When we wrote the Addictionary in 1992, the term Social Media was unknown. We still do have the telephone, but we’ll add texting and social media like Facebook, as well as Online resources.

Most Twelve-Step groups recommend the use of the telephone and other communication as “tools” for recovery. They have value for several reasons.

As an addict, your thinking can be very erratic, spinning, and confusing. This is especially true in early recovery, when you first stop drinking, using, eating, or behaving addictively. The phone is a quick link to sanity. Allowing another person’s serenity and words of encouragement to enter your consciousness can easily “save the day.”

Contact Phobia

Many people find making phone calls or other contact very difficult, particularly at first. The addiction can find all sorts of excuses for not calling, such as:

  • I might be rejected.
  • I don’t want to bother them.
  • She doesn’t have time for me.
  • He might not understand.
  • It might not help.
  • It might help.

None of these excuses are valid. To help with contact phobia, remember that false pride is usually the problem. It may be hard to admit to yourself or others that you need help.

All addicts in recovery know that newcomers (and many old-timers) need help. When someone talks to you on the phone, it’s an opportunity for them to use their Twelfth Step -- which is necessary for them and their recovery. Also, it is not unusual that the person you call might need some help, too. Almost everyone in a Twelve-Step program has had the experience of someone calling them at just the right moment, when they did not have sense enough to make a call themselves.

Occasionally the people you call may be busy or not at home, but be careful that your addiction does not use that as an excuse to give up. If you were unable to reach anyone, you will still benefit from the process; it reinforces your commitment to recovery.

Or send a text message, an email, or a Facebook Private Message (PM). Some people call it an “inbox”. That may be just as effective, whether you’re concerned about them, or yourself, or both.

Even reaching someone’s answering machine or voice mail can help. just leave a message and you (and/or they) will feel much better.

Also, make every minute count by sharing what’s going on with you without being extremely brief or extremely long-winded, then stop and listen to the feedback and sharing you receive. Usually this can be done in less than five minutes -- ten minutes tops. If you are still confused or upset or lonely after ten minutes, say thanks and call someone else. That way you will increase your chances of hear ing what you need at that moment.

Online Meetings

For online resources see the Online module.


Most addicts should make more use of the telephone, but there are a few who need to back off it a bit. Contactitis (too much involvement with the phone or communications) can be a way of avoiding the other parts of your recovery program, including meetings, reading literature, and meditation and writing.

Twelfth Step

Communications, like other Twelfth-Step work, is part of the soul of the Program: one addict sharing experience, strength, and hope with another addict. As soon as you can think straight, begin reaching out to help others, not as guru or savior, but as one addict caring about another.

Contacts, see also: Assertiveness, Community, Coping skills, Crisis, Eating plans, Feelings, Intervention, Love & caring, Meetings, Obsession, Online, Other support groups, Priorities, Relapse & prevention, Relationships, Service & giving, Sponsorship, Stinking thinking, Tools of recovery, Trust.

Updated 10 Oct 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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