Meetings, a Skeptic’s Perspective
Meetings, A Skeptic’s Perspective
Recovery can be daunting enough without trying to figure out what resources are available to you. Assuming you are like me and didn’t want to go with an inpatient system the well known AA and the lesser known Smart Recovery.org are available in my area (Northern VA)
I’ve been going to both.
Going to meetings. For years I sort of scoffed at AA, I knew I had an alcohol problem but I didn’t want to go to a meeting. My only exposure to AA had been through TV and movies. I didn’t see where going to someplace where a bunch of people were talking about how alcohol ruined their lives or about how they found God and recovered or about the various twelve steps to recovery would help me. My ex sub convinced me to go to three meetings on the weekend after we broke up and I’m glad she did and that I followed through. There is a certain camaraderie in an AA meeting. The people are friendly and welcoming even if you have only been sober for a few days.
Nobody is pushing religion, or the AA books at you, they are mainly just interested in trying to help you recover.That’s not to say that there isn’t a certain cult like aspect to AA, there is. Still it’s a program that works for millions and has certainly helped me. I find it a helpful tool in my recovery toolbox.
AA focuses on alcohol as an addiction that you are powerless against without the help of a higher power and the meetings. I went to my first meetings hoping to get tools to help me manage cravings and to help me get past my addiction. AA doesn’t focus on tools but on surrendering to your higher power (not necessarily God), accepting that you have a problem that you alone can’t solve, and that you have a disease that can’t be cured. People tell their stories and I find that at every meeting I attend I get something out of it.
There are various types of AA meetings, Speaker, Big Book, Twelve Step, and discussion. There are also two distinctions that are good to know, some meetings are open, some are closed. Open meetings are open to alcoholics and their families or friends, closed meetings are for alcoholics only. Even in discussion meetings open discussion/cross talk is not allowed. Each person gets the chance to say their piece on the topic provided by the meeting lede and you move on.
Another tool in my toolbox is SmartRecovery.org. Smart Recovery is based on more modern psychological principles and has a variety of tools in its tool box to help with recovery. SMART uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) to help people overcome addictions to anything from meth to sex.
It’s a fairly small program, especially when compared to AA. While there may not be a physical presence in your town, or even in your state or country there is a robust online presence. Their website is easy to sign up for and completely anonymous. They have message boards and online meetings that you can attend. Personally I prefer to attend meetings in person.
Smart recovery meetings are focused on discussion of a person’s problems and about the tools that they can use to get past their addiction and move on to a maintenance phase of recovery. The group helps each other and the group facilitator points out Smart Recovery tools or premises that might be applicable to the problems being discussed. Smart Recovery focuses on all forms of addiction and anybody with a problem be it exercise or eating or meth is welcome to attend any meeting.
If you are struggling with addiction and want to get help for yourself I strongly recommend going to a meeting. This is coming from the ultimate skeptic.
Because of the pandemic most meetings are online. For Smart Recovery meetings you can go to smartrecovery.org and find zoom meetings in your area and abroad. AA meetings are starting to go back to in person, there are directories for meetings in your area through AA.org