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When you first start going to 12 step meetings, it can feel like a whole new world. There’s new people, new lingo, and all these things you’re supposed to do, but don’t know when or how. Instead of getting frustrated, remember that everyone is different and to proceed at your own pace. Everyone was a newbie at one time, you’ll get it.
But to make sure you keep moving and progressing in your recovery here’s an AA timeline to keep you on track.
The First Meeting
Recovery starts with the first meeting, even if you’re not sober. The only requirement at that first 12 step meeting is to have the desire to be sober.
If you’re half way through a bottle of Gray Goose when you realize that alcohol is making your life unmanageable, then get up and walk to a meeting. Just make sure that your second, third, and fourth meetings are sober or people will start calling you out on your crap.
90 in 90
For those new to recovery or just coming out of inpatient treatment, it’s always recommended to do 90 meetings in 90 days. And while that may seem like a lot, it’s an hour a day, just 90 hours over a three month period, so you can handle it.
There’s AA and other 12 step meetings everywhere, in every small town and city coast to coast. If transportation is an issue and you can’t find a meeting within walking distance, then attend a virtual one, which are also available in abundance.
While many recommend a meeting a day, if you miss one, don’t sweat it. Go to two tomorrow. By the time your 90 in 90 are done, you’ll feel like an AA pro, know much of the 12 step community, and be well into your recovery.
Finding a Sponsor
You don’t need to rush into getting a sponsor, and by no means should you choose someone you’re not comfortable with just because you think you need a sponsor, but within the first few weeks, you should be well on your way to asking someone.
Sponsors help with the transition into recovery, but remember, they’re not your therapist. And sometimes they’re not your friend. They’re your sponsor, and it’s their responsibility to help and guide you, not coddle or enable you.
After picking your sponsor, it’s time to start working your steps, beginning with Step One. While you want to steadily work through the 12 steps, it’s not a race to the finish line and it’s not uncommon for it to take more than a year to work through them.
Let your sponsor set the pace as step work is the path to recovery, and brings you the healing, serenity, and freedom you seek in sobriety.
In AA, milestones are a big deal, so celebrate them, starting with one day then one week. Other newbie 12 step milestones are 30, 60, and 90 days, followed by 6 months and one year. At the 30 day mark and beyond, make sure to hit a meeting, as you’ll start getting keychains and coins, which are priceless to those in recovery and remind you of the progress you’ve made.