How to Get the Most Out of Your 12 Step Meeting

12-Step is the most popular addiction recovery method in the United States, and you can typically find a 12 Step meeting for almost any type of recovery. However, while 12 Step is popular, many people find that they initially have trouble making the meetings work for them. In most cases, many of us like to feel self-sufficient, and going to a meeting consists of asking for help.
As a result, many people attend their first meetings with anger and rejection, already aimed at the help being offered. Others attend and are uncomfortable, unsure what to do or what is expected of them, or simply in a new environment. All of this is completely normal, and it is part of the process of adjusting to a new thing.
However, if you are on your way to battling an addiction and you want to stay clean, 12 Step can help. Attending meetings can help you to meet like-minded people, can help you to talk about your addiction with people who understand, and can give you the tools to stay clean.
Getting the Most out of Your 12 Step Meeting 
Getting the most out of a 12 Step meeting means showing up, paying attention, and being open to change. If you want to get help, 12 Step is something you must dedicate yourself and your time towards.
Be Open to New Ideas – 12 Step often introduces a lot of new ideas. The principles of 12 Step include reducing the ego, admitting that you are not in control, and admitting to a higher power. If you are not receptive to these ideas, you will not get the full benefits from any of the meetings. While there are Christian and non-Christian 12 Step groups, you may be asked to pray, you may be asked to ask forgiveness, and you will be called on to accept that there is something greater than yourself. If you go in open to these ideas, you can get much more from the program.
Actively Participate – Most 12 Step groups operate on a volunteer or semi-volunteer basis. Helping, even if you only offer to show up early and greet people at the door or to help with coffee, will allow you to get much more from the meetings. In addition to allowing you more time to get to know everyone, you will see everyone outside of their role in the group. You will also get to actively dedicate yourself towards your goal of committing to being clean or sober.
Share – After the coffee or tea and the initial chatter is over, 12 Step meetings are largely about sharing. No matter your experience, you can share it. While your reasoning and motivation will vary, sharing can help you to destress, can help you to make decisions, will help you to make connections, and will help you to move on.
Listen to the Message – Every 12 Step meeting has a core message, no matter who is talking. Take the time to listen to it, to what it is being said, and what it means. Pay attention at the start of each meeting, and make sure that you know what the focus of each meeting is, what is being discussed, and why. In many cases, there will be handouts or pamphlets or reading material to accompany the discussion. 12 Step meetings are typically planned to introduce you to new ideas and inspiration as they become important, and paying attention will help you to benefit from them.
Do Your Own Research – It’s important to read up and learn as much as you can, outside of meetings as well as in them. Before you go to a meeting, you should know what they are about, what they practice, and what you are likely to encounter. You should also attend several different types of meetings to find one that best suits your needs.
Ask Questions – 12 Step meetings are about reciprocation, and many people will be more than happy to answer questions. If you need help, are confused, or unsure of something, just ask. You are in a room full of people in recovery and they are there to share and to learn.
Be Willing to Learn – You may be asked to learn new things, to be open to new ideas, or even to study material handed to you. Be willing to learn, and be receptive to the ideas given to you. This also means listening to other stories, finding out where other people’s addictions and recovery took them, and being willing to learn from it.
Be Patient – No recovery is immediate, no meeting will be perfect, and you will need patience.
Utilize the Resources Available – Most 12-Step meetings offer plenty of resources, including carpooling, general assistance, and hotlines to call in case you need to talk to someone. Find out what is available at your meeting and make use of it or dedicate your time towards it when you can.
Ask for Help – 12 Step meetings are about giving and receiving, and sometimes that means asking for help. If you need help, there are plenty of people willing to listen, to give you advice, help you with cravings, or keep you company. More importantly, you don’t have to ask for help in front of the entire group if you don’t want to.
Get a Sponsor – 12 Step meetings allow you to choose a sponsor who will act as your mentor or guide. While you will likely not choose a sponsor for sometime because you should get to know people first, you should eventually choose one. Sponsors allow you to be in direct contact with someone who has already achieved their sobriety or been clean for some time. The goal of a sponsorship is to give you guidance, for the 12 Step program, and for your recovery.
Make Friends – A lot of people in 12 Step are just like you, recovering from an addiction, trying to get their life back, and hoping they can make it work. Making friends will give you people to talk to, will help you meet likeminded people, and can help you to stay clean. Friends who won’t judge you for talking about cravings can help you through them, especially when they understand what it’s like.
Commit to the Program – 12 Step programs are only effective while you attend them. It is important that you commit to the meetings and that you continue to attend. The more meetings you attend, the more likely you are to be able to stay clean or sober. Commit to showing up, participating, and getting involved with meetings, so that you can benefit from them.
12 step meetings can be a reliable and consistent environment where you can go to get help, work on your recovery, and meet like-minded people. You can go to learn, to find accountability, and to participate in group therapy, which will help you to move forward.
The Oceanfront Recovery Addiction Treatment Program can help with the process of recovery. Our dedicated staff focus on bringing the underlying causes to the surface with a modern and effective recovery program in a safe environment. Contact us at Oceanfront Recovery today for a confidential assessment.