have. Explain how you feel today compared to how you felt then. Exchange phone numbers and offer support.
Call someone with less time or more time than you. Ask them how their day was, and what’s going on in their life. This action will make your problems seem less significant.
When you have enough time in sobriety, sign up for a Hospitals and Institutions commitment. Bringing a meeting into a detox unit, treatment center, hospital or correctional facility will give you a real sense of gratitude. Make H & I your new high.
Volunteer at a boys and girls club, soup kitchen or your local hospital. Helping others does not just involve people in the fellowship. The program of recovery involves practicing the principles in all our affairs.
Taking the action to help others gets us out of ourselves. It works when everything else fails. When we live on an altruistic plane we begin to see that the world no longer revolves around us and our self-centered motives. Our self-worth improves and life begins to take on a whole new meaning.
On Sponsorship and 12 Step Calls
Getting out of ourselves and carrying the message to the addict who is still sick and suffering is our solution. This is the core of our program. We give back what was given to us, and in return, we stay sober. When we have taken all twelve steps, the promises of the program begin to come true, and it is our duty to carry the message of hope to the newcomer.
Sponsorship should never be about your opinion of the program. There is no such thing as a personal interpretation of the twelve steps. A sponsor’s duty is to live and then convey the solution of the twelve steps to the sick and suffering addict.
We cannot transmit something we don’t have. If you have not experienced something don’t share it with the newcomer. Keep the message clear and simple. Take your sponsee through the work the same way your sponsor took you through. `
A sponsor is not a junior therapist, financial advisor, relationship coach, or a nurse. The responsibility of a sponsor is to take another alcoholic or addict through the twelve steps. We cannot “fix” anyone. We can help them by taking them through the work and offering our experience, strength and hope.
Once you have taken all 12 steps, contact your local Intergroup Office and have them put you on their 12 step call list.
Tips on Making Twelfth Step Calls:
Reprinted from Lifeline, May 2001, Volume 34, Issue 5: The Newsletter for Alcoholics Anonymous St. Paul and suburban area Intergroup Central Office
Arrange for another AA member to go with you.
Have a quiet time, read Chapter Seven in the Big Book.
Talk to the prospect alone, if possible. (That is, without his family and friends there.)
Congratulate him on wanting to do something about his drinking problem.
Give him some AA literature.
Note well what the Big Book says at the bottom of page 94: “On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book.”
Each of you tells him “what you used to be like, what happened, and what you are like now.”
If he wants to talk, let him.
At the top of page 95, it advises, “Give him a chance to think it over…Sometimes a new man is anxious to proceed at once, you may be tempted to let him do so. This is sometimes a mistake. If he has trouble later, he is likely to say you rushed him… If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval (at least ask him to read the first 164 pages). After doing that (reading the book), he must decide for himself if he wants to go on.
When you are ready to leave, tell him you will call on him the following day if he wants, and he will have time to read the first 164 pages, or had time to think about your conversation.
Note that the second paragraph on page 96 says, “Suppose you are now making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume, and he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery.” At this point you review the Twelve Steps with him, and arrange to bring him to your group meeting. If he does not want to go on, or feels that he can do it some other way, pick up your copy of the Big Book and invite him to call on you again if he changes his mind and decides that AA can be of help.
The Big Book, at the top of page 96 says, “We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot, or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself.”