8 Things to Know about 12-step Meetings

by Church Health Reader Editors

Twelve step meetings are the primary way that people struggling with addiction support each other. Meetings are held all over in the world in churches, community centers, storefronts, skyscrapers and even online. While certain elements are the same across meetings, each meeting is also distinct. Below are 8 things to know about 12-step meetings, from who can go to what to expect when you get there:

1. Open/Closed Meetings  Open meetings can be attended by anyone including family members and others who are affected by an addict. Closed meetings are for people who see themselves as struggling or living with an addiction

2. Anonymous – Who attends the meeting and what is said during the meeting must stay in the meeting. Anonymity is of upmost importance.

3. Non-judgmental – Anonymity provides the spiritual foundation for meetings to be open and honest. Statements judging or ridiculing participants are unacceptable.

4. No fees – A basket is often passed around during each meeting, but contributions are not required.

5. Participants – In most 12-step meetings, you will find people who are very early in their recovery journey as well as people who have been in recovery for years.

6. Peer-led – There are no designated meeting leaders. Leaders rotate throughout the group.

7. No cross-talk – When someone is speaking during a 12-step meeting, other participants listen. No one else talks until the person has finished speaking.

8. No advice – Participants in 12-step meetings can speak of their personal experiences and their own responses to challenges, but they will not say, “This is what you should do…”

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