Working with Others
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail.
“Any A.A. who has not experienced the joys and satisfaction of helping another alcoholic regain his place in life has not yet fully realized the complete benefits of this fellowship.” (A.A. Sponsorship Pamphlet. 1944. Clarence S.)
How it important is it for A.A. members to work newcomers? Our Big Book says:
“Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 89)
“This seemed to prove that one alcoholic could affect another as no nonalcoholic (non-addict) could. It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic (recovered member) with another (newcomer), was vital to permanent recovery.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 3rd ed. xvi)
“We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 132)
“But if you are shaky you had better work with another alcoholic instead.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 102)
“Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 97)
“I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
- Sense of duty.
- It is a pleasure.
- Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
- Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.” (Alcoholics Anonymous. 180)
“THE joy of living is the theme of A.A.’s Twelfth Step, and action is its key word. Here we turn outward toward our fellow alcoholics who are still in distress. Here we experience the kind of giving that asks no rewards. Here we begin to practice all Twelve Steps of the program in our daily lives so that we and those about us may find emotional sobriety. When the Twelfth Step is seen in its full implication; it is really talking about the kind of love that has no price tag on it.
Our Twelfth Step also says that as a result of practicing all the Steps, we have each found something called a spiritual awakening. To new A.A.’s, this often seems like a very dubious and improbable state of affairs. “What do you mean when you talk about a ‘spiritual awakening’?” they ask.
Maybe there are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are people who have had them. But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others. And these things which they have in common are not too hard to understand. When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tells him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he had hitherto denied himself. He finds himself in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind, and love of which he had thought himself quite incapable. What he has received is a free gift, and yet usually, at least in some small part, he has made himself ready to receive it.”