The 12th Step: The Importance of Giving Back

The 12th Step: The Importance of Giving Back

It’s an ongoing journey. Pay it forward.

The 12th step of AA reads: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” Once we’ve made our way through the steps and feel relatively confident in our recoveries, we start to think about giving back to the community that helped us get healthy. Early in recovery, we might falsely believe that there are 12 steps that we must complete and then we’re “finished.” Once we’ve been working the program for a while, we realize that this isn’t true. Here are a few valuable lessons to be learned from this “final” step of the program.

Give It Away To Keep It

The 12th step helps us integrate all of the steps. The steps are ever-unfolding lessons that are not stagnant. They are dynamic and change, just as we change and grow throughout recovery. A step may seem completely different to us, depending on our life circumstances at the moment we approach it. Step 12 helps us to fully integrate the previous steps. We start to reflect on our progress and spiritual journey and decide what messages we want to carry forward in order to help others. 

We become more empathetic. This step teaches us to reach out to others and “pay it forward” so to speak. We are asked to consider the lives and recoveries of our peers and those who are new to the program with the same rigor that we consider our own. This teaches us empathy and compassion, two invaluable lessons. 

Others can learn from our experiences. When we first walk into those rooms, we might feel alone, scared, helpless, or defeated. It helps to look to those who have been through the process and who have gained wisdom from the steps. Our presence and experience can help those who don’t have anywhere to turn, just as we learned from those who came before us.


Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138

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