M(3), 3/24: What is the Magic Number for 12-Step Meetings?
And a happy Monday to everyone! I’m tending to a sick child this afternoon, so this one’s going to be short and sweet.
For today’s meeting I selected an article from the AA Grapevine, The International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. The magazine I used was from 2004, but the topic is as relevant today as it was ten years ago. The author discussed the struggle he had with determining the appropriate number of 12-step meetings he needs to attend in order to maintain his sobriety.
Within the meeting this morning, there are members who attend 3-4 meetings every single day, and there are members who attend only two per week; both “sides” are sober, happy, productive human beings. So what is the magic number?
For me, earliest sobriety demanded that I attend a meeting every single day. Daily meetings created structure and routine, compelled me to get to know people personally, showed me how “the winners” were achieving sobriety, and gave me an outlet when my days were not going well. I committed to this routine for a year; the more common recommendation within my fellowship is to complete a “90 in 90” when you are first getting sober; in other words, attend 90 meetings in 90 days.
As sobriety becomes a more natural way of life, and the urge to drink has been lifted, most of us face the question: how many meetings do you need? In my second year of sobriety, I slowly eased back on meeting attendance, and started intentionally choosing the ones from which I derived the most benefits. In this, my third year, I have three each week to which I am committed: the one I run, one where I serve as secretary, and one that serves almost as a study group, to keep the principles of the program fresh in my mind. Of course, there are weeks that I miss one, and there are weeks when I am able to pop in on other meetings, but I have found keeping a commitment to three works for me today.
Another attendee this morning shared something very interesting. She has more than 25 years of sobriety, and she attends the same number of weekly meetings currently as she did when she first got sober: 4. She realized, for the first time this morning, that 4 was the exact number of days she drank in active addiction. Interesting stuff! She views her meeting attendance as medicine, and when she is not able to get to four meetings, she feels the change within, all those “isms” start floating back to the surface. She remains grateful that she has a medicine that is so available, so economical (read: free), and so effective in fixing what ails her!
Another gentleman said he once involved himself in the great AA debate: which is more important, meeting attendance, or working the 12 steps of recovery? For him, they are equally important. Without regular meeting attendance, he does not get to witness the value and the effectiveness of working the steps, and therefore feels unmotivated to work them in his own life. He views alcoholism as the disease that seeks to convince the afflicted that they have no disease, and he needs the meetings to keep fresh in his mind what got him sober in the first place.
At the end of the meeting, we concluded that there is no universal magic number, it is an entirely individual decision. However, it is important for each individual to consciously make that choice, take time to decide what level of commitment works best in maintaining individual sobriety. As with most things, being intentional about your sobriety will determine peace and serenity. And speaking of peace and serenity, time to head upstairs and see if I can impart some to a sick child!
Gratitude that I can serve in my role as a Mom today!