If you’ve never participated in a 12-step group before, you can have a lot of misconceptions about what you’ll experience. 12-step groups are based on AA’s original 12 steps for recovery. You don’t have to complete all steps at once. There’s no mandatory time frame or single path to completing the steps. If you think a 12-step program Northern IL people have benefited from could also help you, Northern Illinois Recovery offers 12-step programs to help.
What to expect during a 12-step program in residential treatment: Getting started.
What if you see someone you know at a 12-step meeting? How could you stand up and confess your life history to a group of strangers? You shouldn’t worry about these events at your first 12-step meeting. At the first meeting, you’ll be oriented to the way the meeting runs.
At your first meeting, you’ll probably experience the following elements that are common to all 12-step groups:
- Social time (usually 10 minutes or so) – you don’t have to socialize with anyone but some group members may come up and introduce themselves.
- Orientation to the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
- Your meeting can be an open discussion or feature one speaker.
- A step meeting focuses on one of the 12 steps: step meetings are usually closed. A closed meeting means that only 12-step group members and prospective members will attend.
You could encounter someone you know or someone who recognizes you at the meeting. However, 12 step groups don’t try to recruit members, don’t keep attendance records, and don’t share any information they hear from others. If you’re asked to go to a 12 step meeting by the court, you’ll be sent to a meeting with a procedure for recording your attendance.
You should visit more than one 12-step group to find out which one is best for you. Each meeting has a different feeling or character, depending on its members and history.
What to expect during a 12-step program in terms of peer group support.
If you’re attending outpatient treatment, outpatient programs can combine group and/or individual counseling with education and peer group support. Peer groups don’t have to be 12-step groups, but many of them are. You should pick a group that fits your personality and needs.
You can have a sponsor within your 12-step program. Sponsors have significant experience in a 12-step program. They share knowledge with you and give you support for staying sober. If you have a crisis, the sponsor can help you to overcome the crisis without relapsing.
A simplified version of the 12 steps is sometimes called the “six pack.” The six pack includes:
- Don’t drink or use drugs
- Go to meetings
- Ask for help
- Get a sponsor
- Join a group
- Get active
The support you get from your peers in the group fits into the “six pack.”
What to expect during a 12-step program in alumni or aftercare: Ongoing recovery.
If 12-step programs are a good fit for you, chances are you’ll locate a meeting that fits your personality and needs. Some people become sober and continue to attend meetings for the rest of their lives.
The anonymous nature of 12-step programs makes it harder for researchers to find out which parts of the program are most helpful in reinforcing sobriety and ongoing recovery. Studies of 12-step groups have found the following common elements of success: people in 12-step groups report a feeling of no longer being alone, having hope, and getting support from others with the same challenges. They have stronger social supports and report feeling more in control of their lives. I
It’s natural to wonder what to expect during a 12-step program, but many people who’ve become sober and built a strong recovery at Northern Illinois Recovery have benefited from them. Contact us at 855.786.1978 to find out more about 12-step groups and other treatments that can help you.