Your First Meeting Checklist

Going to your first 12 step meeting can feel overwhelming. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And you don’t know a thing about AA or NA.

Don’t worry. Here’s a first meeting checklist, giving you everything you need for first meeting success.

Find the Right Meeting

While any meeting is better than no meeting, finding the right 12 step meeting for your first experience can determine your whole attitude regarding the Rooms. Here are a few hints to finding one that’s right for you.

  • Find a meeting close to home. Although you may be tempted to go far away so you don’t run into anyone you know, don’t worry about that. That’s why it’s called Alcoholics Anonymous, because it’s anonymous. If you do run into some you know, they’re not going to tell anyone. That’s kind of AA’s thing. If you’re in need of drug or alcohol treatment, call 800-781-0748 (Who Answers?) to find the immediate help you need.
  • Ask around. If you already know someone in a 12 step program, ask her for a recommendation. Chances are she’s hit all the meetings in your area and will know which one is best for a newbie.
  • Consider a specialized group. If you have trouble opening up around the opposite sex or want a religious focus to your recovery, find a group that meets those needs. From all men to LGBTQ, to meetings for those of specific faiths, finding a specialized meeting can make you more comfortable.

Get There Early

Your First Meeting

Introduce yourself at the start of the meeting so that others may offer their support.

Once you decide on what meeting you want to go to, make sure you get there early. This gives you time to find the place and where the meeting is located within the building. It also allows time to get coffee and gives some of the others the opportunity to introduce themselves.

Introduce Yourself

Every 12 step meeting starts pretty much the same way. There’s the AA Preamble, the Serenity prayer, and the reading of the steps and traditions. Then there’s the moment you’ve been dreading, the moment when the speaker asks if there’s any newcomers there. While you may be tempted to keep your hand down, don’t. Stand up. Introduce yourself. And tell everyone it’s your first meeting.

By introducing yourself at the beginning of the meeting, you give all the other members the opportunity to introduce themselves to you and offer their support both then and after the meeting’s ended.

Pass the Hat

Once the meeting is almost over, there may be a hat that’s passed around. Twelve-step meetings are self-run, and the donations the hat brings in help cover the costs of coffee, snacks, and educational material. If you can, throw in a dollar of two. While it’s not mandatory, it is common. But if you can’t, don’t use it as an excuse not to go. No one notices who throws in and who doesn’t.

Preparing for Your First 12 Step Meeting

Accept What’s Offered

Once the meeting’s over, be prepared. People will approach you. They’ll give you hugs. And they’ll give you phone numbers. They may even ask if you’d like to go out for coffee. Accept these offers. Embrace what people give you. If you’re serious about recovery, you’re going to need all the support you can find.

If you’re ready to discover your path to recovery, call 800-781-0748 (Who Answers?) today to get the immediate help that may save your life.

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: ARK Behavioral Health, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

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