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How to Act in a 12 Step Meeting

Working a 12 Step program is about having discipline, respect, and being less self-seeking and selfish. Or at least it’s supposed to be. Sometimes, or a lot of times, when we go to meetings, others there clearly have some work to do in these areas. If you’re gonna be in a fellowship program please, please, please know how to act in a 12 Step meeting.

First of all, if you happen to be drunk or high, don’t share. The only requirement to attend a 12 step meeting is to have the desire to stop drinking or drugging so, in fact you can be under the influence. Just be respectful by not sharing in the meeting. It’s not cool to be all messed up and going on and on about who-knows-what. You don’t even know what you’re saying.

You’re not in a meeting unless you’re there from “Prayer-to-Prayer.” If you are going to go to a meeting – which is only an hour out of your day that you put towards your recovery, then be there from the beginning until the end. And by “end,” we mean till after the prayer. Getting up and leaving after the speaker is a great indication of how you’re still behaving selfishly and, moreover how you’re half-assing your program of recovery – if you can’t commit to staying for the whole meeting, where in your recovery are you only doing “just enough?” Just saying.

If you go to AA but used other drugs and not only alcohol, identify yourself as an “alcoholic” or, if that doesn’t feel right, you can say “hi, I’m ______ and today I don’t have a desire to drink.” If you are in an NA meeting, do not identify yourself as an “alcoholic” – NA’ers typically don’t like that. If you go to CA (Cocaine Anonymous), you can say either or both. As someone who eventually chose her home group in CA, I was really put off in my early recovery when I went to an AA meeting and, not knowing about these language preferences, decided to share in the meeting and identified myself as an “addict” (I was never much of a drinker). Later, my sponsor came up to me and mentioned my “slip,” saying that members of that meeting asked her to explain my mistake to me. This left a really bad taste in my mouth. After all, alcohol is a drug, too, and we are all addicts. But that’s just my piece about it. So, depending on the meeting you decide to attend, be sure to respect their house rules.

Don’t cross-talk, silence your phone AND put it away for the entirety of the meeting. Just like stated in “prayer to prayer” above, a meeting is only an hour. You can manage not to go on Facebook or to text while you’re in the meeting. If you can’t manage to go without, maybe you need another meeting, like one for internet addiction or social media addiction. Hey, if there’s a Lip Balm Anonymous, I’m sure there’s something like Facebook Anonymous, too.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, Palm Partners can help. Please call 1-800-951-6135.

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