A twelve step program is a set of guidelines/principles that people try to follow in order to recover from some type of addiction or compulsion. In these meetings, people gather and listen to people speak about their experiences with addiction and recovery. Generally, meetings are held in hospitals, churches, or clubhouses designated just for meetings.
It is absolutely free to attend a meeting. At some point, a basket will be passed and you are welcome to donate a dollar or two if you wish, but it is not mandatory. This money goes towards paying for rent of the meeting site, literature (informative pamphlets and meeting lists that are handed out for free), coffee/food (also passed out at most meetings for free), and other expenses that help keep the meetings alive.
There are a lot of different kinds of meetings, depending on what you need help with. Some examples are Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. I'm most familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), so that is what I will be discussing. However, if you want information on any of the other programs, or one I have not listed, you are still more than welcome to send in questions. I will do research and try to find as much information as possible!
It's also important to know that if you do not want to share your name or any information while you attend a meeting, you don't have to! It has been incredible helpful for me to go into meetings and be honest and share my problems with people, but if you aren't comfortable doing that at first you don't have to. You can sit in the back of the room and just listen, and decide if the meetings are for you. One of the most important aspects of twelve step programs is their anonymity. The idea is that what is said in the meetings and the people who attend the meetings, stay in the meetings. No one is to break anyone's privacy or anonymity by disclosing who attends a meeting or what someone said at a meeting. In my experience, I have never had any trouble with this. People are extremely respectful and follow this idea very thoroughly.
If you are still not comfortable with the idea of actually going to a meeting, you can find aa online! This way, you can be in the privacy of your own home while still being in contact with other recovering alcoholics and see what you think about AA. Check out AA Meetings Online.
A 12 step program can be beneficial to family members and friends of alcoholics as well. For example, al anon is a twelve step program designated specifically for those who are affected by a loved one’s alcoholism. Nar anon is another 12 step program for those affected by someone’s addiction(s).
AA meetings and NA meetings do a lot of different things for me. Meetings are a place I know I can always go and be safe. If I am having a bad day or feel like using or drinking, I can always go to a meeting and get help and support.
Meetings are also a great place to find a sponsor. Having a sponsor is a huge part of participating in a twelve step program. The 12 steps are very beneficial to sobriety and recovery. I believe it is important to find a sponsor you can trust and speak openly with - one who can help take you through the 12 steps.
Nothing in a 12 step program is mandatory, but I believe attending meetings and doing the steps is one of the most important arts of staying sober.
Each 12 step program also has 12 traditions that go with it, basically just laying out the ideals of the group.
If you aren't sure if a twelve step program is for you, the best way to decide is to check out a few meetings. For me, it was important to be open minded and really give the meetings a chance.
For a long time, I didn't want to go to meetings so I automatically decided that I didn't like meetings and that they couldn't do anything for me. Once I decided to really give the meetings another chance, they truly changed my life.
You can find meetings near you by searching online or by finding a phone number to call and ask for information. You can also check outhttp://www.aa.org/lang/en/meeting_finder.cfm?origpage=29
If you're unsure how to proceed but you want to find a meeting, please contact us and ask for help! If you tell us your area and the type of meeting you want, we would be more than happy to help you find a meeting near you.
If you have questions or comments about anything else regarding AA/NA meetings or any other twelve step program, feel free to contact us as well! If we don't know the answer, we'll find it for you! -p0-0