In the recovery world, there is a slogan which has been around for a long time that is far from always being true. Often it’s the old-timers (people with long periods of sobriety from some type of addiction) who use this phrase but that’s not always the case either. Regardless of who says it, the statement that “Meeting makers make it…” is extremely misleading, especially to a newcomer for any type of recovery from any addiction.
Recovery from an addiction is so much more than just attending a 12 Step meeting every day. In fact, something that is suggested for newcomers to recovery from any addiction is to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. While attending a 12 Step meeting can often help in one’s path to becoming recovered from an addiction, I’ve come to learn that there is so much more work to be done in a program of recovery than just going to those meetings.
It seems as if each week now I’m being notified of yet another person who has relapsed, overdosed, or died. A group member of mine in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) world did so just a few weeks back and he attended many 12 Step meetings diligently. But that wasn’t enough to keep him clean and sober. Recovery is so much more than that. The work to be done in it involves more than just sitting through an hour a day or several hours a day of people talking about their recovery. It involves a complete life changing experience when one undertakes that path. Going to a 12 Step meeting is just the beginning of that path. Getting a sponsor, becoming a member of a home group, taking on a position in that group, reading the literature from that recovery program, doing the writing exercises, sponsoring another, making amends, and going out to speak about one’s experience, strength, and hope are all activities that are just as important as attending those 12 Step meetings. And that’s just what one would do in their recovery circles. But what about outside of those circles?
Recovery from an addiction is not just about what one does in their 12 Step program, it’s also about how a person maintains their life outside of that program. How do they treat other people day to day such as at their jobs or in social gatherings? What do they do when no one else is paying attention to them? Are they lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, or judging throughout their days? Are they still holding onto unhealthy and toxic people still active in the same addiction? Are they substituting one addiction for another? Each of these questions are just as important to answer and do work surrounding them as it with attending those 12 Step meetings and doing the recovery program based activities I mentioned above.
The truth is, finding recovery from any addiction is tough work. It really is so much more than just going to a 12 Step meeting. Time and time again, people come in for weeks, months, and even years, doing nothing more than just attending those meetings. And while those meetings may help that person on some level in their recovery to understand their addiction better, it’s not making that big of a dent into what causes this person to act out in their addiction in the first place. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do enough to get to the root of that person’s disease.
I spent 12 years in sobriety from alcohol and drugs doing nothing more than going to meetings. My disease remained active on many levels because of it. Thank God I never relapsed with those addictions, but I can say, without a doubt, that no matter how many meetings I attended, until I was ready to do the work in all areas of my life to rid myself of the disease, I stayed relatively toxic and sick.
Meeting makers don’t always make it. For those who do nothing more than attend those 12 Step meetings, many will end up relapsing, some will overdose, and a number will eventually even die from their disease. Recovery is so much more than making a meeting. It involves some serious life altering changes that involve both work inside the halls of recovery and outside in one’s own personal life. If you truly want to find full recovery from any addiction, seek a Higher Power, turn your entire will and life over to that Higher Power, and ask for the strength to do all the work necessary to achieve that. You’ll probably still end up going to many 12 Step meetings because of it, but you’ll also find yourself doing a lot more than that too in becoming fully recovered from your addiction once and for all.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson