I hear it said sometimes that you can take the 12 Steps however seems best to you.
I hear it said that you can take from the 12 Steps what you want and leave what you don’t.
I hear it said that it doesn’t really matter whether you even do the 12 Steps, as long as you keep coming to meetings.
Then we wonder why we kept on drinking or getting high, stuck on that endless merry go round.
Those ideas might be true if alcohol and drugs are more of an inconvenience than a fatal condition for you.
Those statements might be true if you are still unsure whether or not you can quit through willpower alone.
Those might be options if you are just dipping your toe in the waters of recovery to see if you might be interested in getting well.
If you’re dying of alcoholism or addiction to drugs, and you’re sick and tired of the dumpster fire that your life has become, the book of Alcoholics Anonymous is crystal clear…
If you want to get well, your chances are so much higher when you’re “All In.”
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59)
The men and women who contributed to the writing of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939 were not fooling about.
They were not standing around, kicking rocks, and conceptualizing recovery.
They did the work with the urgency of the terminally ill (which they were), and they got well.
These men and women weren’t existing in some never ending intellectual exercise, endlessly “recovering.”
There’s not a lot of ambiguity.
Alcoholics Anonymous — The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (Title Page)
No Guesswork Involved
The purpose of the book Alcoholics Anonymous is to give you precise, step-by-step directions on how to recover from alcoholism.
There isn’t a lot to ponder.
If you’re going to do this program successfully, to get well and be done drinking and using for good and all…
You had best follow the specific directions—precisely as they are written.
But the rewards for doing so are just as specific—freedom from alcohol and drugs for the rest of our lives.
It really is that simple.
Do what we do. You can have what we have.
When I finally said, “I’ll do anything,” and poured all of my pain and desperation into the 12 Steps, I got well and have not struggled to stay sober a single day in 5 years.
Most important, my experience is not unique.
These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had never known. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 14)
Powerless and Unmanageable
We can either control the amount we drink/use, or we can’t.
Our willpower is enough, or it isn’t.
We have been choosing to destroy ourselves with booze or drugs, or we have lost the power of choice.
Black or white—which is it?
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 30)
He Is, or He Isn’t
People say you don’t have to really address the idea of God when you take the 12 Steps, but that’s wholly untrue according to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Nobody can define God for you, and nobody can dictate to you what your relationship to that Higher Power, Spirit of the Universe, or otherwise Divine Force or Being looks like.
But, that Power is either available to us and has the necessary power to help us, or it doesn’t.
When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self-imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be? (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 53)
Make a Decision
My sponsor made it clear on Step 3.
In or out.
I could either try life God’s way, or keep doing it mine.
By that time, I was tired of dying while insisting on doing it my way.
I sought God with everything I had by working the remaining Steps, with no more opinions about the methods.
Opinions had become too expensive.
Desperation was a gift, because it made the decision so simple.
I got predictable yet life-altering results, just like so many others.
His alcoholic problem was taken away. That very night, years ago, it disappeared. Save for a few brief moments of temptation, the thought of drink has never returned; and at such times a great revulsion has risen up in him. Seemingly, he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity.
What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet, its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker—then he knew. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 57)
Through Steps 4 and 5, we had to get entirely honest about our entire past.
All of it.
FIrst, we got completely honest with a piece of paper and pencil.
Then, we got honest with God.
Finally, we laid it all bare, holding nothing back, with another person.
Or, we bought a six pack.
We went back through our lives. Nothing counted but thoroughness and honesty. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 65)
If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably, they got drunk. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 72-73)
On and On and On…
The examples that prove the point are endless.
Wherever you look in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the message reads:
If you want to stop drinking for good and all, you need to be “All In.”
Here are a few more thoughts to consider:
The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 17)
With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 58)
Step 6: Were entirely ready for God to remove all of these defects of character. (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59)
A Simple Program for Complicated People
The 12 Steps are very simple program for a certain group of people who love to complicate everything.
At the end of the day, it’s easy:
Work the program, or take your chances.
The decision is yours.
A great deal of desperation is your greatest asset.
Contact SONTX: Help Is Available
The Promises the 12 Steps offer are real, and sobriety is just the beginning for us all.
Life can be truly amazing at last.
No matter how bad it is right now, where there is desperation, there is hope.
We’ve been there, and we can help—contact Solutions of North Texas.
David S. is an alumnus of the SONTX Residential Program and served as a house manager. He is celebrating sobriety as a up-and-coming writer in Dallas.