Understanding 12 Step Programs Understanding 12 step programs is the first step to making good use of them in your recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Learning about the different kinds of meetings, what to expect at those meetings and what is expected of you can help you better understand 12 step programs and how they can help you.

The 12 step philosophy of abstinence is hugely important to the theoretical foundation of Michael’s House. We believe in an holistic approach that incorporates a multitude of therapeutic options to help the individual find their own balance and unique authentic self in drug and alcohol rehab. Contact us at Michael’s House today for more information.

group in 12 step meeting

Open Meetings and Closed Meetings

One of the protective features of 12 step programs is that it is anonymous. Everything said in a meeting is meant to be kept private to protect the person who shares their personal information. In some cases, though, people who are not addicts or alcoholics want to attend a 12 step meeting. They may be a student interested in the subject of recovery, a family member, a therapist or anyone interested in finding out more about 12 step programs. In order to protect the integrity of the meeting, some are labeled as ‘open meetings’ to allow for the inclusion of people who don’t understand and require the anonymity that comes with 12 steps. ‘Closed meetings’ are only for addicts and alcoholics so that participants can more safely share what they need to talk about with anonymity.

Discussion Meetings and Speaker Meetings

There are two different structures to 12 step program meetings: discussion meetings and speaker meetings. Speaker meetings are divided into two parts. The first part is handed over to a speaker who has been chosen ahead of time, someone who has had time to prepare to speak and share about their experience with drugs and alcohol and treatment. Many start with how they started using, talk about their worst experiences while actively addicted to drugs and alcohol, and then discuss the drug treatment they underwent to escape that lifestyle. Afterward, the speaker generally picks a topic of discussion and participants are free to raise their hand and share.

Discussion meetings are generally run by the moderator of the meeting. A topic is chosen and the floor is open for participants to share their views, experiences, and advice for others.

What Is Expected of You

If you are a part of a 12 step program, you will be expected, first and foremost, to exercise discretion. You will hear extremely personal confessions called “shares” during each meeting and you are expected to keep what you hear inside “the rooms” and refrain from discussing it with anyone. You are also expected to participate. Though you are given plenty of room to do so at your own pace, at some point, you will take on a sponsor, work the steps and eventually take on “sponsees” as you help others to work the steps as well.

You are also expected to lend a helping hand. Whether that means bringing snacks to the next meeting or volunteering to put away the folding chairs when the meeting is over, service is a big part of the 12 step program.

Make Connections

It’s not a requirement for participants to find and connect with a sponsor, and similarly, they’re not required to work as a sponsor for someone new to recovery. However, working in a close relationship with someone else could have a meaningful impact on a person’s addiction. For example, a sponsor could provide invaluable help and support when the urge to use drugs begins to strike, preventing a relapse from taking place. Working as a sponsor could also remind people of the struggles they’ve overcome in the fight against addiction, and that might also help to prevent a backslide to bad behavior.

In addition to working as a sponsor, people in recovery might give back by:

  • Volunteering to work in meetings held in prisons
  • Sharing their story of recovery in a meeting
  • Volunteering in a needle-exchange program in the community
  • Participating in community cleanup projects

Helping others like this is associated with a greater level of abstinence, according to a study in the journal Addiction, and it could be considered vital to a person’s long-term recovery.

12 Step Program and Michael’s House

At Michael’s House in Palm Springs, California, we provide for the inclusion of 12 step-style meetings and the practice of an abstinence-based philosophy at our holistic drug and alcohol rehab and sober living estates. Allow us to assist you in healing after drug and alcohol addiction. Call today at 760-548-4032.