Alcoholics Anonymous: Working Step 12

Alcoholics Anonymous: Working Step 12

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.


Although this is the final step of Alcoholics Anonymous, your journey is far from over. In Step 12 participants are urged to carry on the message of AA as well as to honestly live its principles each and every day. In this guide to working step 12, you’ll learn what a “spiritual awakening” is, how to avoid the trap of complacency and the right ways to help other alcoholics. 

What Is a Spiritual Awakening? 

Whether you are religious or not, the twelve steps are a journey based on your acceptance and development of your spirituality. In each step, you were faced with a different focus that challenged you to grow in a certain part of yourself: learning humility, understanding personal responsibility, developing a desire to be your best self. It is this newfound spirituality that has enabled you to look inward and open yourself up to change and makes you excited to continue to change. 

The original text describes a spiritual awakening as a new state of consciousness where you can do, feel, and believe what you previously couldn’t on your own. It could be hope, that you deserve love, or that you would ever break alcohol’s hold on you. It is both a mental and emotional transformation that has made you more resilient to life’s hardships. This doesn’t mean you no longer have flaws and shortcomings, but that you can address and fix them where before Alcoholics Anonymous you did not. 

Avoiding Complacency: What Is Two Stepping?

Many of those who have completed the last step in Alcoholics Anonymous will say how satisfying it is–understandable, as it required jumping through numerous emotional hurdles to get to this point. For some, this satisfaction comes from having their personal, professional, social, and romantic relationships greatly improved. While these are all wonderful positives, they are superficial victories that can prevent these individuals from growing further. 

This is a fairly commonplace occurrence, so much so that it has a term associated with it called “two-stepping”. This occurs when an individual who is still involved in AA doesn’t feel it necessary to go through all the 12 steps again. It might be for the reasons listed above or not, but either way, there is such a sense of self-satisfaction that they only do a select few of the steps. Two-stepping refers to doing only the first and twelfth step of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This highly erroneous way of thinking is dangerous because it can prevent you from growing further.

Working Step 12: Carrying the AA Message To Other Alcoholics

The majority of the text about Step 12 is essentially a recap of all that you’ve learned and emphasizes the importance of living the principles of AA in your everyday life. The actionable part of this step is quite well-known: spreading the message of Alcoholics Anonymous to others who need help. 

There are multiple ways to do this: speaking at meetings, convincing other alcoholics to attend meetings, and sponsoring others. However, speaking to or in front of others isn’t the only way to spread the message (you’re welcome, introverts). It can mean taking more of a backstage role that helps keep your local AA chapter functioning or keeping the meetings running smoothly. This can mean booking venues, setting up seating, or even managing the refreshments. Ultimately, carrying the message is about supporting the organization and those within it. 

But, we are humans, and sometimes pride or other messy emotions can get in the way of our good intentions. Here are a few things not to do when attempting to carry the message:

  • Don’t get discouraged if the people you try to help end up relapsing or reject your advice
  • Don’t be overeager to share your advice; you might inadvertently lead someone down a path that was right for you but not for them
  • Don’t take a leadership position before you feel ready for it

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