How to Get the Most Out of Your Group

How to Get the Most Out of Your Group

Become active. The magic of recovery happens when you actively participate and share at meetings. Recovery doesn’t happen when you just sit passively and listen to other people. You recover when you’re honest – nakedly honest, and share what’s going on inside.

Remember, open share meetings are where you get to talk about your recovery and what’s going on inside. But don’t worry. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. You can pass. And it’s normal in the beginning to go a few times and just observe the process.

Be committed. Attend regularly. Some people attend for a few months, others go indefinitely. There is no one approach for everyone. The main reason to continue to go is to remind yourself of where you’ve been and how quickly you can get back there if you start using again. You also go to meetings to help others and to give back.

Use the help that other people offer you. 12 step groups are a generous and giving environment. People will offer to help you in many ways. They’ll offer to meet you for coffee, talk about your problems, or give you their phone number in case you want talk any time day or night. They’ve been through it before, and they know that recovery is hard work. In the beginning you may be overwhelmed by their generosity. But it is sincere.

Your tendency will be to not accept their help. You’ll think that you don’t want to be a bother, or that your problems aren’t that important. But they’re offering to help you because they want to help, and because they know that by helping you they’re also helping themselves. When they listen to your stories, they’re reminded of where they’ve been and what they need to do to remain clean and sober.

12 step groups are not like the rest of the world. When someone says “give me a call” in the outside world, maybe they mean it, maybe they don’t. In 12 step groups they mean it because they’ve been there. Therefore take advantage of the help they’re offering.

Get a sponsor and do step work. A sponsor is your own personal coach or teacher to help you through recovery. There are three levels of support in 12 step groups.

The first level is people who are general supports. They will offer to go out for coffee, give you a lift to a meeting, or give you their phone number. You can’t have enough friends like that.

The next level of support is an accountability partner. They’re someone who you would like to spend time with talking about recovery. They can be a sounding board. They can help you understand the format of meetings. They can call you and motivate you to go to meetings. They can also act as an early warning system to help you recognize if you’re in denial, or if you’re in the early stages of emotional relapse. You can have more than one accountability partner.

The final level of support is a sponsor. Once you’ve been in recovery for a while and you’ve checked out some of the meetings you’ll want to find a regular sponsor. They are a teacher to help you learn the 12 steps. The next two sections deal with finding a sponsor and doing step work.

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