Addiction Therapy | What to Expect in Your First 12 Step Meeting

You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them. 

– Michael Jordan

Enlisting the help of a substance addiction treatment program is a significant step toward recovery, one that entails considerable strength. The thought of coming face to face with your demons and transforming your lifestyle in extraordinary ways may bring about various emotions, including hope, anxiety, and possibly fear. Group addiction therapy has long played an essential role in the treatment of substance use disorders. While it might seem frightening, challenging, and even painful to participate at first, most members realize that group therapy is beneficial. 

Once you are ready, the 12 step program for addiction therapy is designed to guide you through the following days. As well as the rest of your life. We’ve seen 12 step meetings played out in movies, often portraying dark lit rooms with cheap coffee. Everyone has a harrowing tale of woe and everyone looks annoyed to be there. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’re attending your first 12-Step meeting, it’s important to understand that nothing is expected of you. And to be honest, the coffee is usually pretty good. One thing that Hollywood does get right is that almost always, 12 step meetings are portrayed as a key part of our hero’s journey from a life of addiction to a life of sobriety. Are you at that point in your story? If you’ve found this blog, chances are you’re close to that scene. 

What are you supposed to do? How will you be received? Stepping into a meeting full of strangers can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for someone who Is newly sober and just starting the recovery process. Here are some things you can expect from your first 12 step meeting. 

Addiction Therapy | What To Expect In Your First 12 Step Meeting

Addiction Therapy | Which Meeting is Right for You?

It’s important to know that there are two types of “traditional” 12-Step support group meetings: open and closed. Open meetings are for anyone who would like to observe, while closed meetings are solely for individuals suffering from addiction who wish to recover. No two meetings are alike. Some will be large while others are small; some are connected to a treatment program, and some meetings will feel more religious than others. It may take attending a few meetings before you are familiarized with the program and begin to feel comfortable in the setting. Also, since each meeting is slightly different, you may wish to visit several addiction therapy meetings before deciding on which is the best fit for you.

Open or closed meetings may have:

  • A speaker who shares his/her specific story
  • A general discussion meeting
  • A study meeting where sections of the Big Book are reviewed
  • Beginner meetings are also held, typically involving an introductory Q&A format

Effectiveness of Group Addiction Therapy 

Group therapy has been a core aspect of drug and alcohol addiction recovery for several decades, and it has proven to be very effective. There are several studies that have shown that people who were involved in mutual support groups were more likely to remain abstinent than those who tried to quit “on their own.”

Feedback From Peers

One of the most beneficial aspects of addiction group therapy is the chance to receive feedback from peers. Often, members will be more open to the feedback they get from other members than to the information they get from their therapist. This is mainly due to the thought that other group members can relate to their struggles more quickly than their therapist can.

Building Relationships And A Support System

It’s common for group members to develop a bond with other members. These new friendships provide a source of support and encouragement long after treatment, which increases the probability of long-term sobriety.

Hope For A Better Future

Living with a substance use disorder leaves people feeling helpless and lost, with little hope that they can feel content again. Addiction group therapy allows members to observe others who are creating positive changes while improving themselves. Group members can also celebrate victories and support one another during challenges or setbacks. This can produce a strong sense of hope that fuels the addiction recovery process.

Reasons for Closed 12-Step in Addiction Therapy Meetings

The spiritual foundation of all 12-step groups is anonymity. Confidentiality is an integral part of group addiction therapy. For everyone to feel safe with opening up in addiction group therapy, all participants must honor the privacy of everybody in the group. 

 Members of the group can choose to attend closed meetings knowing that everyone in the meeting is guided by the group’s steps and traditions, which encourages each member to maintain their own anonymity and the anonymity of others in the meeting.

In a closed meeting, members can speak openly and honestly about their problem or situation, knowing that everyone else in the room has experienced similar situations.

Hello, My Name is…

If you are under the impression that each meeting starts with everyone going around the room and stating their name and some admission of guilt for your addiction, you’re not alone. But you are a little off base. While yes, when someone is speaking during the meetings they will introduce themself by name and acknowledge they are an alcoholic. 

But there is no requirement that you speak during this addiction therapy. During your first few meetings, you can participate as much more as little as you would like. It is important to remember that the purpose of the meetings is to engage with the other members and grow from experiences together. 

Why is Group Addiction Therapy Unique? 

The group therapy process allows members to benefit from their communications with other group members, along with the interaction and input of the therapist. During individual therapy, members might question if the therapist has ever walked in their shoes and can understand what they are truly going through. 

In addiction group therapy, patients will have at least one thing in common with the peers amongst the group: substance or alcohol use disorder.

Another unique element of addiction group therapy is that the group itself represents a small duplicate of each other’s lives in the world outside of treatment. In other words, each individual’s strengths and weaknesses are exhibited over time in the group setting. 

For example, if a group member gets defensive in response to constructive input, that struggle will resurface during the addiction group therapy process. This provides an excellent opportunity for group members to work on challenges in a secure setting. And as always, they are working with the help and support of their peers.

Are all 12 Step Meetings Religious? 

12-step programs serve as a resource available to anyone who is willing to accept that they have an addiction and who wants help to get better. Although you may hear people talk about God and make references to a “higher power,” you do not have to be religious to attend a 12-step meeting or to become part of a group. In fact, members are encouraged to define their higher power in a very individualistic way. Members are encouraged to define their higher power in a very individualistic way.

What is Step 1 in the 12 Step Program? 

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.”

After many years of denial, recovery can begin for alcoholics and their families with one simple admission of being powerless over alcohol. This admission of honesty is the first step of the 12 step programs of addiction therapy.  

Taking this first step and admitting you have a drinking problem can be difficult and scary, but it is the foundation of all positive change. Pushing yourself to speak for the first time at an AA meeting may be scary, but every time you do so, you take Step 1 and admit to the group that you have a drinking problem.

What is a Sponsor? 

A sponsor is someone who attends your meetings, has gone through the 12 steps themselves, and who has maintained sobriety.1 This is someone that you can choose yourself, and it should be someone that you feel comfortable with.

Your sponsor will help keep you accountable for staying sober and will be someone you can talk to who understands what you have been through and what you might be feeling. It is important to remember, however, that your sponsor is not a therapist and you should seek out professional services if that is something you feel you need.

Addiction Therapy | Get Help Today

If you or a loved one suffers from substance abuse, now is the time to get them back to a healthy lifestyle. Our treatment specialists here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center have the tools and experience to help end addiction for good. Whether it’s your first time in treatment or you just need some questions answered, contact us today for a free consultation. 

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