12 Step Online Community
One of the fundamental goals of the 12-step program is to provide a community for people who are struggling with addiction or who are in recovery, and for the loved ones of these people. Addiction recovery is made possible with this community and the support it provides. At recovery group meetings, members discuss their experiences with addiction and in so doing receive support from others and feel relief because they have been able to express themselves. Additionally, individuals learn from hearing the experiences and stories of others, and find peace knowing that they are not alone in their struggles.
12 step meetings are typically small, ranging from roughly 5 to 25 people. If they are larger, meetings often split into smaller groups after an initial discussion or reading so that everyone has a chance to speak. Even if you do not want to share in meetings, you can benefit from hearing the experiences of others and thus feel a sense of closeness with the people in your group. Groups are anonymous, but that does not take away from the sense of a 12 step community.
Sponsorship in 12 Step Programs
Many twelve-step programs use a sponsorship program to help their members maintain their commitment to recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous was established with this concept in mind, and it has been adopted by many of the group’s offshoots. How sponsorship works is that a member who has made progress in his or her own recovery may share that experience in a continuous way with another, usually more new member. This sponsor-sponsee relationship is an important part of the experience for those involved in the relationship, though it does not mean that the sponsor is at any sort of higher level than the person or people they sponsor – everyone is equals in the 12-step community.
The sponsor relationship helps people maintain their recovery between meetings, and especially helps those who are new to the program understand the program and learn how to work it. This also helps facilitate their entrance into the community, making it easier to feel comfortable at meetings. Sponsorship also applies to the idea that the whole group feels a responsibility to help newcomers, and to make them feel welcome.
The 12-Step Online Community
Another awesome aspect about the 12 step community is that technology has brought it online. Many of the 12 step recovery groups and organizations offer online meetings, online forums and other types of online community building. The 12 step online community makes it possible for people to keep their recovery close, no matter where they are. Face-to-face meetings are still the primary aspect of twelve step programs, but online meetings do increase accessibility and help people work their program in the most effective way possible.
12 step programs are meant to be a safe, supportive community where people can freely express themselves. Meetings often have coffee, start with some light discussion, and are meant to be relaxed. Newcomers are always welcome, and there are many different meetings around the world. If you find that one group doesn’t resonate with you, don’t give up right away. There are plenty of groups and meetings to try out in the larger 12 step community.