The Healing Place

Guest Blog: Successful Consummation

Guest Blog: Successful Consummation

I am about to offer a potentially inflammatory statement: 12 Step programs for recovery from substance addiction are NOT self-help groups. They are quite the opposite. They are Other help groups. The addict learns to depend both on some Other (a Higher Power) and many others (the fellowship), and the addict learns to be an agent for the Other by taking the message to other addicts. This process is clearly stated in the 12th Step.

The first 164 pages of the Textbook of Alcoholics Anonymous, first published in 1939, clearly states the consensus experience of the first one hundred men and women who found a “successful consummation (p.25).” They met frequently to bring fellowship to the newcomer (pp. 15 – 16). They emphasize that when a message-taker first meets with an interested prospect, dual notice is given: 1) the opportunity to share helps the sharer’s recovery, and 2) the sharer hopes that the prospect, when recovering, will then help other alcoholics. Each one places “…the welfare of other people ahead of his own (p. 94).”

Fifty years after those experiences were put to paper, a research study confirms the wisdom, and the necessity of this approach. In a study of inpatient-treatment patients ten years after discharge, 91% of patients who stayed involved in AA, who kept going to meetings, and who continuously sponsored other AA members had uninterrupted sobriety for ten years.It works if you work it -- when you work it for others.


Cross, Gerald M., Morgan, Charles W., Mooney, All J., III, Martin, Carolyn, and Rafter, John. “Alcoholism Treatment: A Ten Year Follow-Up Study.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.Vol. 14, No. 2. March. 1990.

**Quinn Chipley M.A., M.D., Ph.D. is the Counseling Coordinator at the University of Louisville Health Science Center Campus**