Updated: 24 February 2023 & medically reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon
Step 12 is the final part of the Alcoholics Anonymous process, one which prepares the participant to begin a new life and practice the lessons they have learned while helping others in need.
Step 12 asks those that reach it to take what they have learned and send it forward onto to other addicts while never losing sight of their own addiction.
Many people will not be able to reach Step 12 without having had help from their sponsor and the AA community throughout the process.
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What does the 12th Step of AA mean?
Step 12 of AA is the culmination of a momentous spiritual and life-changing journey. The previous 11 steps have taught the participant humility, respect, fearlessness in owning their mistakes, the need for a higher power to help govern their lives, and the practices needed to maintain sobriety.
Step 12 asks those that reach it to take what they have learned and send it forward onto to other addicts while never losing sight of their own addiction. The 12th step prayer reads as follows:
"try to carry the message to others."
This simple instruction underpins one of the core principles of AA, that we are all capable of being sober if helped by others.
Completing the 12 Steps of AA
While it is important and expected to feel a great deal of personal pride when completing the steps, it is also necessary to remember humility and purpose. Many people will not be able to reach Step 12 without having had help from their sponsor and the AA community throughout the process. This is why step 12 asks that you go out and help fellow addicts by practicing what you have learned this far.
This is why those going through AA can never truly complete the 12 steps. Instead, they are intended to be a set of guiding principles and daily rituals that the recovering addict can use to maintain sobriety while extending a helping hand to others who are in need.
Challenges of reaching the 12th Step
Though the 12 steps are intended to be an ongoing series of practices to help maintain sobriety, there are challenges that many people face when reaching the twelfth step. One of the primary issues is the feeling of ownership over addiction.
Those who go through the program can often feel like they have regained control of their dependence on alcohol and can begin to make concessions and excuses to drink again. They may feel that they can now drink in moderation or allow themselves “treat” drinks as a reward for good behavior. In almost all cases this attitude will lead to relapse and a need to start the 12 steps all over again.
Only through dedication to the 12 steps and abstaining from alcohol can anyone who has gone through the program maintain their sobriety. This is why AA is intended to be a lifelong community to whom anyone can turn when temptation hits or if they slip up during recovery.
If you or someone you know needs the support of the AA and the 12 Step program in order to tackle alcohol addiction, then search for a meeting in your area today.