“Change your thinking, change your life.”
Why are meetings important?
Meetings offer a support system to those in recovery; a non-judgmental place to share and learn from others. Whether you attend a meeting within your community or find a great online meeting, being part of a group offers guidance and support from others in recovery who are in same or similar situations and a place to turn in difficult times.
Meetings are not a substitute for formal treatment programs, but offer many advantages:
- Different groups address specific needs and issues.
- Many groups offer a very structured program of recovery to follow.
- Groups are a great way to find positive peer support, mentors and sponsors.
- Numerous meeting times and places make it more accessible to find a group that works with your busy life.
- The majority of groups run off donation of time and money of their members so there are no direct costs to you.
- Ongoing groups offer the chance of long term support after formal treatment has been completed.
How do I know which meeting to choose?
- What are your personal beliefs on spirituality and religion? Some groups have a strong religious or spiritual component to them. If you are non-spiritual, atheist or agnostic, there are also many self-help and mutual support groups available that do not use the 12-step method or any spiritual approach to recovery.
- Do you favor a science-based approach? Certain recovery programs and groups follow more of a medical, evidence-based, and therapeutic approach.
- Do you prefer meetings with the same gender or backgrounds? Do your research to find specific meetings.
- Are you open to face-to-face interaction or do you prefer the online environment? There are many options available, even meetings on-demand if necessary.
Finding a good fit is key, but don’t be afraid to explore meetings with different philosophies.
Attend a few meetings and you will be reminded of the consequences of our behaviors while using drug or drink, as well as what can happen if we are careless in our recovery. Relapse is all to real. But we also get to see the brighter side of recovery when we celebrate with others their 30 days, 6 months or 20 years. It’s proof that the program works, and offers hope to those struggling to remain sober.
12 Step Program
The core philosophy of AA/NA emphasizes personal accountability, abstinence, humility, honesty, powerlessness over addiction and connection with a higher power. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (which have been modified for other addictions and compulsive behaviors) are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- 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.
- 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.
Alternative to 12 Step Programs
The 12-Step program works for many people in recovery, but not all. Others may prefer to get involved in 12-Step alternatives such as SMART Recovery or LifeRing, some of which place less emphasis on spirituality (or involve a different kind of spirituality), encourage moderation rather than complete abstinence, and make other key variations to the 12-Step principles.
Here’s a few pointers:
- Finding the One: You may not find the right meeting right away. Keep looking.
- Follow the Rules: All groups set their own rules, but follow the cardinal rules of no cross-talk and respect anonymity.
- Be Present: Listening to what others share may help you find ways to deal with the good and bad in your new sober lifestyle.
- Share: But it’s not required. If listening helps you in recovery, do so with an open heart and mind.
- Sober Support: Meetings are also great places to find sober friends and sponsors. Vet them thoroughly to make sure they are in the right place in their sobriety that you will be mutually beneficial.
- Give Back: Once you’ve found a meeting that makes you feel at home and you’re in a good place in your own sobriety you can start giving back. It can be as simple as helping set up or take down meetings, offering a listening ear, or becoming a sponsor yourself. An attitude of gratitude is an extremely important part of sobriety.
12 Step Resources
Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the two men behind AA, drew their inspiration for the Twelve Steps from the Oxford Group who advocated that all problems rooted in fear and selfishness could be changed through the power of God by following the “Four Absolutes,” a moral inventory of “absolute honesty, purity, unselfishness and love,” and through public sharing/confession.
- The “Big Book” – The major goal of the book is to get individuals to commit to a specific program of recovery for alcoholism that includes embracing the notion of a “higher power.”
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions – A book that explains the 24 principles of the program, and dedicates a chapter to each step and each tradition, providing a detailed interpretation of these principles for personal recovery and the organization of the group.
- Daily Reflections provides a daily, short quote or phrase of inspiration to encourage developing new healthy habits.
Click on the links below to enjoy these 12 step resources:
One last word:
Not all meetings are 12-step. This list of meetings contains secular, 12-step, online, and other non-traditional alternate support groups with many different philosophies. Find the one which suits you best.