12 Step Spirituality

Continuing the discussion from Question for those who favour shamanism/mysticism?:

Splitting this into a separate thread as it’s a valid point.

I try to work the steps 100% every day because anything less is the same as reaching for a drink. The steps don’t say I have to understand the intricacies of how my HP works, just that I need to use it/him/her in my recovery. Which I do.

My Higher Power is rather like my car. I’m damned if I understand how half of it works, but if I follow the rules I’ve been given (Steps) and perform the basic maintenance (prayer), it gets me to where I need to be when I need to be there. Anything beyond that I leave to experts.

I also understand that my recovery is a day-to-day thing and that I have to work at it (and share it) if I intend to keep my grip on it. In Bill W’s own words…

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do. . . . We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, page 85

So that’s where I’m at personally. Don’t know if it works for everyone, but it has worked for me for twenty-three years and counting.



One day…not today. …but another.

that’s great pixel. you enjoy a spiritual nature but nay say anything to do with God. I’d say you are fooling yourself dude. God is real and you posting all this about spirituality makes me bite my tongue. You know where I stand. I am a christian…but ohhhh noooo don’t mention it here on this forum or you’ll be deleted or locked…not fair I say.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with God or is just some psychological trick that benefits from how our brains are put together. I have no evidence one way or another. Over the years I have sponsored atheists, Jews, Christians, and even one (admittedly lax) Muslim. All have some serious recovery under their belts now. In every case I have told them to do what works for them.

The distinction here is that no one pushes their beliefs on another. Someone asked what I believed in relation to a thread I started. I answered. That’s not pushing.

If you want to witness your faith, that’s cool, it’s just not a good idea to do it here in this community. You’ve been around long enough to see how it sets off the less well members. That’s why you’ll notice I don’t talk about my own beliefs – which I’ve just admitted to having – much here, either. When I do so I try to limit it to the context of recovery from Sz and my booze addiction.

Make sense?


Yeah, I get you. but as a christian I believe He has more to offer than just “keep your beliefs to yourself”. I am ashamed of most christians for pushing their beliefs. I am not pushing. It just seemed a bit over the top that you talk of your spirituality but don’t allow others to talk of theirs. I will defer to you because you are my friend. I know most here don’t like christianity. I guess I was just feeling sorry for those who believe in Christ and get spit on for it. Carry on brother.

[quote=“pixel, post:1, topic:24322”]
Don’t know if it works for everyone, but it has worked for me for twenty-three years and counting.
[/quote]If it works for you for that long that is great.

[quote=“pixel, post:4, topic:24322”]
When I do so I try to limit it to the context of recovery from Sz and my booze addiction.
[/quote]Thats good to hear on this site, I feel like I am missing out becuase of the posts on hear with poeple drinking and talking about drinking and drugs.

I thought poeple were not supposed to post while using alcohol or drugs. This seriously confuses me. Does a higher power want me to drink and smoke weed and use drugs?

i feel that things are very individual, as with everything. My understanding of the 12 step approach at it’s core is a set of spiritual principles, & applying those principles to our lives. i have continued to do that, & don’t feel i need the formal 12 step structure to do that.

i have a friend who is coming up for 30 years sober - he’s never done a meeting in his life, he looked at 12 step & concluded the same thing, initially had some counselling & has followed a spiritual path since.

i have another friend who is 20 years clean/sober who is a staunch member of NA. He’s done incredibly well & i’m not knocking how he wants to live his life. But i think he’s also very stuck in certain ways with it all, & i think that people can get stuck. As i said in the other thread, i see it all personally as a boat/bridge across the river - Not an end in itself but as a beginning of our own spiritual journey.

i suppose it’s horses for courses. 12 step does do what it says on the tin, & i am grateful for it. i also think that there is a lot that is wrong with it all. Some people seem very suited to it all & others not so. 12 step doesn’t have any kind of a monopoly on spirituality, nor recovery - just as many people recover without it all, & 12 step rates of recovery are no different to non 12 step rates - this has been documented. As per the Orange papers, i think aspects of 12 step can veer to being cult like.

At core the steps helped lead me to a deeper exploration of spirituality & in trying to live my life as best i can along more spiritual lines. To me that is the core message of it all. Over 6 years without a meeting & am going strong, & unless things were very dire i won’t be going back to it all. We’re all on our own path.

Hi @velociraptor

I trained as a 12 Step facilitator , I just think , its vacuous.

But I concede some are helped.

I personally know thousands of people it has helped. Also should note that over the years I’ve seen hundreds of people come to one meeting and then flee – wasn’t any help to them. If it works for you, great. If not, move on. At least the program doesn’t suck up govt money.


Alright , you probably know how i am. I’m just not in to it. If its helped , I can’t criticise that.

An interesting book of critical analysis on the Dominance of 12 step in mainstream recovery -

The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-step Programs and the Rehab Industry
by Lance Dodes, Zachary Dodes

Recent discoveries (that i’d think have been long know to some) & apply just as much to others areas of mental health -

i read that Bill W considered the 12 steps & program baby steps to instil a basic spirituality into people. My impression is that a lot of that core message has been lost, & that the core principles of the original approach have become too watered down, formulaic & dogmatic. A lot i think is also Not relevant in the same way to the more modern World & it’s problems compared to the time it was first introduced. It hasn’t moved with the times, & changes to society/culture - & it needs to, imo.

12 Step is from the Judeo/Christian culture/framework - it’s Not genuinely non-religious/integral - it also is too exclusive to addiction/alcoholism & there is not enough understanding perspective on associated problems. There are authoritarian/conformist/Patriarchal undertones - which can be seen very clearly with DRA. In general principle i don’t have any problem with it all, but in practice there is a lot in it that i don’t think is too healthy.

i found very little understanding generally for the dual diagnosis - a lot was blamed on addiction & there was a lot of opinion from people as if they were professional doctors, social workers, & other kinds of experts, when really they knew f*ck all. i didn’t find any kind of deep sense of belonging, understanding, empathy, validation or support, although i have met some good people around the rooms. i felt blamed for my mental health difficulties, that taking medication was using & that if i worked the steps better then it would resolve the mental health issues.

i also found there to be a lot of sickness & bad energy around the rooms.

That’s me - why i’m not a member & haven’t been for 6 years. i don’t knock it too much though as for some people i think it does work incredibly well. A lot of it may simply be who i am as a person & that i’m Not that suited to a group type of environment - whereas i think some people thrive in it all.

Just my general personal opinion on it all. i could go into a long criticism of the entire thing, but don’t think that would be helpful.

It saved my life, so I can’t complain.

What does all of this have to do with shamanism. I think that that is just fine if they can help our world be more on the right track, but it means little to me personally because we should all have a special insight and offer our own unique way of offering help and advice to those in need of getting more on the same page. I think that we can read any one post of any one individual and it should be as a fractal of the main theme they are expressing.

He did in his earlier writings. Later on he admitted that he was too pushy when it came to spirituality and it’s possible that damage caused by chasing away those less spiritual was possibly even fatal to them. This was the mid to late sixties when the spiritual aspect of AA was cranked back some and became much less in-your-face. A good thing, I think.

At the time AA arrived on the scene, a hopeless drunk was truly a hopeless drunk. The medical profession was left grasping at straws. Today I think we’ve arrived at the point where AA is simply one tool out of many to choose from. Some are able to quit using antabuse. Some through government programs. It’s all good. The more recovery tools available to people and the more choices they have, the better. I dislike it when I see AA members pushing AA as the only way to quit drinking. That’s simply not true. It is, however, a time-tested and proven method for a large enough group of people for the program to have earned its stripes and claim legitimacy.


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Nothing. That’s why I split this out into a separate topic.


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All sorts went on - He seriously tried to get LSD therapy incorporated as an integral part of the program. His profound experience of God was had when he was on mescaline. i’m more keen on NA than AA

With early AA groups there was also a very comprehensive support put in place for newcomers - the way it operates in a lot of places today is very different to how it all initially operated.

i suppose the spirituality thing is very individual & personal. i didn’t find exclusively focusing on 12 step satisfying for my own path - horses for courses.

I just find it amusing how many NA and CA members prefer to come to AA meetings because their own meetings are so frequently “out there”. Also worth mentioning: Of course Bill W was a complete nutter! You don’t go to AA looking to meet healthy people. :wink:

Agree that newcomers need more support, but not sure if the old way of practically sitting on them would go over well today. Like you said, the program needs to change to reflect the times somewhat. This is a possible change. Still not sure how that has worked out.


They’re all certainly mad in different ways at meetings, some more than others. i started by attending AA, NA & CA - & then just focused on NA, which i like the best. If i went back to a meeting, baring a full scale relapse, it would be CoDA or ACA, & i think those are the healthiest healing environments & more comprehensive/understandings approaches. But even then i think there are limitations with those groups/approaches as well.

i was recently asked if i wanted to be introduced to Huna meetings, i was attending a spiritual circle, have attended a few different ones. A recent Theosophical society meeting i went to, which i go to sometimes. Was also attending a Native American Traditional healing group. Have been involved in all sorts - But there isn’t anything that i feel completely at home at.

i wrote to the NA World Service Office earlier in the year expressing my concerns about the growing issue of people with dual diagnosis & explosion in use of prescribed medications. i went into my own experiences with it all. i did get a lot of information, more recently updated & new, with guidelines around it all. But i wonder how much members in general are aware of everything concerning these areas, & in applying the suggestions around it all? The principle of ‘no opinion on outside matters’ & to seek the advice of medical professionals didn’t seem to be taken too seriously.

Amen, bro. (“The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”)

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38 years in AA, NA, SLAA, EA, CoDA & ACA (at different times). I (badly) needed what I needed when I needed it. I learned to wear the 12 Steps lightly and let go of my conflicts about the 12 Step philosophies and populations; my totalistic, black & white legalism; and my anxious attachments… but it took time. I have tried to take the best and leave the rest. I can go to meetings now (mostly CoDA and AA 11th Step meditation meetings anymore) and use them to help me see, hear and feel… and to continue to climb out of the bipolar paranoid box.

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