What are the Main Suggestions for Newcomers in 12-Step Meetings?
August 9, 2019
Anyone who has ever been in recovery for a substance use disorder has heard about 12-Step meetings. These meetings occur on a global scale and have helped millions of people maintain their recovery from addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Al-Anon are some of the most popular 12-Step groups in the world. People who struggle with addiction and alcoholism (and their loved ones) can get the support they need to stay healthy in these groups.
Those who have incorporated 12-Step meetings into their lives can attest to how helpful and even lifesaving they are. However, when someone is new to these meetings, it can feel overwhelming. Not only is that person likely new to recovery, he or she is probably just starting to gain ground on his or her new life.
Those who have been involved in 12-Step meetings can relate, as they were once newcomers, too. This is why those new to these meetings are given different suggestions to help them get used to what to expect, as well as get them feeling at home since, for many, 12-Step meetings are like a home to them.
Top Suggestions for 12-Step Newcomers
One of the first suggestions for all newcomers in 12-Step meetings is to “keep coming back.” This is a phrase said throughout meetings nationwide, as it is not only used as a means of offering support, but to continue to encourage people to stick with meetings even if they do not have a great first impression.
Each 12-Step meeting is different, with a different vibe, different people, and focus on different things. For instance, some 12-Step meetings are open to the group, meaning that everyone in attendance is free to share, while other meetings are led by one person who talks about his or her testimony for the entire meeting. Some meetings are rooted in step work, where the time spent in the meeting is focused solely on one or two of the steps at a time.
Meetings can and do vary from group to group. Along with being told to “keep coming back,” newcomers are also encouraged to try a number of meetings so that they can find the meeting that best fits their style.
People involved in 12-Step meetings are there for a reason. Typically, newcomers are just getting familiar with recovery and the 12 Steps. They might have been exposed to the 12 Steps for the first time in treatment or they might be getting their first dose of exposure within these meetings. The bottom line is that recovery is hard, and doing it alone makes it harder. A valuable suggestion for newcomers, therefore, is to get a sponsor as quickly as possible, even if he or she is just temporary until a more permanent one comes along.
Sponsors are individuals who are comfortable with the 12 Steps, who have worked them on a personal level, and who are willing to give back to the recovery community by helping others through their steps. Sponsors do several things, but one thing they do is allow their sponsees to reach out to them at any time for support. This can be pivotal, as those who are just beginning 12-Step meetings are usually new to recovery and could use the extra support.
From the first day of 12-Step meetings, newcomers are going to hear a lot of talk about a “higher power.” 12-Step meetings are in no way affiliated with any religion, despite mention of “God” in some common literature. If newcomers have not already figured out who or what their higher power is, they are encouraged to make that determination. Many people choose God as their higher power while others simply refer to their higher power as a general sense of something being bigger than them. The best part about determining one’s higher power is that it can be anything he or she wants, so long as it helps bring a sense of strength, hope, and comfort.
Most 12-Step meetings encourage members to share their thoughts, and emotions, with the group. Sharing is not required, especially since listening can be informative and inspiring. However, at the beginning, newcomers are encouraged to share something about themselves so that the group can learn and they can grow more comfortable opening up to others. It is common to find 12-Step meetings where time is set aside for newcomers to share with the group.
Other suggestions can include going to meetings regularly, reaching out to other members of the group both during meetings and outside of them, and being one step ahead of the game when traveling by locating meetings in the destination city.
Importance of 12-Step Meetings
Simply showing up to a meeting may not seem like much at first glance, but 12-Step meetings often become the fabric of one’s recovery. Going to these meetings keeps those in recovery connected to their sobriety on a regular basis, often helping them prevent relapse from occurring. It also links them to others in their community who understand what they have gone through and what they are currently experiencing, allowing for a major sense of comfort and relief for all involved.
Bill W., the man who developed the 12 Steps, did so because he knew that in order to keep from drinking or drugging, people would need the support of others. Nearly 100 years later, these very steps have been able to help individuals maintain the disease of addiction without turning back to use.
If you need help for a substance use disorder, do not wait any longer. Reach out to JourneyPure Melbourne to get the support you need to begin your recovery.
Michelle Rosenker is a content writer for JourneyPure where she gets to exercise her journalistic skills by working with different addiction treatment centers nationwide. She has 10 years of experience in the field of addiction treatment and mental health and has written content for some of the country’s most prominent treatment centers and behavioral hospitals. Through her writing, Michelle is proud to continually raise awareness about the disease of addiction and share hope for the future. She lives next to the ocean in Massachusetts with her husband, two young children, and faithful dog.