After treatment can be a very confusing time—for the past couple months you’ve been helped in planning your days carefully and thoughtfully but now you are left to your own devises. What now? Think about the things that you need in your life to succeed. You have learned many techniques in treatment on how to cope with life on life’s terms outside of treatment, apply it!
You were taught relapse prevention skills on how to avoid and deal with triggers, how to manage your emotions without the use of drugs and alcohol, and how addiction is in fact a disease. You now know all of these great skills, but without someone there to help you plan your day, how are you going to maintain your sobriety? Take what you have learned, get to a 12-Step meeting and watch your life change before your eyes. You will never find a place with more honesty, bravery, and support than in a 12-Step meeting.
12-Step meetings will allow you to fellowship with others and meet great influences, provide you with an outlet other than drugs and alcohol when times get tough, and meetings will remind you that you are not fighting this fight alone. A meeting is a great place for all individuals who are recovering and have recovered. It is a comfortable place where you will listen to others share their experience, strength, and hope on how they have long lasting sobriety. Meetings are the best place to make new friends and most rewarding place you can be while trying to maintain your sobriety.
Walking into a meeting for your first time will be intimidating; there are going to unfamiliar faces, multiple chairs to choose from, and people wanting to give you hugs. Instead of hiding under your hoodie- smile back, choose a chair next to another person of the same gender, introduce yourself, and as awkward as it may be the first time – hug back. Meetings aren’t just a place to maintain sobriety; they are a place to meet new healthy friends that are good influences, as well as your sponsor. A sponsor is someone who walks with you through the steps.
You don’t want to find these new friends at the local bar or casino like you are used too. Think of meetings as a sober “local bar” that only serves coffee- create friendship there. Having a solid foundation of individuals to lean on is important, especially having people there for you who understand. You’ll finally meet true friends. Once you go, you’ll feel as if you’ve finally found a safe place to rest where you can surround yourself with people who are there for you.
2. Provide an Outlet
12-Step meetings are a safe place with safe non-judgmental people. If you are feeling like picking up a drink or drug, instead of calling a dealer or a cab to the bar, call one of your new friends in recovery. They will gladly get you to your safe place with no judgement. Going to a meeting when you are in a fragile state of mind will help you because you are able to talk about what is going on in your head and others can relate and help the situation.
Sharing at a meeting will allow you to release some of your pent up stress and tension. It is not always possible or desirable to talk to your family about worries and concerns, especially if you feel like they won’t understand. A 12 Step meeting can be the ideal venue for you to unburden yourself; not only will sharing give you an outlet, it will show you that you are not alone.
3. You are not Alone
In active addiction it was easy for you to isolate yourself- this is a behavior that needs to be dropped in order to maintain sobriety. Get uncomfortable and do something you normally wouldn’t do. There are people at meetings from all walks of life that you can relate to, which will inspire you to maintain your sobriety. You are going to meet people old and young who have anywhere from 24 hours of sobriety to 24 years.
The cool thing about working a 12-Step program is being able to make friends with people who normally don’t mix. You will be able to relate and share stories with all kinds of people. The thing about hearing all these stories on how others stayed sober is taking what you have learned from others in the program and applying it to your life. Hopefully, with dedication and ambition, you may even take on your own sponsees in the future! Working with a newcomer will remind you of why you started.
4. Restores Faith
Walking into a meeting and seeing the light in the eyes of an individual who just picked up a 24-hour chip will fill you with a joy you have never known. Experiencing something so beautiful will remind you of why you started in the first place. If you are having a hard day, remember the feeling of picking up a 24-hour chip and how excited you were for 30 days to come.
Never lose that faith you had when you first walked into the rooms. The light inside of you should never die out. Stay young in meeting rooms, as time goes on don’t get too over confident. Always remember the happiness sobriety has brought into your life and if you are to ever forget, walk into a meeting and have someone new restore your faith.
One of the unique things about meetings is that someone doesn’t have to have 30 years to teach you something; sometimes it is the people with the least amount of time who have the most to offer. Meetings insure long lasting sobriety because of the happiness that comes with them. Working a 12-Step program can give you a feeling of fulfillment and reminds you to always stay grateful.
It is a Lifestyle
Sobriety is not a one-day act; it is something you work at on a daily basis. It is a lifestyle filled with people who care about you and want you to find happiness in sobriety. There is no better way to maintain that sobriety than going to a meeting, working the 12-Steps, and prayer. Not all days are going to be perfect in sobriety but your sober life will be more fulfilling than a life surrounded by drugs and alcohol.