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How to Make the Most Out of 12-Step Meetings

You have made your first 12-Step meeting. But now what? It's easy to fall into the trap of "loitering with the intent to recover." Here are five actions you can take to ensure you get the most out of your 12-Step experience.

Join the 20/20 Club
Get to the meeting 20 minutes early and stay 20 minutes late. Getting to the meeting early gives you a chance to meet other people and help set the meeting up. Stay late to speak with someone you identified with and/or help break the meeting down. If you feel awkward at first, you can rest assured that few, if any, people who attended their first 12-Step meeting felt comfortable interacting with others in the beginning. This is the slow, but invaluable process of establishing connections and developing intimacy with others.

Get a Service Commitment
After you have attended meetings for a while, it's time for you to take a service commitment. During the business meeting, when elections are announced (usually every three months), volunteer yourself to be a trusted servant. Start out with something relatively easy like the secretary or the literature person. Each week you will be responsible for attending the meeting and fulfilling your duties. Doing service is a great way to ensure you make the same meeting each week, helping you develop bonds with others. If doing service sounds a bit inconvenient, well, it is. Recovery affords you freedom from sex addiction, though--a more than equitable trade-off.

Work the Steps
They don't call them 12-Step meetings for nothing. The 12-Step process allows you to develop a personal spiritual practice that offers unlimited benefits. You could stay sober by attending meetings alone, but you will be missing out one of the most crucial keys to long-term sobriety, not to mention peace of mind! But the process cannot be done alone. It requires the guidance of a sponsor, which leads to our next suggestion.

Get a Sponsor
A sponsor is someone with more sexual sobriety than you and more experience working the steps. Listen closely in meetings to what people have to share. Do you identify with someone more strongly than others? Do you feel more comfortable around a certain person? Ask that person if he or she will sponsor you. If you are not sure about asking someone, you can always ask the person to be your interim sponsor. The sponsor/sponsee relationship, as well as relationships with other sex addicts in recovery, forms the foundation of intimacy with others.

Practice Acceptance
12-Step meeting will feature personalities of all kinds. The important thing to remember is that you are all there for the same reason: you have a desire to stop acting out sexually. Listening to other people share is an opportunity for you to deepen your understanding of the feelings that drive your compulsive sexual behaviors. If you notice yourself judging another person for some reason, practice acceptance instead. Over time, by practicing acceptance of others, it becomes easier to accept yourself, even like yourself!

And sexually acting out seems much less appealing when you actually like yourself.

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