Attending 12-step meetings is an important part of your initial addiction treatment in Phoenix, as well as your ongoing addiction therapy. You can work the steps on your own or with a sponsor, and you can work them during your initial recovery, as well as again and again over the years as you need them. The 12-step program has been proven to be highly effective in helping those addicted to drugs or alcohol to become sober and to remain so.
When you are new to 12-step meetings, you may be confused about the expectations. You don’t want to inadvertently make a mistake and feel embarrassment or tension that causes you to avoid the meeting. Here are a few simple rules to follow to ensure you get the most out of the meetings:
Get there Early
Showing up late to a 12-step meeting is very rude and disruptive. You will be creating noise and distraction while someone is potentially sharing a painful experience or thought. You need to get to the meeting 15 minutes early to be respectful to others. Plus, getting there a few minutes early will give you a chance to get a drink and to chat with others, helping you to make friends and build a support network. Plan to stay about 15 minutes after the meeting for the same reason.
Limit How Frequently You Leave the Room
For the same reason, you shouldn’t be getting up to go to the bathroom or to take a phone call. It’s distracting, and it can make those who are sharing feel like you are not invested in supporting them. Try to leave the room only if it’s an emergency, and turn your phone on silent for the duration of the meeting. Consider setting it to “Do Not Disturb” so you are not tempted to take a call or read texts.
Use “I” Statements
When you respond to something others share, try to avoid using “you” statements. Instead, focus on your own perceptions and experiences. You can relate those statements to the share. Just use “I” statements to avoid projecting your own feelings or to inadvertently making someone feel judged or blamed.
Share Only Once
You may come to the meeting with something on your mind that you want to share. But after you share, you may listen to what someone else has to share and decide you want to share additional thoughts or relate a similar experience. Keep that for the next meeting. It’s best to only share once so that you give other people enough time to talk if they wish.
For the same reason, you should also keep your share short – usually only about three to four minutes. Some meetings might have specific rules about time, so check to see if the limit varies. Otherwise, stick to this general rule of thumb.
Stay on Topic
Most 12-step meetings have a topic for the night to help those in attendance work through a step or a common issue together. Try to stay on that topic for your share. It will help the meeting to stay focused and to be more productive for everyone.
Refrain from Cross Talk
After a person shares, you might want to say something to them privately. Don’t lean over and do that when they sit down. Share it with the group so that everyone can benefit. If you can’t, then wait to share it with that person at the end of the meeting.
Similarly, do not have a side conversation while someone is talking. It is disrespectful and distracting. Give each person your full attention and hold other thoughts until the end of the meeting. That also means staying off your phone – whether texting or talking – during the meeting.
Most 12-step programs have a rule about anonymity. You should not talk about people you have seen in another meeting, nor should you share what you have heard at other meetings. Always respect the confidentiality and anonymity of the participants.
Get a Phone List
Typically, the meeting organizer will distribute a list of phone contacts at the end of the meeting. Make sure you grab one. You can find people on the list who can be potential sponsors or sources of support when you are struggling. It’s always a good idea to have someone who knows what you’re going through to talk to when you need extra help.
You don’t have to follow rigid rules when attending 12-step meetings, but it does help to follow a few rules of decorum. No one is going to kick you out of the space if you make any of these faux pas, but you will feel more tension and diminish the experience somewhat for yourself or others.
You can attend 12-step meetings or get other addiction therapy at Corebella Health and Wellness in Arizona. We serve patients throughout Glendale and Tempe, and we offer a range of addiction treatment options, including addiction counseling and medication with our suboxone doctor in Chandler. Contact us today to learn more.