What Is Step 12 of AA?
“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.”
What Is the Purpose of This Step?
“The joy of good living” best represents Step 12 of Alcoholics Anonymous. This step prepares you to embrace all 12 steps as you continue your journey into a life of acceptance and understanding. It also encourages you to help others and to empower them as they discover the benefits of AA.
How Do You Complete This Step?
Give selflessly and ask nothing in return.
- Reach out to your fellow alcoholics who are still suffering. Give selflessly and ask nothing in return.
- Begin to practice all 12 steps on a daily basis as a foundation for your new life.
What Are Some Tips for Completing This Step?
- Bring the same spirit, love and attitude of helping fellow alcoholics to every aspect of your own life.
- Take your problems as they come and transform them into assets or strengths.
- Perspective is everything when it comes to continuing to practice all 12 steps in your day-to-day life.
- Spiritual growth should be your highest priority.
- Abandon the need for self-importance and prestige. It doesn’t bring happiness. Instead, learn to find peace within yourself and with whatever life throws your way.
What Are Some Myths About Step 12?
- You’re fully recovered once you get through all 12 steps: Recovery is a lifelong process that requires discipline and a change in attitude and perspective. Only by regular practice of the 12 steps can you continue to live a sober, happy and peaceful life. The steps become a way of life for recovering alcoholics and a guide to living honestly and compassionately.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. (1981). New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Available at: www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step12.pdf
Perspectives on Step 12
By Dominica A.
By the time I got to Step 12, I had a pretty good feeling about how far I’d come and how much I’d grown. I was no longer allowing addiction to control my life. I had stepped it up and taken responsibility for my emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Having experienced a gradual spiritual awakening, I automatically began carrying the message of freedom and love to others caught up in addiction.
For me, Step 12 is about service. It’s about giving back to others what the 12-step program gave me: Hope.
A Beautiful Transformation
I liken the 12-step process to a caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. Like a caterpillar trapped in its little cocoon, I certainly felt trapped at times during my recovery. In fact, sometimes I grew impatient and sometimes I relapsed, but I kept going. Kept hoping. Kept believing that I could create an amazing life.
Eventually, I feel as if I did transform into a beautiful butterfly. I experienced a rebirth, awakened to the fact that I am a beautiful soul on this journey called life.
When I put down the booze and stopped looking to people to fill the void within, I began a journey toward self-love. This inner journey led me to go through the 12 steps with a sponsor and helped heal some wounds. I climbed out of the darkness. My eyes awakened to the fact that I am worthy of all good things.
Feelings of emptiness waned. Becoming more conscious of my Higher Power and developing healthy friendships helped me become more confident, patient, loving, and giving.
Yes, Step 12 helps me remember to give back and lavish love on those who may not feel so lovable. To the lonely. The desolate. Those lost in the sea of addiction and who have no idea how to swim to shore.
As recovering alcoholics or addicts, we have a great message of hope to those still caught in the grip of addiction. More than 18 million alcoholics in the U.S. alone could use a glimmer of hope, so the more people willing to go the extra mile, the better.
One reason I like 12-step meetings is because we have the opportunity to meet those struggling with addiction, offering them hope and unconditional love.
My advice when approaching Step 12 is to offer some gratitude for your ongoing transformation. I dare say that by now you’ve probably grown a good bit. Now, open your heart to take the message of hope to others.
If you’re shy, no worries. Your Higher Power will guide you when it comes to shining your light in the darkness. Consider sharing your experience, strength, and hope in a recovery forum!
Keep in mind that working Step 12 does not mean your journey is over. There’s always more to learn and more opportunity for growth.
Dominica A. has a love for the 12 steps, as working through them several times has helped her steer clear of addictions and grow personally and spiritually.
She is committed to living out the 12-step philosophy and sharing the message of hope to those still suffering in addiction—and to those in recovery as well.
Dominica has attended both Alcoholics Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous meetings over the years and appreciates the support she’s received. She’s got a deep-rooted passion for helping others heal emotional pain and trauma, as her own journey through love addiction has served as a catalyst for her own healing and transformation.