What Happens at a 12-Step Meeting?
Twelve-step programs form the basis for continuing sobriety once we complete our treatment program. Joining a 12-step group provides a fellowship of recovery and a network of sober friends, which are vital to remaining free of drugs, alcohol, and compulsive behaviors.
While the exact format of a 12-step meeting varies from program to program and group to group, all are based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Founded in 1935, A.A. is the oldest of the 12-step fellowships. Other programs aimed at helping addicts include Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, and many others. In addition, a number of programs support the addict’s friends and family, including Al-Anon, Alateen, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Co-Dependents Anonymous, Gam-Anon, and Gam-a-Teen.
Taking A.A. as our example, the protocol for meetings is dictated by each individual group, which establishes a “group conscience” for running the program. A majority of groups open with the A.A. Preamble, along with a portion of Alcoholics Anonymous (known as the “Big Book”) called “How It Works.” Many groups recite the “Serenity Prayer,” while others close with the “Lord’s Prayer.” It’s also common for groups to observe a moment of silence, “for the still sick and suffering alcoholic, in and out of the rooms.” While accepted as long-standing A.A. customs, none of these practices is required.
Meetings typically last one hour, and are considered “closed” unless otherwise stated; this means attendance is limited to those who have a desire to stop drinking. Anonymity is the foundation of any 12-step program. Therefore, we do not divulge whom we’ve seen or what we’ve heard at a meeting.
There are several types of A.A. meetings. Following are three of the most common:
- Beginners: While any alcoholic may attend, Beginners meetings are structured with the newcomer in mind. These meetings are an exception to the suggestion that newcomers refrain from sharing in their first 90 days of sobriety. Here, everyone is welcome to share.
- Step: The group will focus on each of the 12 steps, one at a time and in order, over a period of weeks or months, before beginning the cycle again. Groups typically read from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions; then, an alcoholic will “qualify” about their experience in working that particular step. The floor is then opened for sharing.
- Open Speaker: These meeting are open to the public, with only the speaker(s) sharing their “experience, strength, and hope.” As we listen to the stories of other alcoholics, we are reminded to identify, not compare. While the speaker’s details may differ from our own, the feelings are universal among alcoholics.
Recovery doesn’t just happen. To fully recover in mind, body, and spirit requires professional guidance. You have work to do. At Harmony Place, you never have to do the work alone. For information on our total continuum of care and luxury residential treatment and a private consultation, call us today: 1-855-652-9048