What is the 13th step of AA?

Whilst most of us will have heard of the traditional twelve steps programme, mention of a 13th step of AA may also have come into your awareness. I really just wanted to clear up what the 13th step is in case anyone was not sure.

The act of 13th stepping is not an official part of AA, but a colloquial term which has become widespread over the years. Originally the 13th step referred to when, after living a life of sobriety by using the 12 Steps, the alcoholic took the 13th Step to his/her grave. When they were placed in their grave they began their 13th Step. There by living in all eternity a life of sobriety.

However, the modern day interpretation of 13th stepping, the 13th step of AA, is when an individual whom is already established within the fellowship preys on newcomers to the group. This can be in terms of getting a new member to do unpaid work (volunteering is a healthy part of a recovery plan, but not in order to benefit another member personally), or making sexual advances towards them.

The danger in starting a relationship within AA is that it creates a differing power ratio where someone is gaining power over someone who is weaker, and it can endanger both of their sobriety. It is important not to assume that anyone being friendly is out to get something, however it is worth having your wits about you and not becoming too close before you can be sure of the person’s intentions. The standard recommendation is not to enter into a relationship with anyone until you are at least a year into recovery.


Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0800 024 1476calling