You may be wondering what all these 12 Step meetings are all about. If I choose a 12 Step modality for my recovery program, do I have to go to meetings? What goes on at these meetings? How often do I have to go to a meeting? How much do they cost? Where are they to be found?
Lots of questions surround the suggestion of attending 12 Step meetings on a regular basis. The word “suggestion” is often used in 12 Step recovery. We can define the word as meaning “a subtle command.” For most of us who have recovered meetings were essential in the early days of our recovery. By attending meetings I was able to see and hear from people who had applied the 12 Steps to their life and remained free from drugs and alcohol. The key word here is “apply.” We can gain all the knowledge in the world regarding addiction but, without application of a recovery program we are probably doomed to fail at staying sober for any substantial period of time. Meetings provide a safe venue where we may hear others share how they stay sober on a daily basis. In time you may also wish to share in the meeting your personal journey into a life of sobriety. There is nothing obligatory about going to a meeting except for just showing up.
Meetings are held in community facilities, 12 Step clubhouses or in a rented space from a business or organization. They usually last from one hour to one- and one-half hours. Readings from 12 Step literature are read which may include a portion of chapter 5 from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Next a portion of chapter 3 may be read. Then the leader of the meeting will share his or her experience, strength and hope as they pertain to addiction. In the middle of the meeting the Twelve Traditions may be read as the 7th tradition is observed. Meetings are free however a basket is passed around to cover the cost of the rental space, coffee and other meeting related items. This is usually a nominal collection and the usual donation is 1-2 dollars if the person is able to give. There is no requirement to give at any time.
When the meeting resumes the sharing begins again. The leader may have chosen a topic for the meeting such as gratitude, surrender or being of service in the fellowship. There are other meeting formats where one person may speak for the entirety of the meeting, playing tag (the person sharing picks the next person to share). There are also panel meetings where another group is invited to have 3-4 of their members share for ten to fifteen minutes each.
One does not have to go to one group exclusively. It is beneficial to most addicts to attend different meetings to hear different points of view as it pertains to addiction. Life-long friendships are forged at these meetings based on past mutual suffering and then recovery from addiction. Walking into a meeting and hearing laughter is quite common. The Big Book says that we are not a “glum lot.” We have much to be grateful for in being sober and not living in addiction any more. It has been said that if you don’t want to go to meetings, just go until you want to go! This will become true for you if you just put one foot in front of the other and take yourself to a meeting!
The meeting will usually end with another reading such as “A Vision For You.” Then everyone is invited to stand and recite the prayer of choice chosen by the leader or meeting format. This is usually the Lord’s Prayer and participation is not required. So, there you have it. Meetings usually become incorporated into our schedules. We may go to two meetings a week or seven meetings a week. It is your choice to plan your attendance at meetings. We will be waiting for you, see you soon.