Recovery Can Be Overwhelming
Getting sober is scary! We’re thrown into a new location, told to change people, places and things (this means change everything!), and begin to reach out to other sober people. We begin to experience feelings again.
Basically, we experience everything we avoided through our addiction! Fear not Ms. Freshly Sober, Sobriety For Women is here to help. We’ve whipped up a handy guide to the common types of twelve-step fellowships and twelve-step meetings. We’ve even sprinkled in some basic meeting etiquette.
Sounds like one less thing to freak out over. Now, get back to doing step work!
AA is the original twelve-step fellowship and has been around since 1935. Hmm, they’ve been around for over seventy-five years? They must be doing something right!
A common misconception about AA is that it’s only for people with a drinking problem. This isn’t the case at all. I’m a certified junkie and I go to mainly AA meetings. I work AA steps and sponsor the AA way. Just because you’re an addict, doesn’t mean you can’t go to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Here’s where that meeting etiquette I talked about earlier comes in. I don’t talk about drugs during AA meetings. When I share, I say things like “my drinking was out of control,” or “alcohol worked for me, until it didn’t!”
I swap the word drugs for alcohol and it works fine. When I’m doing step-work with a girl, well, then I’m very open about my addiction. During meetings though? I respect the house I’m in.
Plus, alcohol is only mentioned once during the twelve-steps. The rest is all about us and how we relate to other people.
NA was founded in 1953 and is over sixty years old. Again, those recovering addicts must be doing something right!
NA is, generally speaking, a bit looser than AA. Obviously, you can talk freely about drugs. Don’t start telling war stories though, or you’ll get chewed out by old-timers pretty quick!
I’ve noticed, through my personal experience with NA, they generally don’t dive into the steps. They have a saying, which goes a little something like “we didn’t get sick overnight and we’re not going to get better overnight, either.”
Personally, I don’t agree with this. I think we need to start to get better right away. Still, NA works for hundreds of thousands of people. If you’re looking for a slow and steady approach, NA may be right for you!
An AA old-timer founded CA in 1982. While CA is a separate fellowship from AA, they work steps from AA’s Big Book and practice AA sponsorship.
Truthfully, I haven’t been to a ton of CA meetings. The one’s I have attended are lively and solution oriented. That means members share about how to get better, rather than reminisce about drugs or booze.
CA seems to mirror AA in that members don’t need to have only a cocaine addiction. In fact, most people I’ve met at CA were opiate addicts.
Other Anonymous Fellowships
While AA, NA, and CA are the most prevalent twelve-step fellowships, there are about five thousand others. These include: Al-Anon (for those affected by someone else’s drinking), Gambler’s Anonymous (GA), Sex and Love Anonymous (SLA), Codependents Anonymous (CODA), and Overeater’s Anonymous (OA).
Types of Meetings
Within the above fellowships, there are many different types of meetings. Let’s look at some.
This simply means that anyone, addict or alcoholic or otherwise, can attend. Want to bring your significant other to a meeting? Take them to an open meeting.
This means that you have to me a member to attend.
The third tradition of most twelve-step fellowships reads, “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking [or using].”
So, to attend closed meetings, you have to have a desire to stop destructive behavior. You don’t, and this is important so pay attention, you don’t have to identify as an addict or alcoholic.
All meetings are either open or closed. So, open and closed are sort of the macro-categories of twelve-step meetings.
Speaker meetings are where someone speaks. Simple enough, right? In these meetings, the speaker can share their story, or speak on a particular topic.
This is a meeting where the topic is based around specific literature.
This literature can be fellowship approved (AA’s Big Book) or unapproved (AA’s “Little Red Book”).
Literature meetings can have a speaker, be a discussion meeting, or be any other type of meeting.
These are meetings where a topic is discussed. The topic can be about anything. Common topics include gratitude, resentment, relapse, spirituality, etc.
Step meetings are when the topic is one of the twelve-steps. These meetings can take the form of speaker meetings, discussion meetings, or literature meetings.
This is a meeting where addicts and alcoholics celebrate their sober anniversaries. Typically, the last meeting each month is an anniversary meeting. Medallions are given to anyone with a year or more. There’s cake and sweets.
Anniversary generally don’t take up the entire meeting. The rest of the meeting is whatever type of meeting it normally is.
Now that you know all about the different types of fellowships and meetings, get out there and start getting better!