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“Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom.” – page 64, Alcoholics Anonymous

The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous and the inspiring, instructional text inside can be applied to most struggles. Replace the word “liquor” with any other issue and the statement is still succinct. The decision to get sober, enter recovery, work on or trauma, face our eating disorders, or work through any other kind of issue is vital and crucial. However, we have to do “the work” in order to have a permanent effort on removing all the components of these issues that had been blocking us from living a healthy, happy, safe life. Whatever the name of the problem we are facing, it is but a symptom of a deeper problem. According to the doctrine of Alcoholics Anonymous, that deeper problem is a “spiritual malady”. Malady means “a disease or ailment”. Many people come to have a spiritual malady as a result of experiencing trauma in their life.

Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step programs are not trauma treatment programs. Undergoing the work of the 12 steps with a sponsor should be supplemented with a trauma treatment program or working on trauma with a therapist as well. Sponsors are not licensed clinicians, doctors, or therapists. They may very well be in their personal lives. As your 12 step sponsor, however, they are not treating you clinically. Simply, they are guiding you through the process of taking the 12 steps for your recovery helping you discover some of the roots of your “symptom”.

Most people who experience addiction, alcoholism, process addictions, and other negative coping behaviors have experienced trauma in some form. When doing their fourth step inventory, they realize that their inability or unwillingness to cope with this trauma lead them to a series of behavioral patterns in their life that ultimately created the “symptom” in their life. Discussing your trauma with your 12 step sponsor can give them more insight about what has happened to you in your life and “why” you drank, used drugs, or hurt yourself through different behaviors.