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.
Service vs. Stagnation
As the individual begins to experience transcendence, a sense of being a part of something greater than oneself grows within him or her. The addict begins to believe that the universe is for them, not against them, and they begin to see their part in the flow of life and where they fit in. The once narrow perspective and world view of the addict, has now opened up to include most, if not all, of life. This is the spiritual awakening referred to in this step. It is the awakening of the addict’s true self, which results in a feeling of connectedness, a clearer sense of reality, trust in other people, and in the bigger picture. A sense of purpose and meaning is gained as the addict puts the needs of others ahead of their own wants and/or desires. He or she begins to experience true happiness in being of service to his or her fellows. They see that they can help others who are like them along with a growing recognition of the similarities with all humans on some level, which increases their feelings of self-worth and self-respect. This, in turn, creates a greater self-esteem and an upward spiral of self-efficacy.
As the addict shares their “experience, strength and hope” (AAWSI, 1955) with others, they are constantly reminded of where they came from. Working with others reminds them of where they could be if they stop growing spiritually. In addition, the willingness to be a channel of their Higher Power’s will, continues the healing process within them. Just as water running through a pipe leaves a slight residue, the flow of spiritual power through the individual also leaves a residue of that power. If the individual does not give away what they have received, the vitality of the experience is eventually lost, as are the benefits of that experience. Stagnation, and eventual relapse are the inevitable consequences.
Does this mean that all clients who complete the steps with their counselor or therapist, are to go out and become therapists? Or that they no longer need therapy? Of course not. The recovered individual must still deal with everyday life; with the sometimes heartbreaking events that occur in human endeavors. It simply means that he or she will be much better equipped to deal with those events, as well as happy and joyous events, without having to resort to self-destructive, addictive behaviors. It also means that he or she will be able to reach out and get the help and support needed to continue to live a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.