When you attend a 12-step meeting for the first time, you might feel awkward. It might feel funny to be in a group of people who are passionate about recovery. And if you’re new to the group, then it might feel odd simply because you don’t know anyone. However, once you find a meeting in your neighborhood that you like and as you continue to attend, your feelings will change. In fact, your feelings may change so much that you find yourself wanting to get all that you can out of the group. You really want to utilize the group so that it’s benefiting your recovery.

Here are suggestions for making the most out of a 12-step group:

Commit yourself to attending. Although at the start it might feel strange to share your feelings with a group of strangers, pretty soon that emotional connection might actually feel supportive and even nurturing. Although you might have a disagreement with someone or feel triggered by someone sitting next to you one day, keep going. Don’t let the small discomforts that can come with group interaction interfere with your ability to get the most out of the experience.

Actively participate. Commitment and participation go hand in hand. For instance, if you’re committed to a group then you’re likely going to participate in it actively. With a 12-step group, you might consider getting a sponsor, and when the time is right, becoming a sponsor yourself. You might also consider lending a hand when you see someone in need, or welcoming a new member of the group – just as you were welcomed when you joined. You might also want to volunteer to setup or take down at the start and/or end of each meeting. By participating actively you give your energy toward the goal you want to reach – ┬áliving a new, happy, healthy and sober life.

Get support. One of the great benefits of attending a 12-step meeting on a regular basis is the community. There are often many people who want to lend a hand. At the very least, there might be members of the group who might offer you a ride to and from the meeting. They might call you on occasion to see how you’re doing. Or they might give you a big hug one day as you walk in. Of course, there are also sponsors who are there to assist you in working the 12-steps of the program. They are there to provide general support too so that you’re not alone in the transformation that recovery can bring. Once you are attending a meeting regularly, ask for a sponsor that you can meet with on a regular basis. .

Follow the 12-step program. Each of the 12 steps were created to facilitate change and well being throughout a person’s recovery. Each and every person who is in recovery has the opportunity to go as deep as they want with each step. But you don’t have to make the 12-steps hard work. Simply follow each step with an open heart and a willingness to explore your inner terrain.

These are suggestions for utilizing a 12-step meeting so that you’re gaining the most out of your experience. These suggestions aren’t only meant to help you with your experience at meetings, but they are also meant to support your recovery in general. As you can imagine, being actively involved in recovery can support your overall well being and sobriety.

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