For many addicts, actually going to a meeting isn’t that hard. After all, they’ve been practicing first order change for a while! A family member calls them out on their behavior so they change temporarily. A boss disciplines them for not showing up, so they set their alarm for thirty minutes earlier for a month. So, someone tells them that the have a problem and, to get that person off of their back, they attend some meetings. They came.
There are two types of changes that happen in a person’s life. The first type of change, which we’ll call “first order change”, involves the changing of one’s behavior. The second type of change, which we’ll call “second order change”, also results in the changing of behaviors. The difference between the two is what motivates the change. First order change is motivated by a desire to avoid the consequences of one’s actions. So the person changes what they do so the they don’t have to pay the price for it. Second order change is motivated by a shift in a person’s heart that causes them to change who they are. And if you change who you are, what you do will follow. Changing behaviors to avoid getting caught lasts only as long as the threat of being found out. But a change in a person’s heart is the fertile soil that can grow a mighty redwood that can last a lifetime.
You don’t have to be an addict to know the Twelve Steps. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t at least heard of the program. But that’s not because of it being depicted in television, movies, or books. It’s because it works. So many people struggling against addiction have found hope through the Twelve Steps and the communities of people who live out their principles. But where did the Twelve Steps come from? And, what exactly are they?