The Power of 12 Step Program for Non-Addicts

Audio is a bit low – The text to this video can be found below the video.

Rabbi YY Jacobson: “It is a true honor our honor and a privilege to introduce to you the guru of Jewish Recovery, Rabbi Doctor Abraham…”

Rabbi Dr. Avraham Twerski: “Thank you so much Rabbi Jacobson, thank you Rabbi Kessler, Thanks to the Renascence for making this possible. By the way Rabbi Kessler, I’m glad for another reason why you didn’t open up to the general community.

Someone once asked me what my proclivity was that I am so much involved with people in recovery? and I tell them that if I see someone taking an EtoGesic, a pain kill, the logical conclusion is that that person is in pain. All of the substances that we use in addiction, the uppers, the downers, the sleepers, the “sideway’s-ers”, the whatever you

have you. They are mind altering substances that people use to escape from emotional pain. That raises the question. What do those people that are not addicted to anything, how do they handle their painful emotions? They are not drinking, they are not using, How do they handle their painful emotions?

Well, some may have found better ways how to deal with them. But I suspect, that there are some people who don’t drink and don’t use because they don’t have too many painful emotions. I believe that among the population, among of people who are addicted they are much more exquisitely sensitive and hurt much more easily and that’s why they turn to substances. and that’s why I enjoy the recovering community, because, you see, those straight people out there who don’t have these emotions, to me they’re a little bit like food without salt, you know, I’m much more comfortable, I myself am very sensitive and emotional person and I enjoy the company, sharing the company with people with emotions. and that’s why I feel that the company of recovering people is so healthy for me.

…But I heard this fantastic story, and I asked him “how do you stay sober?” and so he says “I go to meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous” I said “what’s that?” This was in 1961 nobody knew much about anything then. Oh she says “we go to meetings” I say “Well who does the treatment in the meetings?” “well” she says “You know, we have speakers, discussions…” I say “Isabelle, do you have psychologists at the meeting?” She says “ there is one psychologist who comes around, but he is still drunk most of the time” so I say “Isabelle, something is going on in the meetings that keeps people sober, I want to know what it is. can you get me into a meeting?” in 1961 she took me to my first AA meeting and it’s now 59 years  that I still go to meetings, I never drank and I never used. But I was bright enough to realize  that the 12 step program has nothing to do with alcohol, drugs or gambling. The 12 step program is supposed to be of changing ones life, changing ones personality. and my dear friend Marty said on his 25th Anniversary, started off by saying “The man I once was drank, and the man I once was will drink again” and it’s a transformation of a personality. This is so impressive to me  because our holy works such as the Great Gaon of Vilna said that “Man was created in order to change his personality” In the book of Jovit has a very interesting phrase “that man comes into the world like a wild mule, and we not only have to tame the wild mule but we must elevate that wild mule to becoming a spiritual being”  That’s some challenge. and I found it in the 12 step program.

Yes I learned all the works of Mussar and I think that the works of Mussar and chassidus are enormously enormously wise. We have to study them properly. One of the reasons that I find that the 12 step program is so precious because even those works of Torah when are studied are really wonderful. I don’t see too many people believing these studies of these works with a feeling “If I deviate from this teaching, I die!” and That’s the magic of the Program. 12 step program is our life’s blood, it’s our oxygen. and if we deviate from that program we die. now I am not talking die figuratively, I mean die = dead. and that;s the power of the program.

So I lived the program, I cannot help but wonder, how Bill W and the others in the program, how they were able to have access to so many things we found in the Torah, we found in the Talmud, that we find in the Mussar and chassidic works it;s all there. Just this week I don’t know if you saw the last issue of News Week. This last weeks issue of News Week, there was this article about a “Stunning new discovery that promises to revolutionize psychotherapy.” They found that there are now fibers, brain fibers, that go from the Pre-Frontal Cortex which does our thinking down to the Amygdala which is our emotional sender and that proves that a person can, a person’s thoughts and intellect can impact upon our emotions. And if you learn Tanya, this is over 200 years ago, he says in the very simple state, he said that it is “Natural by birth, innate, that thought can impact upon emotion” I have to have great respect to science that only took them 200 years to discover that.

So when you have the opportunity to study the works of Torah, Tanya, the works of Mussar, You will see that they are enormously enormously helpful…

…But I am beyond the point where I can start anything new now, but it is important to realize that many of the things we react to, we are reacting, not because of what happened now but because of what it triggered something that was buried in our conscious years ago…

…Thank you for listening.”


“Thank you that’s good for my self-esteem”




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