12-Step Meetings: What to Expect

Thursday, June 15, 2017 | By Chris Clancy

If you’ve just completed a treatment program and are looking to get connected to people in recovery or if you’d like to stop drinking or using drugs and are looking for some support, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can be great resources. Alcoholics Anonymous was the first 12-step program, helping hundreds of thousands of suffering alcoholics since its inception in 1936. AA has also inspired a range of other fellowships that focus on recovery from addiction to narcotics, gambling, love and sex, cocaine, overeating, methamphetamine and emotional codependency. AA was founded on the principle that only those with substance use disorders and other addictions can truly understand what the suffering addict is facing. The peer support model is incredibly powerful. It gives those suffering from an addiction an outlet to express their journey with other people who share their path and can offer experience, strength, and hope in a way that medical professionals and mental health practitioners cannot.

Principles of 12-Step Meetings

Going to your first 12-step meeting can inspire many emotions: excitement, fear, relief, worry. No matter how you are feeling, you can expect to find a group of welcoming, supportive individuals who are eager to meet you. One of the foundational premises of AA and NA is that newcomers are the heart and soul of the group and help it live up to its primary purpose of helping addicts who are still suffering. Many people have found life-saving fellowship through 12-step recovery and are eager to pass along the support and encouragement that was freely given to them.

Meetings are usually started with a moment of silence followed by the “Serenity Prayer,” which the group will often say aloud and in unison. The words to the prayer are:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

After the prayer, designated members of the group may read certain quotes or pages from the AA or NA literature and then the group’s chairperson may ask if there are any newcomers or visitors from out of town. This is primarily done so that the long-time group members can make a point to introduce themselves to newcomers after the meeting. This can be a great way to introduce yourself to the group, but there is no need to do so if you’re not ready.

Then, the chairperson may briefly go over any group rules or expectations. Each 12-step group is fully autonomous to create its own culture and norms and the chairperson might go over certain aspects of this that are important to how the group functions during and after meetings. For example, many groups discourage “crosstalk,” which is when someone directly responds to or confronts another person in the room while sharing. Although newcomers are not expected to know or follow the expressed group norms, it can be helpful to get to know them as you become more familiar with the group.

Next, the chairperson will open the floor for the open-sharing portion of the meeting, in which group members discuss their personal experiences and challenges. The chair will often introduce a specific recovery topic and share their own experience with it. Afterward, members are invited to share on the topic or any issues they need to discuss. Most people will begin sharing by introducing themselves by first name and identifying themselves as either an alcoholic or addict. For example, most shares will start with an introduction like “I’m Michael, and I’m an alcoholic…”

If you decide to share at your first meeting, you shouldn’t worry about getting anything “right.” There is no right or wrong in recovery. If you want to share about what you’re going through, feel free to do so. If you prefer to listen and get to know people first, that is perfectly fine. As you listen to other shares, you are bound to hear things that hit close to home, and simply knowing that you’re not alone in your challenges can be incredibly beneficial.

After a period of open sharing, usually 45-50 minutes, the chairperson will call the meeting to a close and ask members to join hands and recite the Serenity Prayer or another prayer or affirmation. In many areas of the country, it is traditional to end a meeting with the Lord’s Prayer, but if you are uncomfortable or unfamiliar with this or any other saying in the meeting, there is no expectation that you recite it.

These meetings are first and foremost concerned with developing a fellowship that can aid individuals in the life-sustaining goal of staying sober. As you become more comfortable attending meetings, you can begin to look for the groups where you feel the most comfortable socially, culturally, and emotionally. Members often call these primary meetings their “home groups,” and while you are free to attend any meetings you wish, a home group can be a wonderful source of support, intimate friendship, and accountability as you progress through the journey of recovery.

Bowling Green, KY Resources

Bowling Green AA

Bowling Green NA Meetings


Get the Help You Deserve.

Accepting Same-Day Admission With Additional Pre-Screening


Stay Up To Date

  • I Think I’m Addicted to Prescription Meds – Am I an Addict?

    “It’s been prescribed to me, so it isn’t dangerous.”   This is one of the greatest myths surrounding prescription painkillers. When you think of substance abuse, you probably think of street drugs. But did you know prescription medicatio

  • 5 Stress Relief Tools for Recovering Addicts

    Family problems, traffic jams and looming deadlines. Everybody has experienced stress at some point, but for individuals suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders, stress can be destructive. Stress overload – or an inability

  • common fears of going to rehab

    10 Common Fears of Rehab and How to Overcome Them

    Making the decision to enter a treatment facility to get help with an addiction is certainly not easy. There are many common fears of entering rehab that come up when contemplating this decision. The good news is, you’re not alone in feeling this w

  • parent enabling daughter

    How to Stop Enabling an Addict

    Addiction is a tough disease — both for the person with the problem, as well as their friends and families, who may feel helpless in their ability to keep a loved one out of harm’s way. Though addictions only affect the addict themselves on a phy

  • Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Staying Motivated in Recovery

    Addiction is a deadly disease that can sneak up on you when you least expect it. One minute you think you have your life under control and the next minute you realize you are lying to everyone, including yourself. You have difficulty managing your wo

  • 12-Step Meetings: What to Expect

    If you’ve just completed a treatment program and are looking to get connected to people in recovery or if you’d like to stop drinking or using drugs and are looking for some support, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonym

  • Michaela’s Story: Road to Recovery

    It is estimated more than two-thirds of people that struggle with addiction have experienced some type of childhood trauma. For Michaela S., it was a family tragedy. She was just 9-years-old when she lost her brother in an ATV accident. He was only a

  • Sober Fall Activities Near Bowling Green

    Fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather and head out for some festive family activities. A major contributor in long-term recovery and preventing relapse is steering clear of triggers. The best way to do that is to change you

  • A Guide to 12-Step Meetings

    As part of your continuing care plan, it will be recommended you attend regular 12-step meetings for support and encouragement. Understanding the founding principles and the general meeting guidelines can help ease some fears and anxiety you might be

  • Finding Hope through Family Therapy

    At JourneyPure Bowling Green, we feel very strongly that family involvement throughout one’s addiction treatment is essential for long-term recovery. Organizations including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Health and Hum

  • The Heroin Epidemic in Kentucky

    Known as “The Bluegrass State,” Kentucky is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, is notorious for its bourbon, coal mines and even fried chicken. What it’s lesser known is the devastating effect heroin is having on families. There is a hero

  • songwriting therapy

    Songwriting Therapy Heals Patients in Recovery

    For many, especially those undergoing treatment for addiction and mental health issues, it can be difficult to express feelings verbally. Addiction is rarely the only struggle one’s facing when they enter treatment; it’s often coupled with some t



  • Everyone who works here is very kind and helpful. They really want what is best for you. The housing is super nice and comfortable. I am very pleased with the time I spent here.



  • JourneyPure Bowling Green has changed my life this is the first time I have ever been to a Rehabilitation Center and while it was not at all what I expected, it was exactly what I needed.



  • Great place. I learned much here about my addiction and I feel that I now have the tools to control it. They have great a great staff and the accommodations are top notch.

    Terry F


  • My family member is still sober a year and a half after his treatment stay here.



  • This place was GREAT! I feel like they helped me with much more than I expected.

    Tim M


  • I loved my time here and I learned a lot about my recovery. All the staff were great and really helped me in the areas that I needed help in.

    Caleb H


  • The people here are very nice and will do whatever it takes to help you out, they are very helpful, its a great place to start off your sobriety



  • I have enjoyed my stay and feel very confident in my recovery. Everyone here has been wonderful and very helpful. I would recommend Journey Pure to anyone seeking recovery.