Twelve step recovery fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous are a big part of recovery for many people who get help for an alcohol or drug problem. One of the principles of twelve step programs is that those with more experience help newcomers to recovery or people who still struggle with alcoholism or addiction. The twelfth step in these programs involves helping others and spreading the message of recovery. When someone in one of these programs shows up to help another addict or alcoholic in crisis, it is sometimes referred to as a 12th step call.
What is a 12th Step Call?
The twelfth step in many recovery programs is about helping other alcoholics and addicts to recover. This can include sponsorship and service opportunities, but for some people, it includes physically meeting an active addict or alcoholic who has reached out for help. It can be, in a lot of ways, similar to crisis intervention- but instead of involving professional clinicians or interventionists, in these cases, twelve-step fellowship members simply show up to assist a struggling addict or alcoholic. For example, if someone is actively using and drinking, and they are upset and desperate for help, they may call someone they know who is in recovery. When that person shows up to meet them and offers to take them to a meeting, to a detox, to treatment, or to the hospital, that is known as a 12th step call.
Should I Make a 12th Step Call?
These situations offer an opportunity for people in recovery to help another and to give back, but they can also be very emotional and chaotic. For people in early recovery, going on a 12th step call can create some potential pitfalls. It’s best to consult with one’s sponsor or therapist before attempting a twelfth step call. There is always a chance that someone in active addiction could have drugs or alcohol at their home, which can create a lot of difficult feelings and may be triggering to some people.
It is generally recommended that people new to recovery abstain from making 12th step calls, or that they wait until they have completed their own step work so that they are better equipped to share the message of recovery through the twelve steps. However, deciding if and when to do this kind of service work is a very personal decision and ultimately it is always up to the individual. There are a few tips that can protect your sobriety during a 12th step call, and a few things to avoid for everyone’s safety.
Do’s and Dont’s of a 12th Step Call
If you decide to go on a 12th step call in early sobriety, there are a few things you can do to avoid a relapse or another dangerous situation:
- Contact your sponsor before going and ask for their suggestions
- Bring someone with you- your sponsor, a strong sober support, or someone with a good foundation of recovery who can help
- Keep in touch with your sponsor throughout the process if they can’t come with you
- Make it brief- offer to call a professional or take them to detox, but if they don’t want help, don’t try to convince them
- Ask for help. If you get in over your head, it’s vital that you call the appropriate person, whether that’s emergency services or an interventionist. Don’t stay in a potentially risky situation.
- Put your sobriety first. If you need to leave, then leave immediately. If you don’t protect your own sobriety, you can’t be of any help to anyone else.
There are some very important things to avoid during a 12th step call. Most importantly, you need to remember that you can’t provide professional help (unless you are licensed to do so.) If the person you are trying to help has overdosed, is threatening suicide or violence, is too intoxicated to function properly, or is otherwise posing a danger to themselves, to you, or to anyone else, you need to call the police and emergency services. Unfortunately, sometimes people need more help than we as individuals can give to them. In these cases, the only way to help them and protect yourself is to call on people who are trained to deal with crises.
12th step calls can be scary but very rewarding. Getting help for addiction is always necessary, and sometimes a twelfth step call can help someone get the care that they need from a professional. If you need help for yourself or for someone else, call All About Recovery today at 888-712-8480 for information about addiction treatment programs.