"Rarely Have We Seen a Person Fail" - The Big Book, page 58:
I want to say up front that we—those of us who own and operate Balance House—are all members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Further, it is mandated that all employees are at least 18-months sober and have sponsors in a 12 Step program. We owe everything we are and everything we have to the principles set forth in Alcoholics Anonymous and the process therein. As our experience in AA and at Balance House has shown, most who are a part of AA do well, and the majority of those who choose not to be a part of AA have a harder time recovering. This is not to say AA is the only way to maintain sobriety, but it is to say that we have seen far better results for folks who commit to that process. More will be revealed, we suppose, and we are certainly open to anything that will save someone’s life.
We know the power of AA and we stand with our heads held high as members of that fellowship, but the 12 Traditions of AA are very clear...and we believe that because we are a for-profit entity, collecting money for services rendered, we cannot require anyone to “do the steps” or “get a sponsor.” This gets us into trouble with referents, but we are right on this—sorry. What we see constantly are people who have “tried the steps” and found they “didn’t work”. We have heard from many people who “just can’t get over the whole God thing” or that it “feels like a cult” (for the record, the man typing this very word is an agnostic but was still able to find a Higher Power). Yet, when we are able to pierce a little deeper, what it usually comes down to is they have done some steps within some program—usually the first three to five—and then stopped. Instead of blaming themselves for not finishing the steps, it is AA they blame because they expected the full miracle with a third of the work, which usually is par for the course.
Look, in order for the steps to work, you must (a) finish the steps with a sponsor (b) sponsor someone, and (c) practice the principles in all your affairs. However, this doesn’t happen by Balance House or any other program requiring you to “work the program”. In fact, making the steps a line item to be checked off for a higher level and more privileges actually bastardizes the process. You must pour your heart and soul into the steps while taking the suggestions of your sponsor, going to meetings, and actually trusting the process. Doing this ensures longevity in recovery…but let us not confuse: It is attraction, NOT promotion. We will get you to meetings every day and we will hold you accountable to your word, but we will not be calling your sponsor asking why you aren’t done with your fifth step. That, fortunately, is between you and your sponsor. We love AA so much we refuse to make it a part of our curriculum—as Bill and Dr. Bob would have wanted.
You might disagree with this and assume that without AA being a requirement of our program, no one gets sponsors, goes to meetings, or does the steps. Nothing, absolutely nothing could be farther from the truth. Some refuse, but overwhelmingly our residents are highly involved within AA and other sister organizations. I will remind you that the first tenet of all 12-Step programs is “To Thine Own Self Be True”. All we care about is honesty to yourself and the rest will be taken care of.