How Quickly Should I Work the 12 Steps?

- June 8, 2022

The 12 Steps should be worked as quickly as possible based on rigorous honesty and thoroughness.  They are to be worked under the guidance of a sponsor, closed mouth friend or a member of the clergy.  Thoroughness is to be of paramount importance when taking these steps. The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book equates our work with that of building an arch through which we shall walk as free people.  It states that Step 3 is the cornerstone of this new arch we are building.  The previous steps could be considered as the foundation for our success.  The upcoming steps are the building and completion of our arch through which we shall walk.

There are a lot of different theories one hears around the fellowship.  I call them theories as they have no basis in the Big Book.  I consider the first 164 pages of the Big Book to be our guide through the steps.  To paraphrase the Forward to the 2nd Edition of the Big Book it states that…50% of those who came to AA got sober at once (This is assuming they took the steps).  Well, I’m no dummy, just alcoholic, so this sounded like pretty good odds to me.  So, if I did what this book says I had a 50/50 chance of staying sober.  So here is one more reason to work the steps quickly and with rigorous honesty; I had a better chance of staying sober over the long haul.

One of my favorite pieces of AA folklore is to “take one step a year.”  This just sounds plain idiotic to me.  On page 263 in the Big Book, it describes a person that Dr. Bob (one of out co-founders) took through the steps in three or four hours.  This was when out program was a six step program.  You may argue that this was before the Big Book and the Twelve Steps were written and you would be right.  Read the book entitled “Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers” and you will see where I am coming from.  I have done my due diligence on the program including searching out a member of the Oxford Group in person to see how they handled the alcoholics.

Some of these one step a year people have the newcomer stay very busy so they are too exhausted to drink.  Yes, we must be of service.  But the book states that we have to “fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and others.”  Otherwise, we may end up being more of a nuisance than helpful.  I can’t even fathom sitting on Step 4 for a year!  What I surmise here is a sponsor who has not completed the steps or is just plain lazy.   They are out there!  And some may even have a lot of sober time in the program. I was once at a speaker meeting and someone asked a question of the speaker who had about twelve years of sobriety.  The question was on Step 10.  The speaker’s reply was that she could not answer the question as she was only on Step 6.  I had to put her on my prayer list.

The steps are meant to be taken in order and then applied to our lives.  We are to waste no time as soon as our minds become defogged.  At this point alcoholism awaits us behind every nook and cranny in our existence.  I know for myself I wanted to be one of the 50% who got sober at once.  I was done when I got here. I had no time to play games with the program.  And for that I am eternally grateful.


Written by Phillip