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The Dangers of Step 13

The Dangers of Step 13

Step 13 is when members of a recovery group enter into a sexual or romantic relationship, usually with one member being new, and the other more experienced. This has been a serious problem in some recovery groups. So, what are the dangers of step 13? Find out below.

Human Nature Or Predatory?

Some might argue that sexual relationships are just part of human nature and often begin when people have a common interest (like getting and staying sober). However, having sobriety as a “common interest” is asking for trouble. In fact, when two sober alcoholics or addicts hook up, there are issues of co-dependency that can, and often do, arise. It’s an unstable situation, and when it involves a new member, it undermines their fragile hold on sobriety.

Dangers of Step 13

It goes without saying that relapse is one of the most significant dangers in engaging in step 13 behavior. Sadly, not just for the new member. A breakup or drama in the relationship can be used as an excuse to quit the program, drink, or use drugs again. The entire situation is like playing with fire. Some of the dangers include:

  • Exploiting vulnerabilities
  • Triggering relapse
  • Making meetings feel unsafe
  • Distracting from recovery progress
  • Damaging club reputation

Protect Yourself & Others

Commit to support and affirm new members in your recovery group, not exploit them. Also, keep a close eye on any budding relationships. Look for some of the common warning signs. If you sponsor and this area may be a struggle for you, stick with sponsoring a person of the same gender or different sexual orientation as yourself. Warning signs in meetings might include:

  • Assigning sponsors (they should be chosen, not assigned)
  • Flirting that turns into pressure
  • Hearing talk about a new member that sounds off

With awareness and focus, you can avoid step 13 and help others by committing to the integrity of your recovery program. Hold yourself and all members to the same standard. Recovery programs like AA are about support and working the steps to maintain sobriety -  one day at a time. Finally, if you're looking for a friendly reminder to avoid Step 13, check out our "No Step 13" products.

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