The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, created the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Since then, the 12 Steps have played an integral role for people who want to live and enjoy a sober lifestyle.
The 12 Steps serve as a spiritual guide to sober living. They encourage people to turn their lives over to the care of a Higher Power. A recent study has shown that addicted people who incorporate spirituality into their recovery have a greater chance at success for ongoing, long-term sobriety than those who do not.
The basis of any 12-Step program is meeting attendance, working the 12 Steps with a sponsor, and carrying the message to those who still suffer. In this article, we will specifically talk about attending meetings and developing your support community, why it is important, and how to overcome any fears you may have about going to meetings.
Going to a 12-Step Program After Rehab
The 12 Steps are a proven program of recovery. Millions of people around the world who were once hopelessly addicted now enjoy a life of freedom because of 12 Step programs. For this reason, most rehabs in the United States encourage newly sober people to attend meetings after they get out of treatment.
At New Directions for Women, we introduce our patients to the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous so they can be familiarized with the program during their stay with us.
The problem is that most people have a fear of 12-Step meetings once they get out of treatment. They are newly sober (or trying to get sober), they don’t know anyone, and they think the whole thing is weird.
We’ve All Been There – You Are Not Unique!
If you have a fear of 12-Step meetings, you are not alone. You are not unique. In fact, you are the rule rather than the exception. Almost every single person who attended their first meeting was somewhat uncomfortable when they got there. They felt strange and out of place. This is completely understandable.
So, we want to reassure you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you because you just can’t seem to muster the courage to go. You are not a weirdo. You are not a coward. You are a human being who is simply experiencing fear of the unknown.
Walking into a meeting for the first time is scary. Nevertheless, 12-Step meetings are your lifeline to recovery. They should not be avoided. Your life depends on it. So, let’s talk about how you can overcome any fear you may have about attending a 12-Step meeting.
Don’t Be Afraid to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
First things first. You simply MUST step out of your comfort zone to take that brave first step on the road to recovery. Addiction has a strange way of making you comfortable with being addicted. Isolating and withdrawing from other people becomes a way of life. Getting high or drunk alone becomes the norm.
The reality is that addiction is a cunning enemy of life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 70,000 people died from a drug overdose in 2017 alone. Recovery is a matter of life and death. What has become uncomfortable for you in your addiction to alcohol or drugs is slowly killing you. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone.
Without a doubt, the early days of sobriety are uncomfortable. Meetings are uncomfortable. But, sometimes, you have to get uncomfortable to get comfortable. In other words, recovery makes you comfortable with being sober. It teaches you how to live and enjoy life without drugs or alcohol. But, first, you will have to be uncomfortable. There is no way around it.
Knowing this might make it easier for you to overcome your fears about attending 12-Step meetings. You feel afraid. That is okay. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it. Be brave. Go to a meeting.
There are Many Benefits to Participating in a 12-Step Program
Another way to overcome your fear is to recognize that there are many benefits to attending 12-Step meetings on a regular basis. Your life will absolutely change for the better if you decide to get sober and reach out for help.
Here are 8 of the many benefits of attending 12-Step meetings:
- You will make new, sober friends who will support you and encourage you on your recovery journey.
- By working the 12-Steps, you will find a new way to live without drugs and alcohol.
- Going to a meeting a day helps you stay sober one day at a time. It is recommended that newly recovering people go to 90 meetings in the first 90 days of their recovery.
- You will enjoy an active social life. 12-Step fellowships have regular events like BBQs, dances, speaker jams, and conventions.
- By attending 12-Step meetings, you learn about the disease of addiction and how it affects you personally.
- You also learn how to treat your disease and avoid relapse.
- You are given the opportunity to right the wrongs of your past and heal broken relationships.
- Meetings show you that you are not alone. Recovery isn’t a “me thing” … it’s a “we thing.”
These are just a few of the many benefits you will enjoy when you overcome your fear and attend 12-Step meetings.
Keep in mind, that you can always bring a friend or family member to an open meeting with you for support. Being with someone you trust when you go to your first meeting can make you feel more safe and more comfortable.
Also, addiction affects women in profound ways. You may feel more comfortable attending a women’s meeting. Check your local meeting schedule to see when and where they are available near you. Some meetings also offer childcare, including one held at the New Directions for Women campuses on Thursday evenings.
Find a 12-Step Meeting Near You
You have so much to gain when you actively participate in a 12-Step program and only one thing to lose – the devastating effects of your substance use disorder. Of course, when you break the chains of addiction, you will not mourn the loss of alcohol or drugs. You will say, “Good riddance!”
In the wake of the opioid crisis in the United States, addiction is more prevalent in our country than ever before. You simply overcome your fear of meetings by going to a meeting. Instead of being afraid of sobriety, be afraid of staying trapped in the addictive cycle for the rest of your life. Or, worse, dying from a fatal overdose.
We have made it easier to take that first step toward recovery by providing links to help you find a meeting near you. Here are some of the most popular 12-Step Fellowships:
If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, we strongly urge you to get to a meeting. You will be glad you did.
Need Help Getting on the Road to Recovery?
If you believe you need more help than meetings have to offer, we encourage you to contact us. Depending on what drugs you have been using, you may need to undergo detox. We also offer residential services, an intensive outpatient program, and sober living.
When you’re ready to get help, we’re here. At New Directions for Women, we have been helping women get sober for 40 years and we can help you too.