12 Steps Program

Anonymous Programs

Whether you are starting to think about treatment or you are already deep in recovery, 12-step meetings (such as Cocaine, Alcoholics, or Narcotics Anonymous) can be a helpful addition to a treatment plan to help you get into and stay in recovery. Let’s look at what 12-step programs are and how they work as part of a treatment program.

Alcoholics Anonymous (and other Anonymous fellowships) are self-help groups for persons who desire to stop using substances. The goal is complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs. Daily meetings can be found in almost every major city. It is estimated that there are 87,000 AA groups globally and over 1.7 million members in 150 countries.

Besides abstinence, these programs focus on mind, body, and spirit to achieve and maintain a sober life. Membership is diverse, and there is no formal membership process or requirements. As stated by the third tradition, which is a principle for AA, “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” No program can claim a 100% success rate for sobriety; however, many active members of AA enjoy successful outcomes, including lifelong sobriety.

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What Are 12-Step Programs?

There are several types of 12-step programs:

12-Step Integrated Treatment Programs

Many have experienced success with 12-step integrated treatment programs. An integrated treatment program combines evidence-based treatment with the principles of 12-step programs. Many people find that the community and fellowship of 12-step programs give them the support they need to employ the strategies they learn during evidence-based treatment. 12-step programs can be a great bridge to provide support between therapy appointments for people seen on an outpatient basis.

Is a 12-Step Fellowship the Right Fit for My Treatment Needs?

Studies show that AA is most successful for people who have completed an evidence-based treatment program. According to Alcoholics Anonymous Fourth Edition (pg. xxviii), “Of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure, before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit.” In this text’s historical context (written in the 1930s), a “hospital procedure” refers to a medically-assisted detox.

While AA can support continuing sobriety, it is essential to get treatment at a medically-assisted detox and rehab facility to maximize the chances of staying in recovery long-term.

Finding a 12-Step Meeting

Finding a 12-step meeting is easy – merely typing the name of fellowship (Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous) into any search engine will bring you to the program’s website. From there, you will be able to delve into state-specific information to let you find both in-person and online meetings. While online meetings can be a great option, many people find that the in-person community created by a physical meeting is invaluable for drug and alcohol recovery support.

What To Expect From Your First Cocaine, Narcotics, or Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

When you decide to start attending NA or AA meetings (or similar meetings) for the first time, it is normal to be apprehensive. Sharing with strangers can be challenging, especially when you are discussing something as personal and complicated as recovery. Rest assured, you will not have to share if you do not feel comfortable. It is fine to sit and listen to the stories of others. For some people, it takes several meetings to feel comfortable enough to share with the group.

At your Cocaine, Alcoholics, or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, a leader will start the meeting by reading the group’s preamble, followed by the serenity prayer. Many people will join in with the serenity prayer, but it is fine if you choose not to do so. The chairperson (person leading the meeting) may ask if it is anyone’s first time at a meeting or that specific meeting. The goal is not to make a person uncomfortable; it is done so people know that you’re new and can offer help and support. If you feel comfortable, you can indicate that you are new to the group, but it is fine to remain silent.

Throughout the hour-long meeting, people will share their stories. Cross-talk (commenting on other’s stories, offering advice) is discouraged. After someone ends their story, the group thanks them, and someone else begins to speak. At the end of the meeting, the group recites the Lord’s prayer (again, you may choose whether you would like to participate), and the meeting is adjourned. After the meeting, many people stay to socialize around snacks and coffee. You are welcome to stay, as well. Anonymous programs do not seek to force anyone into recovery; the belief is to live as an example of recovery.

Attending AA meetings for the first time can be scary, but you are not alone. Remember, everyone in the room had to decide to walk through the meeting doors for the first time. By doing so yourself, you are creating a supported path to continued sobriety.

Do you have questions about AA, NA or CA? We would love to listen. Call (844) 978-1524