We hear a lot of talk around the program regarding the “tools.” Just what are these tools and how do we use them? Probably the first tool is to stop drinking or using and stay stopped. Just how do we do this? One way is to go to rehab for a period of time. Most rehabs start off with a medical detox process tailored to the substance being used. During this time of detox, it is wise for the patient to eat well and get lots of sleep. Detox can be uncomfortable, but it is something we have to go through. Medication is given however, to help ease this discomfort.
After completion of detox the patient is generally introduced to the 12-step program. This is where the tools of the program are learned. One of the first tools to rid oneself of cravings is to talk to someone. Sharing what is going on with us helps to minimize the problem. Another important tool is meditation. This helps to quiet the mind and alleviate destructive thoughts. We may at first be able to meditate for a minute or two. As we practice this tool the time, we are able to meditate will increase. This will help immensely to quiet the mind.
Another very important tool is to go to 12 step meetings. Here we hear others share their experience strength and hope. We identify with others who have similar stories to ours. We hear people share how they got through a particularly bad situation using the tools. It is in this identification process with others that we at first are able to grow in the program. We begin to learn what we can change and cannot change through the use of the Serenity Prayer. This prayer is usually recited at the beginning of the meeting by the entire group. It appears to call the group to order and to begin the meeting.
Prayer to our Higher Power is also of utmost importance. We can pause anywhere at anytime and say a prayer silently. Some form of set prayers are also helpful to begin and end one’s day. We may use the Serenity Prayer, 3rd step prayer, 7th step prayer or the prayer of St, Francis of Assisi which is found in step 11 in the 12×12. If we are religiously inclined, we may find prayers from out religion which can be very helpful.
Once we complete the inventory process, we can do a spot check inventory to make sure we are acting appropriately. We may ask for guidance from our Higher Power in dealing with a given situation. We may also ask for removal of any of our defects that are standing in our way at the time. We may also pray to be useful to our fellows.
Use of the 12 step slogans can also help us get through a rough situation. First things first can help us to prioritize what needs to be done. Think, think, think can help us think through a drink and maintain our sobriety. Live and let live can help us to show patience and understanding to others.
This list of 12 step tools is not all inclusive. There are many more tools to be found in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12×12. The more we use the tools the more easily they come to mind when necessary. After we are firmly grounded in the program, we are able to share the tools with others. After all, you have to give it away to keep it!