Sobriety is Just the Beginning

Avoiding stagnation in recovery and going beyond the 12 steps

Say Zen


Photo by Aral Tasher on Unsplash

The 12 Steps and Stagnation

I have a friend who’s been sober about the same amount of time as me — roughly a decade. She’s a 12-step enthusiast, and devotes a large part of her free time every week to attending meetings, listening to talks, studying the Big Book, and working as a sponsor. She pours herself into the program with the zeal of someone who’s newly sober, and as if her sobriety, and therefore her life, depended on it. But despite genuinely wanting to support the effort she puts into her recovery, I can’t help but feel that, even with all the work she’s still doing, her recovery is stagnant, and unstable: she is frozen at the threshold of her sobriety, and it’s the 12-step program that keeps her stuck here.

I’ve attended 12-step meetings here and there during my own recovery, and even facilitated a 12-step Buddhist group. These experiences were helpful for me, especially since they connected me to a community of people who were also trying to get or stay sober. Some of the steps and instructions gave me helpful practices and perspective on my own experience, though I don’t really do this work anymore. That’s because thankfully, I don’t really feel like I have to. While I want to continue to take very good care…