13th Step – Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You

It is not helpful to enter into an intimate relationship with someone who needs our assistance to recover from any illness or needs to improve their skills. In other words, whether we are their counsellor or their sponsor or their coach, as we are in that moment a guide and they are reaching out for help from us. So we should not become intimate with them then as they are more vulnerable than us and need to be protected.

A panel of professionals shared their
experience, strength and hope
leaving us in awe of their knowledge about the
12 Step Program which nowadays contributes to the
Twelve Step Facilitation method of recovery
and as a professional in that field I asked one of
those experts to inform us
on the 13th Step as I knew it was helpful information but
not officially acknowledged as such!
His answer was well put and cool
“simple, don’t screw anyone crazier than you!”
this acknowledged that we all have our own craziness
but when we are assisting others we must take care not
to take advantage of their vulnerability!

23 thoughts on “13th Step – Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You”

  1. I have recently joined AA, being sober now for a 131 days. I met someone in the program who has six years sobriety, and we instantly made a connection. We spent some time together having dinner, watching movies, and talking. Of course the program came up, but in actuality we had a lot of things to talk about concerning outside entities and thus “one thing led to another”. The next day he made very clear to me that we should start slow and remain “friends” and that his sobriety as well as my own should be first in our lives. I felt relief that we both had the same thoughts on our sobriety, but was somewhat confused as to why he had to bring the subject up at all. I already new that my sobriety wasn’t up for debate, but I guess him being in the program for quite a bit longer compelled him to address the subject. I feel now looking at the 13th step comments, that he may have made a rash decision by becoming intimate with me. I feel that we are both adults that enjoyed each others company and I benefited from the experience of our time together. Luckily for me I’m taking something powerful away in knowing that I may be new to sobriety, but I ended up with a great experience from a great guy who took the time to talk to me about the 13th step, and the harm it can procure in someone in my position.

  2. just found out tonight that someone who has a regular habit of 13th stepping women in AA is the SPONSOR of someone who I care about deeply and am contemplating having a relationship with. The old “birds of a feather” saying keeps tracking through my mind. I have no reason to believe that the man I’m interested in has ever 13th stepped anyone (or dated anyone, for that matter) in the program. This is really in my head and I don’t feel I have anywhere to turn (even my sponsor doesn’t know of my interest in this man…I keep everything very close to the vest). Just wanted to put this out there to see if it diffuses the situation in my noggin.

  3. I agree that the intent of the people involved is the difference between a relationship and a 13th step. If one person decides to use his/her place in recovery to influence an otherwise unwilling person into a (usually)sexual relationship, it’s a 13th step. Two people getting together, however ill-advised, may or may not be, as long as they both are aware of the situation. If someone uses the AA(or any) program to get sex from an unaware newcomer, they are the worst kind of predator, as they are putting someone’s life in jeopardy just to gain sexual gratification. It comes very close to rape, in my way of thinking.
    We all need to remember that we deal with alcohol, cunning, baffling, powerful! It will kill us without help. I know that to be true in my life, at least.

    I have 8 years clean & sober, and have seen both healthy relationships and sick disasters originate from around the tables.

  4. not dating is not in the big book. 13th step is using the program, ie sponsoring someone, to get laid. just straight up dating or hooking up in an AA circle/group DOES NOT MEAN IT IS 13th STEPPING! Time sober is really irrellavent too. The first one hundred men and women in AA who wrote the big book wrote the book precisely on how they recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body and it says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about staying out of a relationship

  5. I have a very different take on the whole 13step thing. My now ex wife and I started dating when I was only 6months sober. We were married a year later. Even though I was the 1 with less time( she had almost2 yrs when we met) she was the 1 with most of the problems. We have since divorced I drank after 16 yrs (3 yrs after we seperated)but none of that has to do with the fact that I was 13stepped.
    today I am sober and I have the most amazing son from that marriage that I have primary custody of.
    I beleive if 2 people can honestly say they love each and can still take the steps they can live a succsesfull happy life.
    things happen for a reason maybe it was gods will.
    I don’t regret it 1 bit
    oh and by the way she is sober almost 20 yrs, remarried and sees her only son2 times a month

  6. If you start to “investigate” information about the beginnings of AA and the Oxford Group there was always a preoccupation with sex. The 13-step can be traced back to the well-known practice of Bill W. the founder of AA himself. It is a practice well known in AA and I believe there are many victims. I was 13-stepped into AA by a man I thought was a trusted friend. He even went through the 4-absolutes with an old-timer to see if he should date me or not? I thought that was always weird considering the fact these two men knew his behavior towards women had never changed in sobriety in fact he was getting more comfortable acting out towards women sober. I was being played and preyed on for my ignorance of the hidden truths of AA. I have a life-time of real problems associated with alcoholsim and if anyone wanted a solution with all their heart it was me and he knew it; I did everything even going above and beyond what the program suggested especially for people who love-bombed me, told me to trust them, and that the fellowship would be my friends? That AA would be the best thing that ever happened in my life.

    The members instantly got into my sex life yet no one can answer me what the sex inventory is for? They want to know all your personal business to exploit your weaknesses and then they turn their backs on you which happens after the club knows you have been through the steps with a sponsor. I was often told that I didn’t know what I thought if I did it was wrong, I didn’t know what I felt, and to go against my gut instincts. I tried this honestly on to be humiliated and made an ass out of by these people, and all I got was very sick emotionally, mentally, physically, finacially, and spiritually which is abuse. I was told I must be doing it wrong; it was me, what is my part? My part is I wanted a solution to the problems associated with alcoholism and all I was give were lies from day one.

    The worst part is the other members both men and women don’t care about anyone in their clubs 13-stepping newcomers? I over-heard an old-timer who everyone thinks is a saint laughing about a married man who is “still” 13-stepping newcomers. This group of old-timers were laughing about it and didn’t know or care if I was there? I have heard that if a woman gets raped they would make her 4th/5th step it and find her part in it where what part based on self did she place herself in a position to be hurt; basically she has to take the blame?

    There is zero accountability in AA and having first names only is a convience to commit crimes against newcomers. Watch the difference of treatment to the pretty young lady especially if she appears to have money over the woman who has missing teeth and lived on the streets. If you try to speak up about anything that is questionable you are told, “it is none of your business”? I was taught when people are harming other people with intent and purpose to do so it is my business whether it is myself or others.

    They work on silence, isolaton, denial, and rigid rules which is the basis to encourage dysfunctional behaviors associated with alcoholism these are used to bend all the dogma of AA to fit their needs and excuse their behavior and they teach other people to do this too? You are suppose to go to your sponsor to make life-choices, which creates triangles between people and is a known practice to cause serious communication breakdowns.

    I think that AA is really meetings for sick people to prey on other people for everything under the sun. I can’t even give details here about my experience, but it was devasting. The part AA doesn’t understand is I don’t have to keep their secrets, because this man was suppose to be a life-long friend we know many mutual people outside of AA. The people who know us both and who honestly care about me with real concern went out of their way to ask me questions about my experience with this person and AA; like normal people do when they care about a person.

    Whereas, AA doesn’t talk to anyone about their real problems, God is solving all of those for you? You are only allowed to talk their dogma and be grateful for AA. It is a small world and you should always be careful how you treat anyone, because what goes on in public and behind closed doors does matter to the “higher power” of the God they preach.

    There are many non-AA people who are not impressed with this person’s continued behavior outside of the program and AA’s ways don’t fly in the real world, so I will let God work in mysterious ways. I think the 13-step is the biggest well-known, secret lie of AA. Also, I will continue to speak out about my experience with AA and possibly save lives by keeping others out of what I see to be a cult under the guise of a non-profit organization that is making huge profits off of people who are broken. Broken people are so desperate to feel better they are an easy target for devious people.

    To me what the 12-steps basically are is to make a person believe they are completely powerless over alcohol, their thoughts, their feelings, and their life. Turn their life over to the power of AA dogma. Empty all of your old thoughts out of your mind and fill it with thought/feeling-stopping slogans and Big Book dogma and then recruit new members into the cirlce to be exploited. If you don’t throughly follow their path you will die or go insane? To me those are all the signs of a cult.

    AA and the 12-steps do make a huge profit off of other people’s misery with no “real” solutions to any problems associated with alcholism. That is why their failure rate of 95% is so high not “rarely do we see a person fail who throughly followed our path”; they see more failure than long-term success of 3-5% who think they are special? They are the ones exploiting the newcomers and they know it with intent.

    In meetings I often heard Einstein quoted as saying, “Insanity is doing the same things over and over expecting different results”. Which is funny, because doing the 12-steps over and over while living by the first 164 pages of the Big Book over and over for the rest of your life expecting different results must lead to insanity in itself.

  7. I’m glad I found this site in regards to the 13th step, it’s hardly addressed at AA meetings. I’m sorry Lauren for the bad experience you had. I remember 2 years ago when I was still acting like I was angry at my ex(now my Husband) with my friend and I trying to have him 86’d from the AA club after his flirty behavior at a New Year’s Eve Dance. They encourage a safe environment when I filed a complaint, but no action was taken. They are not there to babysit us, we’re all adults. We were trying to humiliate him by having the manager at the club put him aside to make him aware. In my case it was a jealous rage, and he wanted to get back with me yet I did not want to when I actually did.

    Lauren, if you seriously wanted to curb 13th stepping, I would consider filing a complaint to an AA club manager or anyone in authority at the club or a trusted servant(if the meeting is not at a club). THIS SHOULD BE STOPPED! I hope it’s helpful, Happy Holidays!

  8. I was so excited to find this forum…
    My 13th step story is a bit long, but bear with me. Its wonderful to have a place to talk about it.

    I’m 19 years old and found my way into the rooms of AA at the age of 17. I spent my first 6 months in AA bouncing from relapse to relapse, all the while in a “relationship” with another member, who had even less sobriety than I did.

    What a mistake. We had met at my first outside meeting out of rehab; i had about a month sober. At the time, he lied to me and told me he had four months. Within a week, as sick and lonely as i was at the time, we were skipping meetings together to sleep with eachother. I eventually learned that when we had first met, he had just come back from a crack relapse…

    Lesson number one about relationships within the first year of sobriety, without having worked the steps… Neither he nor I had any capacity to be honest with eachother. At all.
    As time went by, i learned firsthand about his rageful, violent side. Still not having worked any kind of program, i was incredibly empty, and stayed with him despite the pain. I felt i was nothing without him. And I ended up cheating on him countless times. At the time, I truely felt that a “hook up” was all i was worth or good for.
    Lesson number two… you end up making the other person, or even sex your higher power.

    Needless to say, things continued to go downhill. My relapses were taking me to harder drugs and scarier situations. Soon after we broke up, i was sexually assaulted in a blackout by my drug dealer.
    This was the night before my 18th birthday.

    It was a horrible experience, but one that I am at least grateful for. Because I then got sober the following morning, on my 18th birthday, and have been clean and sober ever since. I knew i had a lot of issues I needed outside help with, and checked myself into a long term 12 rehab for 14 months. I was able to get a sponsor, and work the steps.

    Now I’m out of treatment and back in my hometown. It’s been an incredible experience, coming home, and getting to look through different eyes at some of the people and situations i was in… Its scary sometimes. I thank god every day that I dont have to be that person anymore.

    I now have a sponsee of my own, and i feel so protective of her. I’m trying to put her in touch with other young girls serious about sobriety and self respect. Somethings that I really value now.

    I actually discussed my relationship with my abusive ex with my therapist today. I’ve been infuriated to know that, despite him having over a year of sobriety, he continues to prey upon the new girls. It was absolutely enraging when a newcomer informed me that he was trying to sleep with her against her will.

    So i’m working on getting some of the more sober women together to get some support in confronting his abusive behavior, and put a stop to his 13th stepping. I may not be able to make a difference, but at least he’ll know his behavior wont be tolerated by us women anymore.

    I thank god for giving me the courage to be part of the solution today, instead of part of the problem.

    If anyone has any ideas about how to curb 13th stepping at meetings, i would love to hear it. I feel so protective of the other young women at meetings, and I want to do whatever is within my power to encourage self respect, dignity, and focus on recovery. It took a lot of pain for me to see how abusive I was with 13th stepping people, and how abused I let myself be. I would like to do what i can to help these girls make better choices than I have.

    Thank you,
    Lauren K

  9. I just married a man who’s been in recovery for 6 years and I still have mixed feelings on this dating in AA thing. I went to Sex and Love Addicts anonymous and they don’t allow dating at all. My husband although I love him more than anything has a reputation for dating newcomers in the past. He said that was a mistake and he wouldn’t do it again yet he picked up a newcomer more than a year ago when we were broken up. It was a disaster, she used a pregnancy myth against him as a ploy of manipulation. She disappeared after that incident without us knowing whether she was pregnant or not.

    Anyone I sponsor will be fired for 13 stepping or dating the first year since I didn’t do it. I think that should be enforced although it was not mentioned in the book.

    Congratulations you have, indeed, the correct interpretation of the use of the term 13th Step which I also intended for people outside the 12 Step recovery program. This is because I believe it is a symbolic term of that extra step in any program which trains professionals to provide a service to others and therefore be responsible for not abusing the privilege.

    One important correction that needs to be highlighted is that I am a qualified Family Therapist/Life Coach specialising in compulsion and recovery (addictions), a Doctor in Philosophy not a Medical Doctor or Physician. My PhD research was in Compulsion and Recovery and as a result I believe in a diversity of approaches – a synthesis or a balanced approach to recovery.

    Good luck in your efforts to influence media to be more responsible.

    I have written a new post based on your comments called 13th Step Syndrome dated 15th October 2007

  11. Steve, I was sorry to read that you have had such a traumatic experience and that you are now disabled with a muscle disease too. Not all AA members are as thoughtless as the one who hurt you and your partner. There are many AA members who are careful not to get involved in that way and who make good supportive friends for each other and for new members. Perhaps you could both try another meeting if you want the benefit of the program. Then again no one says you must use AA. There is a group known as SMART Recovery and it does not encourage relationships between its members as there is no buddy system. It is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and does not use a God perspective.

  12. I have been in aa 20 years. I have been married 13, been together 2yrs and we have a 10 year old son.’

    So my wife had relasped. and was using for the last 10 yrs of marriage. she basically started right after our son was born.

    Can you imagine my joy when she finally decided to go to My home room and get help.

    Can you imagine the pain I felt when everyone there let me down and she was suckered by a scumbag that just wanted to get in her pants. and her being so low. This meant someone must want me.

    So the affair went on for months in my AA refuge.

    I’m disabled now with a muscle disease which complecates things.

    Some how well I “know” “God” got me thru this tought well “hell” of a time. So I no longer go to aa. I feel sick when I think of what the people, my freinds did for me……nothing.

    I don’t want to get into blame. I just know I wanted to die. I would never recomened AA to anyone.

    The program works. But there has to be a way to guide new people to the program. not into there pants.

    I was and am crushed.

  13. I misunderstood your comments and thought she was at present a daily heavy drinker and member of your group. I can suggest that:

    If she is a therapist/educator of this class you can wait until you finish and agree to let some time lapse before you both take it to a more intimate level. As a therapist she will be knowledgeable in this protocol.

    You say you are a daily evening drinker (6 pack of beer) – this is risky considering that you were once sober and therefore had a reason to be sober then.

    When we enter into recovery from any disease or illness we can fall in love with our therapist. This is a transference that in our eyes places the therapist in a parent position and us in the helpless child needing them. It is helpful to keep this in mind and research any information on it to help you get through this.

    Time will tell, so I suggest that you be patient.

  14. Affie, thank you for your answer!
    I just want to clarify:

    She has been sober several years,
    is not currently using.
    I had several sober years recently.
    For several months now, I have been
    a daily evening drinker (6 pack of beer).

    (P.S. – I would like to edit out the specific years I was sober, just to preserve anonymity here)

    Thank you so much again!

  15. You are right that it is potentially very dangerous and timing is vital. The fact that she she shares that she is a daily heavy drinker shows that she is ‘at risk’ so until she reaches a healthier position you can be good friends and support each other in your journey to overcome the hold that drink has on you both. The friendship you are developing between you in order to support each other at this time, can contribute to a strong intimate relationship eventually when you are both in a stronger space. But crossing that line now could ruin a beautiful loving relationship.

  16. I am over 40 years old and am part of a group education and therapy program (court-ordered for DUI).

    I was free of alcohol from 199x to 200x.

    After divorce and death of a close family member.
    I became somewhat depressed and started drinking regularly again. Eventually I got a DUI (DWAI) and lost my driving job.
    I was rather depressed and withdrawn, spending a lot of time alone, for several months.

    There is a therapist where I go who is very attractive, compassionate and caring, energetic and passionate. I felt an instant attraction to her. We are close to the same age, and have a lot of life events in common.
    Over the months, the attraction grew, and there was subtle flirting going on back and forth.

    She knows a lot of things about me. During class, she will sometimes share from her own experience of being a daily heavy drinker. I respect her opinions and advice considerably – she speaks from direct experience. (as opposed to someone who has gotten their knowledge from books alone)

    I started giving her flowers and small thoughtful gifts, especially during the last 2 weeks. There was a mutual spark there, and it really helped me feel more like a normal person again.

    I know her to be a very caring and compassionate woman. I felt very happy giving her warmth and attention which she also appreciated. I had a very happy marriage for 10 years/ The feelings I felt from talking with her on the phone, and seeing her during class time, were very sweet and caring, and rather electric as well! My first thought was strong attraction, my second thought was I want to be close friends with her for a long time! She is very intelligent and gives wonderful advice from firsthand experience.

    There is another therapist in the office who is also very helpful, but she knows absolutely nothing about subtance abuse from firsthand experience. She is helpful to me in other ways, specifically dealing with emotions… also some childhood issues which are surfacing for me to work on.

    I know that we participated equally in this involvement. I would never blame her, and I would hope that she would not blame me for more than my own “half”.

    I am a very sexual person, and she obviously is too.
    Fortunately, between both of us, we never quite crossed that “point of no return” of actually consummating our desire. On Mother’s Day evening, she was especially vulnerable, but between us we were able to stay away from potential disaster.

    I love to comfort her when she is upset, as I am instinctively one to help, maybe “rescue” others.

    I am just now realizing the implications of what I believed to be very innocent and loving. Thinking and dreaming of her has been a fantasy that has lately helped me break out of my depression and withdrawing from life of the past several months.

    Now we both realize that this potentially very dangerous for both of us. I still care very much for her, but these barriers are very puzzling and heart-breaking.

  17. Hi Collage-Life
    Your comments were touching. So I wrote a whole post about it. See 13th Step disaster.

    Hang in there and after the year’s up you will be able to know whether he is who you want to settle with.


  18. Why no one has commented on this bright bit of information, I know not.

    For the past four years, nearly, my beau and I have been dating – committed and fairly serious, although we do not live together. In February, he proposed. I accepted. However, he proposal was not only for marriage, but to mark the committment he was about to make toward his sobriety. Having tried half-heartedly and failed a few times he felt a ring and a promise to us, himself, and me would do the trick. He began AA meetings, almost daily, and started 90 meetings in 90 days.

    That was February.

    In July, following intuitions that I’d ignored for weeks, I asked him if he was fully sober for as long as we’d been engaged. He’d lied about it over the course of our time together, and I had such a nagging feeling… I asked him.

    He lied; it was obvious. He is an awful liar face to face. I knew he lied and he knew it, too. It was crushing for us both. We had a very long conversation – no yelling or screaming, we don’t do that – and later that day, he asked for the ring back. Much of our conversation he blamed me for our troubles… If I could just accept his problem and understand how AA works, etc. I had accepted his problem but I knew I couldn’t live with them.

    That was about 6 weeks ago; at that point he said he’d said he was sober for two weeks.

    I told him I would be here for him, that we would be friends and that I only wanted what was best – for him but I knew in my heart I would not go any further in our relationship. He was very new to his recovery program and I wanted to sort out my feelings.

    What is ironic to him now is after four years, why did I choose NOW to break from him, when “things are going well” for him. He is 116 days sober and it’s great. Honestly, I adore and love this man, but I don’t feel that now is a good time to be with him as we’d been previously.

    If he can find health and happiness for himself for a year, I would seriously consider being close with him again. But for now, I believe it is better that we both have some space and time to heal and revive.

    Wish we had known about the mysterious 13th Step four years ago….

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