In your sobriety, your #1 goal should always be to work on yourself. Part of working on yourself is going to therapy, meetings, exercising and your 12 steps of AA. Your 12 steps of AA is crucial because it helps strengthen your ability to stay clean and sober. But what many people don’t know is the unofficial “13th” step of AA. The 13th step gained its name because groups are constantly seeing this happen. People with over a year of sobriety will hit on or apply sexual gestures towards the newly sober group members and it puts both at risk of relapse.

It creates a differing power ratio where someone is gaining power over someone who is weaker, and it can endanger both of their sobriety. The one thing I always want people to realize is this is not a gender thing. All sexes and gender preferences can be predators.

-Melody Anderson

Dangers of the 13th Step

 You might be thinking, okay, so what if someone in long-term recovery wants to date a newbie in recovery? But if you jump back to the things you learn as a recovering addict, you’ll remember the importance of waiting at least a year until you date anyone. 

But the 13th step might not even be about dating a newbie, it can mean something very different. It’s more so about the power that people in long-term recovery have over the newly sober. The stigma that they know more, they are better and can take advantage of you. This is why this step can be dangerous to the newly sober.

What Can Happen?

  • Danger of Relapse

     Not to be pessimistic, but if you go into a new relationship when you’re early in recovery, there’s a good chance that relationship isn’t going to work out. Despite the fact that your S.O has been in recovery for longer, but they’ve also adjusted to the sober life a little more than you. If things don’t work out between you two, you have a higher chance of relapsing than they do.

  • People in Early Recovery are Vulnerable

    People in long-term recovery might feel more powerful towards you in an attempt to make advances in your friendship with them. This can result in them taking exploitative advantage of you.

  • It Causes Trust Issues

    Not only trust issues, but it can also cause awkwardness, embarrassment and drive the newly sober members away from AA. This can cause them not stop attending AA and not know how to get support for their recovery.

  • The AA Group to Become Broken

     When the 13th step happens, it can cause a lot of uncertainty and annoyance. But most of the time, it’s not just the newly sober and the person with a higher sobriety that takes effect. It essentially effects the entire AA group. People will hear about it, see it, and ask about it. And since that step isn’t professional and not part of the 12 steps of recovery, it can ruin the establishment of AA. The group might lose members, constantly talk about that behavior, and overall change the course of AA.

Boys and Girls Can be at Fault for This

13th step“All sexes and gender preferences can be predators.” -Melody Anderson

The 13th step happens a lot, which is why it got its own name. But it can be very dangerous, especially to the newly sober members in AA. There can be situations where predators take their 1 or 2 months sober S.O places that will trigger them (e.g. bars, houses, neighborhoods, cities), pressure them to sleep with them, and advise newbies to quit therapy or attend AA.  There’s also situations where the older sober members will tell their newly sober member to stop taking medication and to stop talking to their family. 

How do you Know if it's Real or Fake?

Trust your gut. If you sense something fishy, talk with your sponsor or a friend of yours. Follow their actions and see if they talk with any other new members. It’s encouraged to not date in your first year of sobriety, and they say that for a reason. You’re so new to your sobriety, it’s a hard adjustment to take on and your recovery needs to be your priority right now. Taking on other responsibilities like moving, dating or a new job might interfere with your progress. If you don’t want any triggers or chance of relapses, make your recovery your #1 priority. Dating and other responsibilities can wait as you prepare and adjust to your new life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, New Start wants to help. Call us at 855-737-7363 or chat with us on our website.