Intensive Work…Making Coffee???

 Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail.  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 89)

I was speaking to some folks about working with others in recovery recently and had a whole group of people copout at once.  It was the scariest thing I have seen in a while.  They said things like “I’ll just serve coffee” or “why do I have to do that” or even “I’ll never do that” and things like this. 

The scary part was that this was not a group of people new to recovery.  Some of the group had been through recovery several times.  I was reacquainted with something I had forgotten:  The little things that were originally put in place to help a person get a little taste of what it might look like and to assist in the growth of the “humility” spoken of as being “foundation principle of each” of the Twelve Steps (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions pg. 70) have somehow become a replacement for “intensive work”.  In other cases, the idea of work with others was just written off and was replaced with checkboxes.

By checkboxes I mean that it is as if people are convinced that if I can say I did each Step (even if not done correctly) somehow I will magically remain sober.  Saying you did the Steps and doing a “minimum to get by” effort at working the Steps is far different than really working the Steps.

Later in the same paragraph, in describing what the focal point of Step Twelve is and in describing what the whole chapter is about to teach us how to do it says:

This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics!  (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 89)

Your addiction might be drugs, overeating, gambling or whatever, but the Twelfth Step has a major focal point that way too many people miss:  “Carry the message” and “Intensive work”!  Here is another key part that is often missed:  “It works when other activities fail.”

How much more direct are we expecting them to be:  “nothing will so much insure immunity”.  I’m not saying don’t serve coffee or chair meetings, but I am saying that that does not fit what is stated in this one paragraph. 

Here is my point to all of this:  If you are not Intensively working with others, you did not get out of your Twelve Step program what you were supposed to.  This is the focus point of your Step Twelve because the authors of the Twelve Steps felt that when all of the other stuff you do or have learned fails you, this is the only thing that will work to keep your sobriety.

This is the weapon to end all weapons, the greatest tool that they offered you in recovery and most ignore it and some do something kinda similar, but few even have any inkling to do this.

Let me help you with clarity:  THIS IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO DO IF YOU WANT TO GET SOBRIETY OUT OF THE TWELVE STEPS.  This is one of the keys to twelve Step culture and it is impossible to have worked the Twelve Steps if you skip the most important part of the Twelfth one.

Please Twelve Steppers, go out and find someone to work intensively with.  If that person doesn’t make it find another and another.  If you do not know how to “intensively work” with others, look around until you find that rare Twelve Step “diamond in the rough” and have that person teach you how to “intensively work” with others (and possibly have that person take you on as a sponsee). 

So go chair your meetings, make the coffee, and so on, but more importantly, INTENSIVELY WORK WITH OTHERS!

Wade H.