Some people collect stamps. I collect reasons for not going to 12-step meetings:
I’m too busy.
I don’t have a car.
I don’t have a license to drive my car.
Gas is too expensive.
I hate cigarette smoke.
I can’t smoke at meetings.
I don’t have childcare.
I won’t know anyone.
I might know someone.
I hear that it’s really a cult.
I’d have to drive too far.
All they talk about is drinking.
They sell drugs at the meetings.
The meetings are too depressing.
The people at meetings are too happy.
I get my recovery at your church.
Meetings are too far away.
Meetings are too close and I’ll know people there.
My probation officer won’t let me go because of my curfew.
Going to meetings makes me want to drink or use drugs.
I have social phobia and don’t feel comfortable in groups.
I don’t need to hear a bunch of other people’s problems.
I don’t want to tell a bunch of strangers my personal business.
The only time I ever think about drugs or alcohol is when I’m at a meeting.
The people there are a bunch of fakes, lying about being clean/sober.
The last time I went, the men wanted to hook up with me sexually.
The last time I went, the women wanted to hook up with me sexually.
I got into recovery to have a life, and going to meetings just interferes with that.
And…my all-time favorite: I don’t want to get addicted to meetings. I just love that excuse…you may be snorting dangerous pills, alienated your friends and family, be nearing financial ruin, but none of that bothers you as much as the possibility you may get addicted to going to recovery meetings.
I’m not unreasonable. I know some of these excuses have some merit, like lack of childcare. But I also know there’s usually a way to overcome these barriers. People in active addiction often overcome great challenges to continue to getting their drugs. They create clever and imaginative solutions. Similarly, people can get to meetings if they want to do so.
I’d rather hear real reasons for not going: it’s scary and humiliating to admit you are addicted. It takes tremendous courage to walk into a 12-step recovery meeting for the first time, and it takes courage to continue to go to meetings. Meetings aren’t always pleasant or convenient.
But this form of recovery has worked for millions of people in a few hundred countries. It’s been around for seventy-seven years. What other drug addiction recovery programs have been in existence for that long? Twelve- step recovery isn’t a flash in the pan, and it has multiple clinical studies to show that it works. And it’s the best deal in town, since it’s free. So even though it can be intimidating to start going to meetings, the benefits are worth the effort.
Is it possible to recover without going to 12-step meetings? I believe so, yes. But I think it’s harder and takes more time and energy. I imagine the difference to be like hacking your way through a dense forest rather than taking a wide and well-worn path through the forest.
Twelve step programs aren’t the only recovery option and may not work for everyone, but please don’t tell me it doesn’t work for you until you’ve tried it.