answering the call, 12 step service.

With the advent of treatment centers, detox centers and rehabilitation facilities, more and more A.A.’s are seeking guidelines for answering a 12 step call, the way our founders did way back when in the early days of our fellowship.

The 1998 Conference Literature Committee considered a pamphlet on making Twelfth step calls that was complied and in use by Area 25 (Kansas). Although Conference committee members felt this was fine for local use they emphasized the importance of “How it Works” in the Big Book, as well as seeking guidance through sponsorship, the experience of older members and 12 step workshops.

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

1. Return calls ASAP – Call back immediately to listen, share and arrange a time and place to meet at an appropriate place, not 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 whenever 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 the prospect from the family if you can (suggest Al-Anon for family members) – Too many people interupting to influence 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 stay.

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

6. Share how it was, your own dunk-a-log –  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 is progressive and can end with insanity or early death. Describe the conditions of the 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 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 yourself. Use everyday language and avoid arousing prejudice against theological terms and conceptions. 

10. Share how it is your now 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 a 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 12 step work with other alcoholics.