Working the Steps
Is listening in and even participating in 12-step groups called 'working the steps'? I think not. A good mussar schmooze, maybe. A chizzuk, maybe.
If you water a field full of weeds very well... you'll get a ton of weeds! There needs to be a thorough and repetitive weeding process if you want the 'water' to help good stuff grow. And you need to plant the right kind of seeds, too.
Meetings and reading help plant the right seeds, maybe they do a bit of weeding, too. But the main cleaning process is done by working the steps. And that can't be done by just going to a meeting, on the phone, in person, or whatever.
Until an addict actually writes his step-work and shares it with other addicts who are ahead of him in the steps (and sober) and starts to use them in his real life, he is like a person who wants desperately to learn how to drive. He reads the books about driving and watches a movie about driving. Then, he gets into a car and figures he'll drive to his aunt in NY... He will probably die... and he certainly won't get to NY.
The steps are the same. Working them cannot be done in the sincere imagination. Additionally, we can't take a break from real life 'to work them', either. They are only worked inside our real life with all its problems, worries, pains, and joys.
If you are an addict and anything like me, you probably do not need yet another really great mussar schmooze. You probably need some small changes, over time. Some patient, humble, real live work.
By all means do the phone groups, join the meetings. But I say, don't expect any change until you start to actually work the steps and stick with it for a while... and stay sober. Sobriety makes the steps actually work.