Can 12 Steps be used by non-Addicts?
The 12 Step program has so many worthy ideas about living life properly and connecting to Hashem. I wonder if there may be possible harm in non-addicts trying to subscribe to the "disease" and "powerless" model. Could these concepts possibly be counter-productive for non-addicts?
Yaakov weighs in:
I would like to address the distinction that Dov brought above from Sandy B between religion being "serving G-d" and recovery being "needing G-d". In my humble opinion, the goal of religion and Torah really is "needing G-d". (I can give many examples from the Torah and Chazal to show this, but here is not the place). However, the Torah and Mitzvos is indeed about "serving G-d" so that we COME TO "needing G-d". They are really deeply connected. Let me try to explain what I mean:
The entire Torah and Mitzvos was given to us to help us step out of ourselves, as Hillel told the convert who wanted to learn the whole Torah while standing on one foot: "What you don't want done to yourself, don't do unto others - and the rest is a "pirush", go and learn it". That rule the most basic and fundamental level of stepping out of the self. It is the first step that an animal-based creature would need to take to become a spiritual-human. It is the root of the Torah, which is all about making us altruistic, to open us up to G-d's light. But the problem is, we can't really become altruistic on our own. It is against human nature and it requires a miracle. Normally we say "ain somchin al hanes" but I believe that when it comes to ruchniyus, we must rely on a nes. That means, at the end of the day, we will NEED G-D.
But the problem is, we don't FEEL that we really need G-d because we haven't reached true "Hakaras Hara". We don't see how selfish we really are, how big our egos really are, and how this is separating us from the light of G-d and true "life". It is only through much "serving G-d" and trying to reach true lishma over many years of doing Torah and Mitzvos, that we slowly begin to see more and more how much "ra" we really have, and how much we really "Need Hashem". We come to see we need Hashem to be able to succeed in doing even ONE MITZVA with true and pure lishma/altruism.
So to sum up. Religion is indeed "serving G-d", but it's purpose is ultimately that we should "need G-d". G-d doesn't need mighty warriors. He wants the connection. And the more a person needs someone, the more they feel a connection to them. Therefore, I believe that every Jew really needs the 12-Steps. The problem is though, that not every Jew has a step 1. And without a step 1, the rest of the steps are pretty useless. But if we would try to really serve Hashem with ALL our heart and kochos for many years, we would start to get a true "hakaras hara" and see that we simply cannot become truly altruistic on our own without a miracle. And at that point, we will have a step 1 and can benefit greatly from the rest of the 12-Steps.
So addicts are essentially very lucky, because if a person is zoche to a true hakaras hara, even in one area (lust or alcohol for example), they are already able to jump to the level of needing Hashem that would normally take tzadikim many years of work to get to. So an addict is lucky to see his step 1 clearly... But little does he realize that he is not much different than all of us. His addiction is simply a manifestation of self-will run riot. It is really his self-will that is the culprit here, not the addiction. And we ALL have that same self-will problem that he has, we just weren't zoche to see what a mess it makes of our lives like he was. That is why we need years of avodah and trying to serve Hashem before we can truly give up achieving true lishma on our own and realize we need Hashem. Indeed, very few are zoche to this...
Bottom line: We ALL need 12-Steps. But it doesn't work without a step 1, and normally, only an addict has a step 1. For a normal yid, It takes years of Avodah to achieve a step 1 in realizing that we are powerless over our "self-will" and "ego" without a miracle from G-d.
Sorry for the long drasha... I hope some of it makes sense.