12 Step Work vs. Paid Recovery Employment

12 Step Work vs. Paid Recovery Employment

two men discuss 12 step work vs paid recovery employment

Table of Contents

I have been in recovery for nearly 12 years and have seen a lot of crazy stuff in AA and in the treatment industry. I was raised in AA that you could be paid for 12 step work in a treatment center setting but you could never take pride/ownership of the results of those people. I have seen a lot of people put their own program to the wayside because they were “seeing the light come on” with people they worked with in treatment. This is a subtle trap and it gets the best of us. We, long term recovery or not, choose the path of least resistance if our “motives” are in the right place. If we do this long enough, we will have warped our minds to think that people’s success or failure depends on me and those results may impact my job as well. So instead of doing these things in an AA setting where you see the light come on and the gift is that you stay sober it turns to you see the light come on and “I love my job/recovery” so much. 12 step programs work so well because it asks addicts and alcoholics to “freely give” what was given to them. NO ONE would do this 12 step work freely and on their own time IF their life did not depend on it. We are selfish creatures and by adding the $ sign, we lose track of the TRUE selflessness that is required for a continued psychic change.

So what’s the bright side to all this for a person in recovery looking to work in treatment? Well, I have seen that there are loopholes in the conundrum of recovery vs. work:

  1. Doing the right thing when no one is looking: Goes against our entitled nature to “Freely” give our time and our knowledge to our employer and the people we serve with no recognition.
  2. Social media connections with our peers are a good thing: We have the opportunity to connect with our counterparts on a different level and we show each other how to have healthy boundaries with our clients. Not friending our clients for a long period of time will protect them but also “delay our gratification” for connection to those
  3. We like working in treatment for a hidden reason: Our peers are in recovery and we have a bonding experience by showing up every day. By seeing our recovery and even non-recovery peers go through life and experience the good and the bad, we are connecting to their life and can be a part of it if we choose.
  4. Do not become a “workaholic”: By devoting endless hours to the cause and leaving no time for your life. Substituting work for your life is dangerous although your motives are good.

I am not the guru of this subject but these are just some observations I have had over my time in the two worlds. Please, let us know what you think. What do you do to stay sober? How do you balance home life, work life and recovery? By sharing how “we” do it “we” have the best possible chance to grow.