Understanding The Twelve Steps

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by Terence T. Gorski
Author

Millions of people have transformed their lives by working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their success has come from their ability to truly understand these principles and to apply them in their daily lives. Yet for many embarking on the road to recovery, the Steps can seem vague, even confusing.

This practical, no-nonsense guide takes the mystery out of the Twelve Steps, presenting a straightforward explanation of what each step means, as well as examples of how it translates to real life. Written by a certified alcoholism and drug abuse counselor with more than twenty years of experience, it offers a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and genuine support for anyone in recovery.
Understanding the Twelve Steps features:

Clear, easy-to-understand interpretation of the Twelve Steps — the vital building blocks of recovery.
This book provides checklists that summarize the tasks and objectives of each step.

This book explains:

– The Twelve Promises are the positive changes you can expect in your life if you follow the Twelve Steps

– What happens at Twelve Step meetings

– Why it is important to have a sponsor

– How the 12-step Program allows recovering people to share their experience, strength, and hope

From Library Journal

This highly accessible guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that comes at a time when the popularity of such programs are at an all-time high. Drawing on his experience as an alcohol/substance abuse counselor, Gorski (author of Passages Through Recovery , HarperCollins, 1989) interprets each of the steps, and explains their importance in the recovery process.

This book provides valuable insight into how the steps can be “worked” or used by those trying to abstain from alcohol is also provided. While Melody Beattie’s Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps (Prentice Hall Pr., 1990) focuses on the steps as they apply to people dealing with codependent issues, Gorski’s primary audience is the alcoholic. However, those newly involved in other 12-step programs (i.e., Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.) will gain better understanding from this. Recommended for popular psychology and self-help collections.

– Linda S. Greene, Chicago

Back to Understanding the Twelve Steps: An Interpretation and Guide for Recovering (Paperback)
About this item
Product Description
Millions of people have transformed their lives by working the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Their success has come from their ability to truly understand these principles and to apply them in their daily lives. Yet for many embarking on the road to recovery, the Steps can seem vague, even confusing.
This practical, no-nonsense guide takes the mystery out of the Twelve Steps, presenting a straightforward explanation of what each step means, as well as examples of how it translates to real life. Written by a certified alcoholism and drug abuse counselor with more than twenty years of experience, it offers a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and genuine support for anyone in recovery.
Understanding the Twelve Steps features:
Clear, easy-to-understand interpretation of the Twelve Steps — the vital building blocks of recovery
Checklists that summarize the tasks and objectives of each step
The Twelve Promises — the positive changes you can expect in your life if you follow the Twelve Steps
What happens at Twelve Step meetings and why it is important to have a sponsor
The experiences, strength, and hope of other recovering people

From Library Journal
This highly accessible guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous comes at a time when the popularity of such programs are at an all-time high. Drawing on his experience as an alcohol/substance abuse counselor, Gorski ( Passages Through Recovery , HarperCollins, 1989) interprets each of the steps, and explains their importance in the recovery process. Valuable insight into how the steps should be “worked” or used by those trying to abstain from alcohol is also provided. While Melody Beattie’s Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps (Prentice Hall Pr., 1990) focuses on the steps as they apply to people dealing with codependent issues, Gorski’s primary audience is the alcoholic. However, those newly involved in other 12-step programs (i.e., Al-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, etc.) will gain better understanding from this. Recommended for popular psychology and self-help collections.
– Linda S. Greene, Chicago
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author
Terence T. Gorski is the president of The CENAPS Corporation, a training and consultation firm specializing in recovery from addictive disease and relapse prevention therapy. He is a popular speaker and conducts training and workshops in more than twenty different cities each year.

Mr. Gorski is the author of numerous books, audio, and video tapes, including Passages Through Recovery — An Action Plan for Preventing Relapse, Staying Sober — A Guide for Relapse Prevention, The Staying Sober Work-book, and How to Start Relapse Prevention Support Groups.

He is the clinical director of the National Relapse Prevention Certification School, which trains counselors and therapists in relapse prevention therapy methods.

Here is an excerpt from the book. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: WHAT IS A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM?

This book describes the single, most effective program for the treatment of alcoholism. That program, of course, is Alcoholics Anonymous, best known as A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other in an effort to recover from alcoholism. It is a voluntary fellowship. No one is forced to belong, but millions of voluntary members benefit greatly from their involvement. If you want to make Twelve Step programs work for you, you need to understand the fellowship of A.A. and how to work with it. This book is intended to help you do just that.

Many people find the miracle of sobriety by working the Twelve Steps. Since nothing else has worked for them, many believe that the Steps are mystical and magical, and, as a result, these same persons fail to search for and identify the underlying principles that make them work. Working the Steps can create the miracle of sobriety, but the miracle isn’t magic. The miracle occurs because working the Twelve Steps allows people to use powerful principles of recovery. Those who are willing to dig beneath the surface and truly understand the principles upon which the Steps are based are better able to use the principles in their lives.

The primary purpose of A.A. is to help alcoholics stop drinking. It was never intended to be all things to all people; however, A.A. recognizes that the Twelve Steps can help people with other problems. Thus, it allows organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Marijuana Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and others to use its Steps and principles. These related fellowships are developing as separate organizations so that A.A. can keep its primary focus on helping alcoholics to stop drinking.

A.A. is based upon a program of Twelve Steps to recovery that act as a personal guide to sobriety, and Twelve Traditions that act as guiding principles or bylaws for A.A. as a whole. Knowledge of the Twelve Steps is of critical importance to all recovering people for two reasons: (1) The Steps work if you work them, and (2) Twelve Step programs are inexpensive and readily available in most communities. As a result, they are the most widely used lifeline for people recovering from chemical dependence, codependence, and other compulsive or addictive disorders.

A.A. AS A NONPROFESSIONAL GROUP

As a result of the Traditions, A.A. is and shall forever remain nonprofessional. There are no medical professionals, as such, involved in designing or running A.A. or other Twelve Step programs. Although medical professionals do join as members, they have no more or no less influence on the organization than other members. Twelve Step programs do not provide medical or psychiatric treatment or psychotherapy. If you are involved in any Twelve Step program that has a psychotherapist in charge who runs it like a therapy group, be cautious. You are probably not at a Twelve Step meeting. This situation rarely, if ever, occurs in A.A.; however, it does happen in some of the newer Twelve Step programs.

If you are attending a Twelve Step meeting that is run by a psychotherapist who individually counsels the members, it is not a Twelve Step meeting; it is a therapy group. It is important to learn the difference, because Twelve Step meetings are based on the Twelve Steps of A.A. and the leaders act in a nonprofessional role.

A.A. members help themselves and others to stay sober. Members can be assured that they are not going to be solicited for donations or asked to get involved in anything else. Individual members of A.A. do have the right to participate in any religion, political forum, or cause that they wish. There are no restrictions. But they are not allowed to present themselves as A.A. members or to bring the name of A.A. into any controversy.

LEVELS OF TWELVE STEP INVOLVEMENT

Nobody is forced to do anything in A.A. It is one of the few organizations I know that supports the inherent constitutional right to do what we want. There is no coercion to participate on any level. If you want to belong, that’s fine. You are welcome to attend meetings and work the Steps. If you don’t want to belong, that’s also fine.

For most members, however, their involvement progresses through a number of levels. At the first level, they attend meetings. At the second, they read Twelve Step literature and discuss it with other members of the program. At the third level, they get a sponsor who can show them how the program works. At the fourth level, they start working the Twelve Steps. As members start to grow and change — a result of attending meetings and working the Steps — they are ready to move to a fifth level of involvement and begin sponsoring others. After they gain experience as sponsors, they are then ready for the sixth level of involvement, general service work, guided by A.A.’s Twelve Traditions, the set of principles that act as bylaws. General service work is designed to benefit A.A. as a whole. Notice the progression: Individuals help themselves first, then they help other people in the program, then they help the program as a whole. In summary, the levels of involvement are as follows:

1. Attending meetings

2. Reading and discussing A.A. literature

3. Getting a sponsor

4. Working the Twelve Steps

5. Sponsoring others

6. Service guided by the Traditions

Attending Meetings

You start working a Twelve Step program by regularly attending meetings. In A.A. it is said, “If you bring the body, the mind will follow,” because the Twelve Step program rubs off on people if they hang around long enough. Attending meetings isn’t a passive process. Working a program means you need to get actively involved, participating at the meetings you attend. The easiest way to take part is to say, “I pass” — a perfectly acceptable remark. No one in a Twelve Step program is obligated to say more. Most people, however, want to say more because they find it both enjoyable and beneficial. The more open and honest your comments, the faster you get well.

There is a joke that asks, “What is the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic?” Answer: “A drunk doesn’t have to go to meetings; an alcoholic does!” A.A. stresses the importance of attending meetings, especially during the first three months of sobriety. Many members suggest attending ninety meetings in ninety days. By doing “ninety in ninety,” beginners receive an intense exposure to the Twelve Step program and the people who use it. The principle that underlies doing “ninety in ninety” is a simple one — the more meetings you attend early on, the greater your chances of long-term recovery. There is no rule, of course, that you have to attend exactly ninety meetings in the first ninety days; go as often as your lifestyle allows. But keep in mind that the more meetings you attend, the faster you will get well.

Many members complain about having to attend meetings, but those who recover keep going even when they don’t feel like it. You don’t have to like going to meetings, you just have to keep going. Meetings are the lifeline to sobriety. When you attend meetings, you take a needed time-out from an alcohol- and drug-centered world and remind yourself that you are an alcoholic, cannot safely use alcohol and other drugs, and that you need the fellowship of other sober alcoholics to stay sober.

Reading Twelve Step Literature

The second level of involvement is to read Twelve Step literature and discuss your reactions, both positive and negative, with other members. The early members of A.A. identified the basic principles needed to get sober and stay that way. They compiled that information in two books — Alcoholics Anonymous (often called the Big Book) and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Both books are available from the central office of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York City. These books provide the basic principles needed to begin living the sober life.

Getting a Sponsor

After you feel comfortable going to meetings, making comments, and reading the basic literature, the third level of involvement is to get a sponsor. A sponsor is another member of the Twelve Step program who has more experience at recovery than you do. In order to get a sponsor, you must have participated in the program long enough to get to know people. Listen to the comments of others. Try to find someone you respect and admire, someone who knows more than you do about the program and can show you the ropes. In the business world, a sponsor is called a mentor.

When you find such a person and ask him or her to be your sponsor, you are in essence asking, “Would you be willing to spend time with me and teach me how you work the program?” There’s a slogan in the Twelve Step program: “If you want what we have, you do what we did.” And it’s primarily in the sponsorship relationship that this principle comes alive. You find a sponsor who has the type of recovery you would like to have, ask him to teach you what steps he took, and then try to do those things in your recovery.

A therapist does not take the place of a sponsor. You need a Twelve Step sponsor even if you have the best therapist in the world. A good therapist will encourage recovering people to become involved in Twelve Step programs and to get a sponsor. As a therapist, I don’t mandate Twelve Step attendance, but I do strongly encourage it. If someone refuses to attend even one meeting to see what the organization is all about, I may say, “If you’re not willing to go to Twelve Step meetings, I’m not willing to treat you. Why? Because if you’re not willing to go and find out what Twelve Step programs involve, I don’t think you really want to do what’s necessary to recover.” I base this attitude on an A.A. slogan: “We must be willing to go to any lengths to get sober.” If you are not willing to clear a few evenings and attend some meetings, I question your willingness …p

About the Author
Terence T. Gorski is the president of The CENAPS Corporation, a training and consultation firm specializing in recovery from addictive disease and relapse prevention therapy. He is a popular speaker and conducts training and workshops in more than twenty different cities each year.

Mr. Gorski is the author of numerous books, audio, and video tapes, including Passages Through Recovery — An Action Plan for Preventing Relapse, Staying Sober — A Guide for Relapse Prevention, The Staying Sober Work-book, and How to Start Relapse Prevention Support Groups.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0671765582?pc_redir=1399803668&robot_redir=1

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