If you are an alcoholic or addict and decide to try AA or NA, it’s essential to have some understanding of the importance of meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step programs are groups of people who want to stop drinking or using, and most importantly, they want to help each other. Because these programs could not exist without a community of people supporting each other, the importance of meetings cannot be understated. The only official requirement of AA is the desire to stop drinking (in this article I’ll refer to AA only for simplicity, but please feel free to substitute NA or other 12-step program). There are many recommendations, however, that are suggested because of the success people have had with them. One common recommendation for the newcomer to AA is to attend “90 in 90,” or 90 meetings in 90 days.
Why Go to 90 in 90?
The first few days and weeks after quitting alcohol or drugs are usually the hardest, and it’s when newcomers are most likely to relapse. It’s also when newcomers are the most confused and overwhelmed by recovery. The importance of meetings in the first few weeks of recovery is to help newcomers get acquainted with AA and the 12 steps, and to help lay the groundwork for a strong foundation in recovery. One meeting per day for the first three months of sobriety helps the newcomer stay focused on their recovery and committed to it, especially when they’re unsure what to do with free time that’s no longer devoted to drinking or using. Accomplishing 90 in 90 helps the newcomer gain confidence in themselves. It also gives them plenty of opportunity to socialize and begin building a strong new support network. That support is so important in the difficult first few months of recovery. Chemically, it can take three or more months for the brain to normalize itself after quitting alcohol or drugs. The suggestion of 90 in 90 also speaks to the fact that many newcomers aren’t in their “right minds” yet and therefore may need extra support until they begin thinking more clearly. Most importantly, 90 in 90 has helped many newcomers stay sober, so it’s recommended because it works.
Why Continue Going to Meetings?
After a newcomer has made it through those difficult first three months, the importance of meetings doesn’t stop there. Going to meetings on a regular basis (perhaps not every day, but preferably weekly or as often as a person can), helps AA members stay strong and committed to their recovery. It helps members maintain a network of support within the rooms of AA, and it allows them to continue to grow and learn from the “experiences, strength, and hope” of others. Recovery is a lifelong process. Many people find that AA gives them stability and helps keep them sober, especially when life gets particularly stressful. Meetings keep them connected to their recovery, so that they stay grateful for their sober lifestyles and on the right path. Going to AA on a long-term basis also gives members the opportunity to help and support newcomers who are in the positions they used to be in, and helping others stay sober is one of the best ways to stay sober yourself.