What is the purpose of the 12 Steps?

All addicts, alcoholics, compulsive gamblers, sex addicts and codependents have the following focus – Me, Myself and I.

This one of the main motivations for seeking treatment or recovery. This ‘me, myself and I’ focus is hurting too much. The addiction no longer works to relieve the pain.

It’s like a piece of glass in your pocket

Imagine you have a piece of glass like that below and carried it around with you at all times to help keep you focused.

me 2 we glass

The edges of the glass are constantly chipped at, with each sharp edge cutting us. And, we are aware of that pain, except sometimes when drinking/ drugging. The pain of addiction gets worse over time.

That’s what any compulsive behaviour does, including addiction. It keeps one focused on ‘Me, Myself & I.’

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has a lot to say about this self focus;

… Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

Our actor is self-centered – ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?

Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!

From the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous; pp 61-2.

What happens in 12 Step Fellowships

Now turn the glass upside down and find out what happens in 12 Step Fellowships. From the other side it looks like this …

me 2 we 2 glass

Yes, the 12 Steps lead us to focus on we, us and ours.

The first word of the 1st Step (see below) is “We …”. Recovery begins when ‘we’ is substituted for ‘me’, and we are no longer isolated within our addiction.

Recovery smoothes the sharp edges and the pain lessens over time.

But, as I, and many people have found, addiction and glass are brittle and can be easily broken. However, braking the addiction or glass does not solve the problem, there is still an attitude adjustment needed.

I could also flip the glass back the other way at anytime and have a ‘bust’ or become a ‘dry drunk’.

It means that life will be turned upside down whenever our focus is changed. Breaking the focus of a lifetime involves a Spiritual Awakening and practicing the program.

So if we focus on the ‘we’ we will become happy, joyous and free and willingness is the key.

First Step of Alcoholics Anonymous ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.’

Related Reading:

Seven Days Sober: A Guide to Discovering What You Really Think About Your Drinking
EatingWell Serves Two: 150 Healthy in a Hurry Suppers
The 12 Steps as a  Path to Enlightenment: How the Buddha Works the Steps
The Healthy Green Drink Diet: Advice and Recipes to Energize, Alkalize, Lose Weight, and Feel Great