How To Engage In A 12-Step Meeting

After you have completed a treatment program for alcohol and substance abuse, you want to make sure that you keep up with continued care and support. Group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, for instance, are a popular way to meet, discuss, and socialize with others that understand you and are in the same boat as you trying to remain sober. If you have never been to a support group, likely, you don’t know how to start or what to expect. 

The idea of going into the unknown is understandably intimidating. It may even stop you from moving forward and getting the continued support you need. You don’t have to be anxious or afraid to get into a new group and become a member. Here are some tips to help you adjust quickly and smoothly.

Speak To The Group

When responding to another person or sharing your opinions or stories, refrain from speaking directly to only one or a select few people. The group is meant to be an open environment that everyone is a part of. Speaking to the entire group keeps everyone engaged and doesn’t make anyone feel like they are being either excluded from the conversation or singled out.

Speak In First Person

Try using more “I/we” statements over second-person talk which uses “you.”

Taking Turns

It is important to feel comfortable enough to share your story and your feelings. If you have already had the floor at one meeting, wait until the next to share more. Also, keep your time sharing to a respectful 3-4 minutes. Taking turns so that everyone can speak keeps a higher level of participation and a sense of belonging. If no one in the group is willing to talk, then go ahead and talk, it might motivate another to speak up. 

Stay In Your Seat

When the group begins you must be engaged and attentive to others as they should be to you. Grabbing a drink or using the restroom should be done before the group begins. Stay in your seat throughout the meeting if possible.

Make The Most Out Of Your Time

Arriving early and staying 10-15 minutes after allows you to be more accessible to others and them to you so you can get to know each other better.

Stay On Topic

When a topic is introduced, try to stay focused on it.


Whether you identify as an alcoholic or an addict AA meetings are open to you. When you identify yourself though, the practice is to say you are an “alcoholic.” Also, use the word “drinking” versus “using.” For an NA meeting it is the opposite, identify as an “addict” and say “using” over “drinking.”


Never share with others outside of the meeting who was in attendance unless you have specific consent from an individual to do so.

In addition to the tips above here are some other considerations when you are in a support group:

  • Turn off or silence your cell phone during the meeting.
  • Obtain a sponsor.
  • Obtain a phone list.

Tennessee Programs With Continued Care

How To Engage In A 12-Step MeetingDiscovery Place’s Tennessee-based addiction alternative treatment center has a terrific in-patient program as well as a continuing care program. The continuing care support program is given during the first year of recovery after treatment. Additionally, we offer a long-term addiction alternative recovery program for either 30 or 60 days so that you can better transition from treatment to the real world. At Discovery Place, when you leave you will still have support.

Discovery Place’s Tennessee 12-step addiction alternative center’s team is here to talk with you about your needs, call us today to get started on your road to recovery at 1-800-725-0922.

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