Tips for Etiquette at 12-Step Meetings

Tips for Etiquette at 12-Step Meetings

Meetings for a 12-Step program are one of the keys to getting connected in your sobriety. Other people who are also trying to stay sober come to these meetings to get the tools and the solution that they need to better understand their addiction while learning what they need to do to recover from it. If you have just started attending 12-Step meetings to appease a judge, a family member, or fulfill your obligation in your outpatient program, you could be confused about what the etiquette of the meeting really is.

You keep hearing about a 12-Step program being based on suggestions and wonder how everyone is acting pretty civilized without there being any rules. The truth of the matter is that when someone is steadily participating in their recovery, they will learn how to live a life that is based on recovery principles such as integrity, honesty, and willingness. With all the principles as a means of working a program, a person can start seeing right from wrong. 

Typically, when a person first starts coming to meetings, they may be a little rough around the edges in how they act. Although there are no rules, there are unwritten standards that are meant to help a meeting be productive. You may not want to be at a meeting, but many who attend are there because they were dying of addiction and need some help to achieve cessation from drugs and alcohol once and for all. In this case, there are a few pointers that we can offer on how you can conduct yourself at a 12-Step meeting so everyone can get what they need out of it – even if it is just to get your attendance sheet signed. 

Be mindful of others who are speaking.

For some people, speaking in front of a group, especially about vulnerable topics, can be distracting when others are talking when they are. There is a time and a place for speaking and that should really be done before the meeting, after the meeting, when someone else prompts you to speak, or when it becomes your turn to share. Being courteous to others during a time of personal humility will not only show your support but help you to become courteous in other areas of your life. This also gives you an opportunity to listen to how others are staying sober and use their perception as your own. You can take what you need and leave the rest behind by letting others share their experience, strength, and hope.

Keep your phone out of sight.

In today’s world, our phones are basically our whole world. When you are at a meeting, texting, looking at social media or other apps can be distracting to those who are around you. Not only does it show that you do not want to pay attention, but you are also displaying a bad example for others to follow suit with. If someone is calling you, they can wait for an hour. If someone is texting, you are not being rude to not answer them right away. If you go viral during the meeting, you can wait until after the meeting to find out. Some people may also have a problem with the potential you have to take a picture with your phone even if you do not have your camera function on because of the anonymity that is held in high regard.  Doing the right thing is putting your phone away so that everyone stays focused on the solution.

Practice Anonymity Every Day.

The Twelfth Tradition is based on anonymity which means anyone can come and feel safe in knowing that “what you see here, what you say here, and what you hear here should be left here” is practiced. There are parents who are working on their sobriety that could be jeopardizing their custody and relationships with their kids. Some people who have certain professions such as law enforcement or education could be putting their livelihood on the line if someone were to find out that they were battling addiction. Even if they are proactively getting help now, their past could come into question and overall affect their job. Anonymity is important to many people who are trying to get the help that they need, and this 12-Step program could be the last house on the block for them. 

Taking 12-Step meeting etiquette to heart helps everyone involved. For you personally you can have the ability to find a couple of commitments to help get you to the meeting every week, give you the courage to talk to others who need some kindness directed at them and give you an opportunity to find a sponsor. When everyone follows the conduct that has been followed for decades, everyone wins one day at a time. 

Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Detox Center of Colorado offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Detox Center of Colorado fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463

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