What is 13 Stepping? Simply put, when a person with some time and experience in a 12 Step Program hits on and engages in a relationship with a newcomer. This relationship is typically sexual in nature. The behavior can often have disastrous results.
When things turn sour the newcomer might use this as justification to leave the program. This can lead to a relapse back to their addiction.
The Vulnerable Newcomer and The Horse Thief
A lot of the people coming into recovery are vulnerable. They are burdened with the obvious troubles of alcohol and drug addiction.
Newcomers bring other troubles which have contributed to a life that has become “unmanageable”. Though these issues can run the gamut, many have had dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships. These issues do not get left at the door.
Unfortunately, some people they will interact with in 12 Step Programs may be sick as well. These people will use the newcomer’s vulnerability against them. The approach may seem one of concern but cloaked underneath can lie other motives. Just because people have stopped drinking or using does not always mean they’ve become better people. Insert “sober horse thief” line here!
It’s often hard to know the difference between a 13 Step approach and an honest attempt to help. Many opposite sex members are likely to keep their distance at first. They will let the same sex healthy members of the 12 step program make the approach to help. Humility displacing ego, often the hallmark of quality recovery.
Who Can Help
Members who have gone through the 12 Step process can find that the type of person they date afterward has changed. Behaviors and treatment which were once tolerated and considered “normal” are no longer acceptable. These healthy members can identify with the Newcomer. They’ve been there and have found a way out. The established member’s job now is to carry the message to the newcomer. The message being “The program works. Let me tell you how it worked for me.”. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it this way on p. 18. “That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured-these are the conditions we found most effective.”.