AA and Meetings: How Participation Influences Your Recovery Status

How participating in AA and meetings will influence your recovery status

12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for nearly 100 years – and these programs provide readily available access to social support alongside a structured program that guides individuals through recovery. It’s been clear for quite some time now that addiction isn’t the only matter of concern; in fact, a person’s physical, mental and spiritual health is at risk when addiction is involved, and recovery aims to restore a person’s wellbeing in the best ways possible. 12-Step programs are based on the premise that as human beings, we can’t have control over everything – and sometimes we’re going to fail. With this knowledge, we can admit that we need help from God or another Higher Power – and 12-Step meetings foster this notion through discussion and recovery-related activities.

12-Step Meetings: What’s Needed for Success

A study published in the journal Social Work in Public Health found that there are a number of ways people can engage in 12-Step meetings, which ultimately contribute to their greater participation and success in recovery:

  • Doing service at meetings – such as taking notes, preparing the meeting space, etc.
  • Reading 12-Step literature – which includes the Big Book
  • Doing “step work” – as in working through the 12-Steps
  • Getting a sponsor – by getting to know a qualified individual and asking for their support
  • Calling other 12-Step members – in building a strong, supportive community by calling on peers during challenging times

These are certainly all ways that a person can become involved in 12-Step programs, but what about active participation? In 2018, Very Well Mind, a website that publishes helpful information on psychology and other disorders, noted that at first, participation may not be at the forefront of your mind – after all, you may be feeling nervous and want to simply see how it works. That’s completely understandable, and nobody will judge you for it. However, over time, you’re going to want to start opening up so that you can become more invested in the program itself.

Writer Michael Miller, MD, shared in an article published by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) that 12-Step participation can open a number of avenues for learning, such as through exploring one’s values, building one’s connections with others, accepting personal responsibility and humbly asking for help. Contributor Tori Utley explained to Forbes Magazine in 2016 that participation is incredibly important anyone wanted to find success in recovery. She stated:

No one would enroll in a course to learn CPR and expect it to be successful if they never showed up, weren’t paying attention or didn’t participate in the activities. Why do we hold programs like Alcoholics Anonymous to a different standard? In order to succeed in a program of any kind, you actually need to do it.”

With this important insight to 12-Step meetings, does participation change a person’s recovery status? Well, it depends.

Recovery Status: Making Realizations

Individuals who don’t seek formalized treatment but who simply attend 12-Step meetings are relying upon the fact that those support groups alone can turn their lives around; while 12-Step meetings certainly hold a ranking in success from many people in recovery, the most successful are individuals who engage in not only 12-Step programs but in treatment as well. In fact, this collaboration between several different aspects of recovery can strengthen an individual’s commitment to their program – which will improve their chances of success.

Cumberland Heights offers not only inpatient, outpatient and extended care, but we also foster spiritual recovery by integrating treatment with 12-Step programs. The foundation of these programs encourages individuals to look above and beyond their everyday lives to see hope in something bigger than themselves – with over 115,000 meetings worldwide, it’s clear that those in recovery do find significant benefit from participating in these programs.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes that integrated treatment programs can tackle a number of troubling perspectives for those in recovery, such as:

  • Helping families work alongside their loved ones in family therapy while also developing strategic coping skills for better living
  • Outreach through both treatment programs and 12-Step programs, as individuals recovering can become part of recovery-related activities that connected them to a greater community
  • One-on-one and group counseling to explore serious topics related to addiction and recovery, as well as the option to work through personal issues that have had a negative influence on a person’s life as well
  • Long-term perspectives, with support from both 12-Step programs and the treatment center through both formalized care and aftercare
  • Comprehensiveness – by evaluating a person’s mental, physical, social and spiritual stance, treatment is more easily adaptable to a person’s needs; 12-Step programs can support this mission in providing those in recovery with added peer support for addiction

Seek Help Today

If you’re ready to take a stand for your recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of two 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first. For more information, call 1-800-646-9998 today.