If you want to remain clean and sober, I suggest that you get to a meeting, and frequently.
Early in my recovery, there was one thing that I did tire of – the act of defending myself. I was so occupied with convincing others that I was not using, it seemed certain that I was. So, in the hopes of eliminating that annoyance, I started going to meetings. I chose to do doing something that came highly recommended – I began to just listen. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t share, but in the beginning just sit quietly and pay attention. The first couple of meetings may surprise you. With the exception of one or two, the people around you look normal, healthy, content, satisfied, and to some degree – successful. They do not look like winos, drunkards, junkies, or residents of skid row.
Another quality or personality characteristic you will notice about AA/NA members and visitors is that they appear to be quite friendly. The meetings provide a cheerful environment complete with lots of laughing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a Comedy Zone. More than likely, you’ll bare witness to all basic human emotions at one time or another. You’ll be able to identify with most of what you hear. Some open tempered vocal exhibitions may even make you a little uncomfortable in what could be described as delicate, perplexing, or aggressive ways. But you can be sure that every AA/NA attendee deeply understands the way you feel and most of what you’re experiencing.
If you want to remain clean and sober, I suggest that you get to a meeting. Addictions are like illnesses. A patients’ condition can sometimes exist in varying degrees. In an effort to make everyone as comfortable as possible, and try to reach as many addicts as possible, NA and AA organizations have developed different types of meetings. Descriptions of each type are as follows:
Usually smaller than other meetings, they are open to anyone who may think they have a drinking/drugging problem. They usually operate using two different formats – a series of scheduled discussion or simple question and answer sessions. These are excellent places to get your feet wet.
Whether you are an addict or not, all are welcome. These meetings are likely to be more organized than Newcomer meetings. Usually one or more members will volunteer in advance to share the history of their addictions, what happened, what their recovery was like. Although these meetings are somewhat formal, they do not have to follow any set pattern. Even if the speakers are trained orators, they try to tell their stories simply, directly and uncomplicated as possible. You are also likely to hear a wide variety of case histories involving all kinds of addictions, their symptoms and consequences. One thing I do know about these types of meetings, you will be able to identify with almost each and every speaker. You will gain solutions to some of your problems, an increased level of contentment, and to some degree, an enhanced peace of mind. I can almost guarantee that you will leave each meeting with a refreshed and encouraged attitude about recovery.
These discussion meetings are for addicts/alcoholics only (members or prospective members). They remain closed so that any member sharing a problem, story, or event, may discuss it no matter how embarrassing, painful, or upsetting it may be. Of course, more joyful experiences are shared as well. Before the floor is opened for general discussion, usually a member volunteers to share his/her story of addiction and recovery.
The basis of the discussion at these types of meetings revolve around the AA/NA Twelve Step Program. Each week a different step is discussed in order to help each addict, alcoholic, member, or prospective member advance in his or her own recovery. But other topics are discussed if someone has a problem or urgent need for help, commonly known as a “burning desire”. In my opinion, Step meetings offer the most basic insights into working and understanding a recovery program.