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Fellowship Meetings in Recovery

One of the most commonly used approaches to addiction recovery is attendance at fellowship meetings. The 12 Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the most popular, but there are also other groups that offer an alternative format. It does seem that attending these meetings is not something that works for everyone, but it can be a highly effective approach to addiction recovery.

What are Recovery Fellowship Meetings?

Recovery fellowship meetings are a type of community self help group. Alcoholics Anonymous is considered to be the first of these groups to hit the mainstream. They involve a meeting format where people dealing with addiction meet and lend each other support. There are no paid workers in these groups, and the groups are completely self supporting. Members are encouraged to donate small sums at meetings if they can afford it, but there is no need to pay money in order to attend the 12 Step groups.

Types of Recovery Fellowships

There are many recovery fellowships available in the UK including:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Gamblers Anonymous
  • Cocaine Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Food addicts Anonymous
  • Online Gamers Anonymous
  • Nicotine Anonymous
  • Workaholics Anonymous
  • SMART Recovery
  • Women for Sobriety
  • Secular Organisation for sobriety (SOS)
  • Moderation Management (this is a non abstinent based program for problem drinkers who have not yet become addicted)

Benefits of Recovery Fellowships

These recovery groups are popular for a number of reasons including:

  • They provide people who are trying to break away from addiction with support and encouragement.
  • Breaking away from addiction usually means saying goodbye to drinking or drug using friends. This can mean that the individual will feel lonely in recovery unless they build up a new social network. By joining a recovery fellowship the individual will have the opportunity to make friends with other people who are on a similar path to them.
  • Programs such as the 12 Steps provide people with a program for living. This means that they will not only have the tools they need to break away from addiction but also to begin building a new and better life. Those who have faithfully followed the 12 Steps in their life have been able to become far more stable and productive – some members even end up achieving serenity.
  • The individual will usually have times in their recovery when they are really struggling. By attending these fellowship meetings they will always have somewhere to turn to for support.
  • It is often stated that time heals all wounds and this can be a real danger for people trying to break away from addiction because they can forget where they’ve come from. Those who forget their mistakes are often doomed to repeat them. By attending these fellowship meetings the individual gets a constant reminder of what they left behind and what they could be going back to.
  • A real danger for people in recovery is that they become bored. By attending these meetings the individual will have something constructive to do with their time.
  • Membership of a fellowship provides the individual with the opportunity to do service. This is important because it has been shown that helping other people stay sober increases the likelihood that the person offering the help will stay sober. This type of work also builds self esteem, and it gives the individual a chance to give something back.
  • Another important aspect of fellowship meetings is that they provide a feedback mechanism. It is easy for people to go off track in recovery without even realising. When the person is attending these meetings they will be around other people who will be able to spot the signs of an approaching relapse.
  • These groups will often provide a social outlet for the individual, and this can be important for people who no longer go to bars. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous arrange their own sober parties and festival celebrations.

What to Expect at a 12 Step Meeting

The 12 Step meetings are the most popular, and the type of thing that people can expect here will include:

  • Everyone at the meeting will usually be giving a chance to share depending on the available time. It is not necessary for people to share if they do not want to, but they may be asked to introduce themselves.
  • There are many different types of 12 Step meeting. Some will be open meetings where anyone can attend while others are closed meetings that are only open to people with addiction problems. There are also general discussion meetings or meetings that focus on a particular step or part of the program.
  • The only requirement for membership of these groups is the desire to stop drinking or using drugs. It is not necessary to sign up to anything in order to attend.
  • These groups rely on anonymity – this means that what happens in the meetings stays in the meetings. IN AA they say, what you see here, where you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.
  • There is no need to pay money to attend the meeting but there is usually a collection. There is no need to contribute anything to this collection, and it is only expected from those who can afford it. This money is used to keep the meetings going, and there is no profit made.
  • These meetings will usually last for one hour. It is common for people to go for a coffee afterwards.
  • There will usually be a speaker who talks about their life before and after addiction.
  • There will usually be a reading from the recovery literature. For example, in Alcoholics Anonymous they will usually read from the Big Book.
  • The secretary of the meeting is appointed by the group, and they do this as voluntary work. Their role is to introduce the speaker and keep order during the meetings.

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