Alcoholism is one of the most common issues in the United States. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, at least 14.5 million people in the US over 12 had Alcohol Use Disorder that year.
Recovery from alcohol abuse is a long process that could take years, but you may get to a point where you feel like you don’t need to attend meetings anymore. You may consider stopping your 12-step AA meetings because it’s all stuff you already know. But is that the right decision?
Here’s why AA meetings are essential for staying sober and why you may want to stick with them.
The Importance of 12-Step AA Meetings
The history of 12-step AA meetings goes back to the 1930s.
The program was created to combat alcoholism by connecting to God and facing all the harm a person has done while under the influence. In fact, the final step involves carrying on the message learned and practicing all the other principles learned in the process.
All AA meetings take inspiration from the 12-steps, if not basing their process on it. They may function as group meetings, closed sessions, or even involve the discussion of specific topics.
Regardless of what you attend, you should work through the steps before deciding whether it’s a good fit for you. This is especially true if you believe in a higher power and the message they convey.
Reasons to Stay In 12-Step Meetings.
Are you thinking about stopping your 12-step meetings and going it alone? Maybe you think you’ve done enough that staying sober won’t be an issue. Or perhaps you feel like you’ve finished all the steps you can do.
However, there are plenty of reasons to continue AA meetings, including how it affects the others around you.
First, preventing relapse is one of the main goals of AA meetings. You can quit drinking a hundred times and start up again in no time if you don’t have the necessary tools or mindset.
If you’re already in a 12-step program, you already know all this. However, fighting an addiction like alcohol or drug abuse doesn’t ever end. Ideally, it gets easier, but the urges and the habits that led to that abuse never go away.
Provide Moral Support for Newcomers
The hardest step when starting Alcoholics Anonymous is opening up to a group of strangers you may have never met before. Anyone who has joined AA knows the pressure and fear going in. It may or may not add to the stress that honesty is also the very first step of AA.
While you may have overcome that struggle, plenty of people haven’t. You want to provide a space that embodies honesty and acceptance so they can open up without fear of judgment.
If you stop attending AA meetings, you can’t provide comfort for new attendees. You could tell them a little bit about what to expect. Serve as their first contact to help break the ice.
In some cases, overcoming alcoholism means isolating yourself from friends and family that drive you to drink. You may be a social drinker, or they cause a lot of stress in your life. Regardless of the reason, it can cause a lot of lonely feelings.
As such, these AA meetings are often the only time you can lower your walls and let people in. You probably already have strong connections with some of the other members. There are likely also those you only ever see at the meetings, whether because of work or other factors.
Provide a Structured Environment
Structure is key to maintaining your sobriety. One of the reasons why people fall victim to drug and alcohol abuse is because they feel like their lives lack control.
AA meetings provide a time and place that you need to be every week. Some people attend their local meetings a few times a week. Others need to go daily, especially early on in their recovery.
Knowing that you have a place to go on certain nights may help you avoid getting bored and going somewhere you shouldn’t. It’ll also help keep you on track with your sobriety.
Maintain a Strong Spiritual Awareness
In AA tradition, the twelve steps are known as the 12 spiritual principles. Despite that, there’s a lot of mention of a higher power.
If you’re a religious or spiritual person, continuing your AA meetings can help strengthen your faith. Many studies show religious and spiritual beliefs can reduce the chance of substance abuse.
Even if you’re not religious, the ideals taught in AA are positive. Some programs remove any mention of God or a higher power, instead focusing on faith, honesty, humility, and repentance.
Is It Ever Okay to Stop?
There might come a time when you think you should step away from your AA group. Maybe you feel like it isn’t working out for you, or your mentality doesn’t mesh well with the program. There’s also a chance that the topics in the group trigger an adverse reaction.
Luckily, there is a wide range of AA support available to people who need it. Closed meetings are more private, so only people facing the same issues as you will show up. There are also online AA chatrooms that are available 24/7.
No one is forcing you to stay on a program you dislike. However, there are many different AA groups that you can try out. It may be worth it to join a different group if you’re unsatisfied with your current one, even if it adds some time to your drive.
Find An AA Meeting Near You
AA meetings bring many benefits to your life, such as structure, camaraderie, and openness. The last thing you should do is quit it cold turkey, even if you don’t like the people there. Instead, you can look for a new group.
12 Step Illinois wants you to find the appropriate meeting for your drug addiction or alcoholism. We can help connect you with AA, NA, and AI-Anon meetings in your area. Contact us to learn more and check out our list of meetings near you.