Tips for Sharing at 12-step Meetings

Sharing at 12-step meetings is a way to feel like part of the group, which strengthens recovery. It helps you get clarity on problems and keeps you from delusional thinking. Most importantly, it’s a way of helping others by letting them know they aren’t alone. Sharing is good for sobriety. Here are some tips for sharing at meetings.

Put your hand up. The chair will call you to share. It’s a bit rude just to start talking.

Remember, no one is there to judge you. You may be embarrassed to talk about things you did while in active addiction. You may just hate the idea of getting up and talking in front of people you hardly know. Most people feel that way. Just try to remember that whatever you say, everyone there has heard it before and probably much worse. Meetings are about mutual support. No one will be judging what you did or scoring your presentation.

Use some discretion. While everyone is there to support each other, and it’s unlikely anyone would intentionally cause you any problems, what you say in a meeting is not legally protected the way a discussion with a therapist or lawyer is. You don’t always know everyone in the room. Someone might be totally trustworthy while sober and a little too chatty if she relapses. You want to be honest about the impact drugs and alcohol have had on your life, but you don’t want to get yourself into any more trouble. And you certainly don’t want to get other people in trouble.

Respect other people’s time. Everyone who wants to share should get an opportunity. Out of respect for the group, try to focus on the most important thing you want to say. Some meetings will have specific topics for discussion, so try to limit yourself to that topic. This way, everyone gets an opportunity to speak and you won’t accidentally abuse anyone’s courtesy. If you feel like there was something important you didn’t get to say, there’s always tomorrow.

Stay focused on yourself. Sharing is for discussing how your addiction has affected you and others, how you’ve tried to combat it, how your recovery is going, and so on. It’s not a platform for criticising others, especially others in the room. If someone else’s actions have affected you in some way relevant to your recovery, stay focused on how you’re handling it instead of going off on a tangent about the other person.

Avoid divisive topics. It’s generally not polite to discuss health, religion, or politics. In recovery, health is often a major issue for people, so that’s safe to discuss. Religion is going to come up in a 12-step meeting whether you like it or not, but it’s up to you whether you want to be that person. That leaves politics as the major divisive issue to avoid. Meetings are supposed to be a safe, supportive environment and it’s hard to be supportive if everyone is sizing each other up as either a commie or fascist. Leave politics at the door and remember everyone there has the same goal.

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