12 Step program runs the entire gamut of members. You will find people who have 50 or more years of sobriety from their drug of choice. On the other end of the spectrum are people who repeatedly have difficulty putting 30 days together. They have been bouncing in and out of the rooms for years. Many of this repeat group will often blame the program itself for their failure to stay sober. “AA, NA or OA is not for me”, they say. Yet, they see people who have remained sober for decades using exactly the same program which has “failed” them.
In fact, many of these repeaters finally do get it and begin to put together some time. It’s obvious,that their success involved some type of change. Under closer examination we see that the program itself remained the same. It was the attitude and actions of the alcoholic, drug or food addict which had altered. When they began to let go of doing it “their way” and listened to the advice of “The Big Book”, their sponsor and other members; the program started to pay big dividends. Suddenly, some of the very things they rebelled against doing started to make a lot of sense.
Personal Reflection: How do I make the program work for me?
When a person is finally willing to give the program a chance they are certainly to be commended. Many of those people spent years floating along in life. It seems as if they never could admit that they had a problem. When they became willing to give the program a chance, it was an encouraging sign. Family members were excited that their loved one was on the road to recovery.
We in the program also share in some of that new found optimism. However, our experience has shown that much more is needed after the initial excitement of commitment has been made. That is when the real work of the program actually begins. After patting the newcomer on the back, we strongly advice him that he make ninety meetings in ninety days. We push him to get a sponsor and to begin working the steps. When a newcomer hears these suggestions and immediately puts them into practice, there is a good chance that he or she has a good shot at sobriety. However, if the newcomer isn’t willing to do the work, then all the good intentions in the world will not keep them sober; and recovery will continue to elude them.
Personal Reflection: How is my program one of action?
A member was complaining that recently his garbage had not been picked up by his local sanitation department. He lives on a dead end street with 7 houses. The garbage truck periodically forgets to service his block. This usually happens when they are running behind schedule. If someone from the block calls the Sanitation Department, the truck will return and pick up the block’s garbage. On this occasion, the truck did not return. Why? For a simple reason. Everyone on the block assumed that another person had called. The aforementioned member realized that this was a good 12 step lesson. One of the things we learn in the program is to be of service. When we see something that needs to be done,we shouldn’t assume that it’s someone else’s job or responsibility. As soon as we see an opportunity for service, we should grab it. Whether it’s making coffee or going on a speaking commitment, our hand should be the first one raised. This of course extends to beyond the rooms as well. If someone asks for our help, we should feel good that they trust us enough to reach out to us. One of the greatest pleasures we can experience is creating something that didn’t exist before. Whether it’s starting a new meeting, creating a blog like this one or reaching out to become someone’s sponsor there is power in the act of creation.
Personal Reflection: How fast does my hand go up in life?