Staying Current With 12-Step Work

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Those of us who have experienced living with the disease of alcoholism and addiction remember how desperately we sought escape and freedom. We also remember the hope and relief that we felt we finally found the program of recovery. Maybe it didn’t look exactly how we imagined it, but we sure were happy to find a solution to our deadly disease, finally. The sheer joy of seeing people who had alcoholism and addiction just like we did, but were now living happy and free lives in recovery, was incredible. Our time spent losing our lives trapped inside our disease could finally be over.

We heard these recovering alcoholics and addicts talk about participating in the program of recovery. They spoke about attending meetings, being of service, and getting familiar with the concept of fellowship. They also spoke often about taking the 12-Steps. They called all of this “working a program” and “doing the work.” We realized they meant we must do these things if we wished to get and stay in recovery from our alcoholism and addiction. Whatever hang-ups we may have had at first, we saw that this solution worked for them. So we began to believe it could work for us, too.

We sought the advice and guidance of these friendly people to work the program of recovery. We found regular meetings to attend and did our best to be of service. And, perhaps begrudgingly for some of us, we worked the 12-Steps. We didn’t know what to expect, but most of us were simply amazed by the transforming power that working the 12-Steps had over us and our lives. We felt relief, peace, and growth in ways that we probably thought were impossible for us. Best of all, we were freed from the prison of our disease, as long as we stayed involved in the program of recovery. This is where confusion sometimes enters the picture.

There’s Even More to Experience

Some people are under the impression that they will remain safely sober after going through all 12-Steps just once, then maintaining a few meetings and service commitments. Perhaps some will be able to stay in recovery with this amount of effort, but we feel they are selling themselves short and missing much of the wonders of a life in recovery. We aren’t ever cured of our alcoholism and addiction, but we are granted a daily reprieve contingent upon our spiritual condition’s maintenance. Perhaps we can keep ourselves spiritually fit with just a few meetings and service commitments, but what if there is even more learning, growing, and love we can experience?

At Jaywalker Lodge, we believe there is. When we first encountered and took the 12-Steps, they changed our minds in many ways, opened our hearts and spirits, and helped us grow in ways we believed we would never be able to. Such a truly miraculous experience may seem impossible to duplicate, but the 12-Steps never really lose their magic. Every time we work our way through them, they teach us more about ourselves, help us see life from a better perspective, clear our minds, open our hearts, and grow our spirits. Working the 12-Steps just once, we miss out on all the growth and increase of the beautiful gifts we received from that initial run-through.

Continue to Engage

It is written right into the language of the 12-Steps and the literature of recovery that we continue to engage in the 12-Step process going forward. As long as we wish to be happy, useful, whole, and purpose-driven, we should be actively participating in the 12-Steps. Many of us find that the quality of our lives — both inwardly and outwardly — is deeply dependent on the quality of our engagement with the program of recovery. When we leave one element of the program off our plate, everything seems to suffer, even if only slightly at first. When we skip meetings, we can begin to feel misunderstood or isolated. When we neglect to be of service, we can lose our sense of purpose or meaning, and our own problems can begin to magnify.

But when we avoid being active with the 12-Steps for too long, we can start to lose our spiritual connection, which depletes our peace and clarity. We start to lose our sense of direction, too. We begin to backslide into old, and perhaps destructive, patterns of thinking and acting. Our resentments and fears pile up without the inventory process, and soon we are frightened and angry far too often. Worst of all, we leave the door directly open to the potential for relapse, which can be life-threatening. 

Luckily, all these negative consequences are easily avoided. We can stick to our regular meeting schedule, we can keep our eyes open for service opportunities, and we can make regular appointments to meet with our sponsor and go over 12-Step work with them. If we are especially lucky, we’ll have the opportunity to take someone else through the 12-Steps and be a sponsor. Then it will be even more necessary for us to stay active and current in our 12-Step work.

Alcoholism and addiction are devastating and potentially deadly diseases. People who suffer from this disease are often unable to overcome it on their own. Thankfully, there is a solution — the 12-Step program of recovery. The willingness to work the 12-Step program rewards many with the necessary psychic change and vital spiritual experience that bring freedom and recovery from alcoholism and addiction, provided that they maintain active participation. Continued, honest work on the 12-Steps is often a massive indicator of quality of life and duration of recovery. As long as one wishes to remain sober and in recovery, they should be engaged with the 12-Steps and other aspects of their recovery program. At Jaywalker Lodge, we specialize in helping men who’ve had difficulty getting or staying sober find meaningful, happy lives in lasting recovery. Are you ready to begin your journey? To learn more, call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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