One thing you will hear regarding 12 Step recovery is the suggestion that you should join a home group. You’ll notice that when you attend a 12 Step meeting the meeting has a name. That is the name of the group. Some groups are service meetings which people attend but do not join. Many of these are organized by the Area Committee with volunteers running them. The first ¾ of my first year of recovery I had the pleasure to run a service group twice a week. I found this helped immensely in my recovery, particularly 12 Step work. The groups you can join are called home groups. When I share at a meeting I always start by saying, I’m an alcoholic/addict, member of “place group name here” and my name is Dave. There’s a reason for that. I don’t ever want to forget that I’m an addict as that is the reason I’m in the Fellowship. It’s a “we” program so my home group comes before me and lastly I let people know who I am. Some people will say their last name, some won’t. In CA, if one has gone through all 12 Steps, they place “recovered” before alcoholic/addict.
But I digress. Getting a home group is very important. Prior to joining Alcoholics Anonymous I was terrible at making commitments. By joining a home group I have made a commitment to the other members to show up to that meeting and to be a part of that group. Another great thing about a home group is it becomes your second (sometimes first) family. You get to know people in the group and you expand your support network. Most groups will present a new member with a list of all group members, including phone numbers. This is a great tool to use when you can’t get hold of your sponsor in time of crisis.
My first Alcoholics Anonymous home group was called the Faith Group. I chose the group for three reasons. First it was within walking distance of my house so I couldn’t rationalize not going due to weather conditions. Second, it was on a Saturday night. Even though I drank and used every day, in my twisted, addicted, mind, I still thought of Saturday as the night to party. By committing to a Saturday evening group I always had something to do, at least for a couple hours, those nights. The third reason I joined the group was because I liked the energy of the group and people within it. Some of the first people who welcomed me into the AA Fellowship were members there so I felt right at home.
I stayed with that group for approximately two years. As I became more confident in my recovery I started to get my life back together. I started to do healthy things on Saturdays balancing my life between work, family, socializing and recovery. Plus I got resentment (there’s an official 12 Step maxim: All you need to start a new group is a resentment and a coffee pot). So I left that group and joined what would become my home group for the next nine years – The Garrard Road Group. It was, and still is, a large group and the energy is great. The group has an open speaker meeting on Sundays with a closed discussion on Wednesdays (a service group it took over that was going to go under). Just before my 11th year of sobriety I ended up with a couple of new jobs. One of those was on a Sunday so I would be missing this group. As a result of knowing I would no longer be able to attend I decided to join a new group.
Last night I joined The Courtice 12X12 Group. I’ve been to this group on and off within my 11 years of recovery and have enjoyed it immensely. Until about a year ago I hadn’t been to it in a long time but I started going to more meetings with a new sponsee and one of those was the 12X12 Group. The group has a great energy that I can really grasp on to. So it was a no brainer joining it. I’m look forward to getting to know the members that I don’t know and getting closer to the one’s I do know.
One the best experiences I’ve had in recovery was starting up a new group with a couple of like-minded buddies. I and two others started the first Cocaine Anonymous meeting in the Durham Region of Ontario, Canada (at present there are three). The group was called The Vision Group (it’s still around today). We started off in the kitchen of a book store. After a few months we had saved enough from our 7th Tradition collections to pay rent to a church and so we moved locations. It was a Big Book discussion group and there was great recovery/spirituality taking place. Despite the spirituality of the group I ended getting a resentment and leaving. There are no original members at the group but it is still thriving.
All these groups that I’ve talked about (and many other good ones) are located in Durham Region, Ontario Canada. If you’re ever in the area come visit us – we’d love to have you. Just look us up on the Internet or call the local Integroup. Hope to cross paths as we trudge the road of Happy Destiny.