The Old Fashioned 12 Step Call

How Do You Make An Old-Fashioned Twelfth Step Call?

With many treatment facilities closing their doors, more and more A.A.’s are seeking guidelines for making old-fashioned Twelfth Step calls.

The 1998 Conference Literature Committee considered a pamphlet on making Twelfth Step calls that was compiled and in use by Area 25 (Kansas). Although Conference committee members felt this effort was fine for local use, they emphasized the importance of the use of “How It Works” in the Big Book, as well as seeking guidance through sponsorship, the experience of older members and workshops.

One such workshop was held last spring by the Answering Services Committee of the Elmira (New York) Area Intergroup. The area’s second Twelfth Step workshop, developed its program along lines of the G.S.O.’s service piece “Suggested Workshop Format.” Out of the workshop experience has come some suggested guidelines. Because they have proven so useful, the committee has shared them with G.S.O., as follows, in the hope that others will be helped too:

1. Return calls ASAP. Call back immediately to listen, share and arrange a time and place to meet-but not at a bar. If you are called to a bar, go there only to pick the person up and, preferably, to get him or her to a meeting.

2. Twelfth Step in pairs, with a same-sex member if possible. Twelfth‑Step calls can be intense, and there is safety in numbers. Besides, two heads are better than one. Be punctual and look your best.

3. Twelfth Step when the prospect is sober or fairly sober. Calls on intoxicated alcoholics seldom work because of blackouts. Wait for the end of a spree or a lucid interval when the prospect is still jittery.

4. During home calls, separate prospect from family if you can (suggest Al‑Anon for family members). Too many people butting in to influence you about the “bad guy” can be disruptive. Learn from experienced A.A.s how to interact with family or significant others on the scene, and when it is wiser to leave than to stay:

5. Suggest detox/rehab if needed. If such is indicated, arrange with family or significant others, with prospect’s permission if possible. Should violence seem imminent, leave. If necessary, make the appropriate phone call.

6. Share how it was (your own drunkalog). Don’t moralize or lecture or brand prospects as “alcoholics.” That decision is theirs-even as to tossing out alcohol they have on hand. Detail your own symptoms, drinking habits and other personal experiences with alcohol.

7. Share your understanding of the disease of alcoholism. Let the person know that this disease is progressive and can end with insanity or early death. Describe the conditions of body, mind and spirit that accompany alcoholism.

8. Share exactly what happened to you. The prospect will probably want to know how long you have been in A.A. and how you got and stayed sober.

9. Share your A.A. experience. Share how A.A. has worked for you and helped you to regain your sanity while maintaining sobriety, how it has led to being willing to believe in a power greater than self. Use everyday language and avoid arousing prejudice against theological terms and conceptions.

10. Share how it is now-your recovery program and spirituality. Outline the A.A. program of action and emphasize that this isn’t the somber end of something (preferably drinking) but the start of a challenging, rewarding way of living based on spiritual principles.

11. Leave a meeting schedule, A.A. pamphlets and your phone number; and make one follow-up visit or phone call. Offer to return for further questions, and help with transportation to a meeting if possible. Mention Al-Anon meetings available to family members and significant others.

12. Understand that success means YOU are still sober. Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive Twelfth Step work with other alcoholics.

Reprinted with permission from Box 459, Vol. 44 #5.

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