For the inquisitive prospective stepper asking the question ‘ What is a bad behaver? ’ the short definition would be someone who is not an addict, and is not ill, yet still behaves badly. For example if the problem is violent behavior this can be an addiction. The violent behaver should check whether their behavior has become an addiction by answering this question: Is it difficult to stop behaving violently? If so, you are most likely an addict and would best try to get on the violence anonymous program.
If still unsure, you may be able to define yourself as one of four types of problem user described under What is an Addict? Emotions anonymous is another program that welcomes prospective steppers with anger issues and the like.
If you are sure you are not an addict and not ill, here is a list of bad behavior that could be addressed in a pure self-improvement program: acting harmfully, anger, dishonesty, fearfulness, gluttony, greed, hate, impatience, intolerance, jealousy, laziness, lust, non-consideration of others, resentfulness, selfishness, self-importance, self-justification, self-pity, self-condemnation, and treating others with suspicion.
Over time the program could transform steppers with these sorts of problems into people who do good deeds, are calm, honest, courageous, moderate, giving and sharing, and show love, are patient, tolerant, grateful, take useful action, help others, are considerate, forgiving, show interest in others, modest, see others’ points of view, are concerned for others, self-forgiving, and trust others.
Don’t expect everyone at 12 step meetings to be down-and-outers. Many people have simply not had a good upbringing or acquired the wish to behave well. They do not realise the potential of a twelve step program to turn them into a decent human being who is more attractive to employers, say, and who automatically, almost without knowing it, turns into a person that others aspire to be like.
It really gladdens my heart to see young people in a program. The sooner they decide it is what they need, the less harm they will do to themselves and others. They and everyone who knows them will be better off.
But first, it is important to establish that no prospective stepper should be forced into a program. Participation is entirely voluntary. Family interventions sometimes work, even on TV, but often they don’t and anyway there are frequent relapses.
Secondly, on no account should people indulge bad behavior. They should never enable it in any way, for example by clearing up after. It is kinder in the long run to make bad behavers face the consequences of their actions. This is more likely to end their denial and lead to a voluntary start on a program.
Thirdly, since they are not addicts, attendance on a program may not be a lifetime’s task for a bad behaver. But if they ever became wobbly after giving up meetings I have no doubt they would be welcomed back with open arms. I don’t imagine anyone would be thrown out of a bad behavers meeting for behaving too well.