When I first started in recovery I was told that if I want to get it and to keep it I needed to do five things: don’t drink/use, go to meetings, get a home group, get a sponsor, work the steps. A little over seven years later, I’m still doing these five things and I would have to say that there is no way my life would be as complete as it is today without following that advice.

Over the years I’ve probably gone to an average of six meetings a week.  At the beginning I often went twice a day: it gave me something to focus upon and besides, I didn’t know what else to do with my time. Before recovery I spent most of my time drinking/using or scheming to drink/use, scrounging for cash or dreaming of the perfect high. Now (somewhat) sober, I found meetings allowed me a reprieve from drifting back into my old ways of thinking and taught me new ways of approaching life.

By going to meetings I learned how others applied the steps to their lives. I could use their experience as my own. I know what happens when you allow anger to take over your life because I have heard about the experience of others. I don’t have to invent tools and approaches to situations because I can borrow the tools and approaches that others have shared at meetings. I don’t have to wonder what will happen to me if I stop going to meetings because fellow members have shared what happened to them when they stopped. I may only have a day or a week or a year or 10 years in recovery, but if I go to meetings with an open mind I can benefit from the many, many years of experience of those that are sharing around the table. You’re my team and without you, I have no chance of winning.

Early on I was taught the 70-20-10 rule of going to recovery meetings. Seventy percent of the time you hear good solid material that you can pack into your toolbox and use at a later date. Twenty percent of the time what you hear has you at the edge of your seat because it’s exactly what you need to hear now. And ten percent of the time the share is a lesson in patience and tolerance of others. What I must remember in this, because it has happened to me it that while I may be experiencing a  10% moment, it could be a 20% moment for another person in the room. I can always learn something at a meeting.

Making meetings isn’t the program of recovery; the Twelve Steps are the program. Meetings, however, are part of the way that I can learn about the program and deepen my understanding. They are one of those first five things that have been working for me in my recovery. When I feel I don’t really need a meeting or I don’t want to go, that, I have learned too, is exactly when I need to go to a meeting. I keep the program close to my heart and mind; I don’t even want to consider the alternative. I’ll stick with the winning team.

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