Page 1

1234567891011 123456789101112 Stepping Up Working the program, one day at a time

For more than 75 years people with addiction issues have been turning to a process commonly known as the Twelve Steps. Created by the original people behind Alcoholics Anonymous, the process has lent itself to support groups addressing everything from sex addiction to gambling to issues with food. Though the specific implementation of the approach can change from group to group, from person to person, the tenets remain the same: looking yourself in the eye and making a commitment to change. On its own, each step is not a cure-all. As Benefit approached individuals for this step-by-step examination of how some Bay Area residents have turned to the Twelve Step Program to turn their lives around, one said, “I maintain that isolating one step as the most important one is like asking which spoke on your bicycle is the most important one.� Here are images of ordinary people rebuilding their lives one step at a time.

Photographs by David Waldorf Edited by Scott Adelson

March/April 2007 87

0703_12step_v4.indd 87

3/1/08 10:12:24 PM

We admitted we were powerless over (our addiction)—that our lives had become unmanageable.


Name: Edward Addiction: Narcotics Time in recovery: 7 years, 10 months Who helped: Bi Bett Corporation, Diablo Valley Ranch Annex “We didn’t stumble into this fellowship brimming with love, honesty, openmindedness, or willingness. We reached a point where we could no longer continue using because of physical, mental, and spiritual pain.”


0703_12step_v4.indd 88

3/1/08 10:12:41 PM

Name: James Addiction: Alcohol and cocaine Time in recovery: 3 years “I am a Buddhist predominantly So to some people it doesn’t make sense. I say ‘exactly!’ It works if you do it. Godspeed.”


Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

March/April 2007 89

0703_12step_v4.indd 89

3/1/08 10:12:56 PM

Name: Susan Addiction: Drugs Time in recovery: 23 years Who helped: Friends in the healthcare business “My life was unmanageable. I couldn’t work; I couldn’t leave the house because of paranoia. My friends had given up on me. I was alone and afraid. This step was the jumping off point for a new life.”

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.



0703_12step_v4.indd 90

3/1/08 10:13:07 PM


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Name: Christina Addiction: Alcohol and cocaine Time in recovery: 16 months Who helped: Marin Fellowship “I was instructed to write down an exhaustive list of all the people I resented, and what I resented them for. It came out to be 20 pages long. My sponsor took me through each one and asked me to find my part in every resentment.�

March/April 2007 91

0703_12step_v4.indd 91

3/1/08 10:13:18 PM

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Name: Roger Addiction: Alcohol

Time in recovery: 46 years


Who helped: Nobody

“As I share my experience, strength, and hope with others, it is my wish and deep desire to give back that which has so graciously been given to me.�


0703_12step_v4.indd 92

3/1/08 10:13:30 PM

Name: Alan Addiction: Alcohol Time in recovery: 11 years Who helped: Mandana house “This, too, shall pass.�


Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

March/April 2007 93

0703_12step_v4.indd 93

3/1/08 10:13:43 PM

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


Name: Papamalo  Addiction: Alcohol and cocaine  Time in recovery: 6 years  Who helped: Highland Hospital “I can identify as an addict/alcoholic, but the truth is, for me, that these are only symptoms of a greater malady: the addictive mind and body.” 94

0703_12step_v4.indd 94

3/1/08 10:13:55 PM

Name: Mary Addiction: Alcohol Years Sober: 7 years Who helped: Henry Ohlhoff House, Stepping Stone House, National Council on Alcoholism, St. Anthony Foundation “It isn’t just a list, it’s about forgiveness. Forgiving everyone. Then you can move freely through your life.”


Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

March/April 2007 95

0703_12step_v4.indd 95

3/1/08 10:14:15 PM

Name: Dianna Addictions: Alcohol and codependency Time in recovery: 21 years Who helped: My brother, Mom, and private therapy “Sometimes amends may be not contacting that person.… The sense of being lighter and resolution is amazing upon completion of this work.”

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.



0703_12step_v4.indd 96

3/1/08 10:14:27 PM


Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Name: Bridgett Addiction: Food Time in recovery: 6 1/2 years Who helped: Other 12-steppers “I think of surrendering to the fact that I’m a food addict and surrendering to the fact that I need help outside of myself to recover. Two things that I would never want to admit about myself before.”

March/April 2007 97

0703_12step_v4.indd 97

3/1/08 10:14:40 PM

Name: Clare Addiction: Alcohol Time in recovery: 19 years Who helped: Neighborhood Center, Bernal Heights “I’m meditating well when my thoughts become suspended and I merge into the quiet expanse in between the thoughts. From there I am restored to sanity, renewed vitality, creative inspiration, and ineffable contentment.”

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.



0703_12step_v4.indd 98

3/1/08 10:15:02 PM


Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Name: Al Addiction: Heroin, beer, marijuana Time in recovery: 10 years, since 7:15 a.m. when I woke up this morning Who helped: Stanford Medical Center, Henry Ohlhoff House “I can’t fix me.”

March/April 2007 99

0703_12step_v4.indd 99

3/1/08 10:15:12 PM

William Salit Design magazine art direction / production / publishing services

Portfolio: 12 Step photo essay  

A photo essary for Benefit Magazine art directed by William Salit Design. Photography by David Waldorf.