12 Step Meeting Formats You Can Choose From

If you are new to the recovery scene, you are well aware of the fact that 12-step meetings can seem like a different universe. Whether you have attended a few of these meetings or have just walked through the door of your first one, you can feel anxious, excited and even a bit overwhelmed. These support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous has its own language and etiquette, and it is easy to feel uncomfortable as you try and navigate this new and strange world.

Despite any misgivings you may have, they offer invaluable support and structure that will help strengthen your sobriety. Contrary to what many who are new in recovery may think, these programs are unique and can offer those who seek sobriety many ways to gain knowledge to become empowered in their recovery. An excellent example can be found in the variety of meeting forums that many of these groups provide its’ members. The following article outlines several types of meeting structures that are found in 12-step groups.

Types of 12-Step Meeting Forums You Can Attend

Newcomer Meeting

As stated in the introduction, those who are new to recovery may have many questions regarding the ultimate purpose of 12-step meetings. Additionally, those new to the scene may have their share of reservations about fully committing to these groups. Also known as a beginner’s meeting, this format is geared towards those new to the program giving them general knowledge of what the group is all about and its goals in helping them get sober.

In the newcomer’s meeting, those new to the program will learn about the group’s size and scope and the leader of the meetings emphasizes that each member’s anonymity will be fully respected. Meeting leaders may share their own experiences with their addiction and they may lead the newcomer group in a short discussion regarding a variety of topics including the disease of addiction, the importance of the 12 Steps in one’s recovery plan as well as essential tips on how to stay away from the next drink or drug.

Open Meeting

Another common 12-step meeting forum is the open meeting. Anyone seeking to learn more about the program can attend. It is open to prospective members who are on the fence about pursuing recovery as well as family members, friends, professionals and probation officers to name a few. These meetings can be very beneficial for the addict who is struggling with substance abuse or the loved ones going for moral support and knowledge.

While these meetings are open to all who are interested in the program, participation in the meeting itself is limited to the addict or alcoholic. There are some groups that have open meetings as a way for allowing supportive friends and family of group members to celebrate recovery anniversaries.

Closed Meetings

Whereas open meetings allow anyone interested in the program to attend, the closed meeting format is open only to those who identify themselves as having a substance abuse issues. With the closed meeting format, it provides the addict or alcoholic the freedom that is necessary to share openly on a more personal and intimate level. It also provides an atmosphere in which addicts can feel more certain that those who attend will be able to identify with them, and share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other.

one day at a time

Speaker Meetings

Another common meeting forum is the speaker meeting. In general, these are open to both group and non-group members. In a speaker meeting format, a member in the program will tell their story about how they became addicted to their substance of choice, how they came to the program and they will describe how their life has changed for the better because of the program. The speaker meetings are another effective way in which non-members can learn more about the program and what it takes to stay sober.

Step Meetings

Anyone seeking recovery for themselves has the option of attending what are known as step meetings. It is based on the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions but mainly focuses on the Steps themselves. A specific step will be the focus of that particular meeting. That Step will be read through and thoroughly discussed among group members. The discussion of a specific Step can unfold over a number of weeks, and with each successive week, the group will build on the prior week’s work.

Big Book Meeting

In Alcoholics Anonymous, Big Book Meetings revolve around the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book“. With each week, a specific part of the Book may be the focus of the group for further study and discussion. Usually, the group supplies the materials for these meetings–however, it is advised that members obtain their own copy of the Big Book for their use at home or outside of the meeting. Often times new members receive a copy of the Big Book from the group.

What Type is Right for Me?

One of the sayings that is reiterated in all anonymous programs is ” The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” No matter which style you choose to attend, they all have a universal goal which is to achieve long-term sobriety. With several meeting forums to choose from, deciding which type of meeting is best for you can be tricky. While the choices may overwhelm you, keep in mind that everyone’s path to recovery is different and there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” approach. First things first, you have to find a fellowship (or home group) that you feel comfortable attending on a regular basis. Each group has its own personality and character, and it is common that the first meeting that you attend may not resonate with you.

If you have attended a couple of meetings and haven’t made a connection to a particular group, don’t be discouraged. Ask around. Many people in the program can be an excellent resource in regards to finding the best ones in the area. Once you find a meeting that fits your personality and has members that you feel a connection to, explore the different types the group has to offer. You can benefit from mixing it up attending all different styles. The recovery world is your proverbial oyster.

Are You Ready to Commit To Your Recovery?

Like many who struggle with addiction, you or a loved one may have given serious thought to making the commitment to get clean and sober. While you have given it great thought, you may feel overwhelmed and don’t think that recovery is possible. Fortunately, the experienced addiction professionals at Dream Center for Recovery understand your struggles and have created effective treatment programs that will give you the tools and encouragement you need to succeed.

From medical detox, therapy and life skills training to relapse prevention education and a full continuum of medical and mental health care, Dream Center for Recovery is fully committed to helping you achieve your ultimate goal of lifelong sobriety. Call us today and make that goal a reality.