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Drug anf Alcohol 12 Step ProgramsIf you’re new to addiction recovery and are interested in trying out 12-step programs, congratulations! You’re on the right track for two reasons: (1) you are prioritizing your recovery and (2) you aren’t jumping into anything without first doing a little research to see if it’s a good fit for you. Here are a few things that you should know that will help you understand what to expect from 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and what other participants will expect from you.

Drug and Alcohol 12-Step Programs

  • There are different types of AA meetings: speaker meetings that feature the story of someone in recovery, topic meetings that ask participants to share on a specific topic, step/tradition meetings that explore and allow participants to discuss the 12 steps and traditions, and Big Book meetings that offer a study of the Big Book.
  • The Big Book is often considered the AA “Bible” and provides a number of personal stories and tips for those in recovery.
  • Meetings last for different amounts of time – usually 45 minutes, an hour or 90 minutes – and the locations vary.
  • There are meetings for men only, for women only, for the LGBTQ community, for Christians, for young people, for parents, for older people, for working people, for homeless people, for nonsmokers, for smokers – pretty much any group.
  • You can find meetings by looking up local meetings online, seeking out pamphlets at referral centers, asking your family physician and getting a referral from someone who attends meetings.
  • Many people look for a “home group,” or one specific meeting that they attend regularly where they feel comfortable. It can take a few different meetings before you find one that feels like a fit, and you’re certainly welcome to attend other meetings in addition to your home group meeting in order to get the support you need.
  • Finding a sponsor early on will help you get your questions answered about AA from someone who’s been there in your community.
  • A sponsor is always termed a “temporary” sponsor because either party always has the right to choose to let go of the relationship, allowing the sponsor to take on a new “sponsee” and the sponsee to find a new sponsor. Some “temporary” sponsor/sponsee relationships last for years while others last a few weeks or months.
  • You can get a sponsor by responding at the meetings where they ask anyone looking for a sponsor to raise their hand. Those who are looking for sponsees will come up to talk to you after the meeting.
  • Don’t settle with a sponsor you don’t feel comfortable with. Feel free to change it up whenever you feel like you need more or less guidance.


What are some tips that you found useful during your early days in recovery at 12-step meetings?

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