Why Commitments at 12-Step Meetings Are Important

people at a 12 step meeting
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If you’re moving into recovery, then chances are, you’ll be attending a 12-step program. In fact, 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are present in more than 70% of all rehab options in the United States. That’s often because they offer ongoing support and options as you step outside of rehab and back into your life, which means you can continue going to meetings, supporting your peers, and getting support as you work towards long-term recovery. That support and social accountability can help you to stay clean and sober, and the more you commit to that treatment and social group, the stronger the effect will be.

Commitments are one part of that process, where you invest more and more in your group and in your recovery. That often starts with simple attendance, finding a sponsor and working with them, speaking up at meetings, and then committing to tasks and work inside of the group. That will give you a process where you can learn to be the person you want to be and to invest in that.

What are Commitments?

12-Step Commitments cover a lot of different things inside of your group. For example, commitments start out with simply showing up. For many people, the first commitments are showing reliability to the group. You’ll have to do that before you can take on other responsibilities. That normally means:

  • Showing up every week
  • Taking part in sharing weekly
  • Getting to know people and being accepted by a sponsor

Once you have those first steps out of the way, you’ll be considered a full member of the group – which means you can start to make commitments in other ways. That normally means taking small commitments to do things like coffee, setting up the meeting, and cleaning up after meetings. Those small commitments mean you’ll contribute to the group with your physical presence and will show that you are reliable. From there, you can take on commitments to:

  • Ask for service commitments
  • Answer the phone
  • Making calls and helping people stay sober
  • Becoming a sponsor
  • Being a sober buddy
  • Planning meetings
  • Taking charge of literature

Commitments can mean folding chairs and sweeping the floor. They can also mean handing out literature, picking passages to be read, reading those passages, calling people, or being a sober buddy. Commitments can mean you hand your phone number to your peers and they call you when they are experiencing cravings. Whatever your commitments are, your group will most likely help you to scale those responsibilities to what you can handle at the time. E.g., you won’t be taking on responsibilities as a sober buddy until you’ve been sober for 6+ months.

Instead, you’ll work with the group to find commitments and a role that work for where you are right now, so you can contribute no matter where you are in your recovery.

men and women at a 12 step meeting

Why Are Commitments Important to Recovery?

Commitments are a normal part of recovery in a 12-step group. They are part of the process of contributing and investing in your 12-step group and showing social accountability, showing up, and working to be the person you want to be. They ensure you’re not just attending the group but also part of it. And, they give you an avenue to feel like you’re giving back. All of that can be an extremely important part of recovery and motivation to recover.

Feeling Like Part of the Group Getting started with 12-step can be a big step for anyone. That’s more true for people with a history of addiction who have often broken their social bonds, feel alienated from society, and don’t know how to form meaningful connections. Contributing to a group can help you to feel like you’re more part of it, it can break the ice, and it can help you feel like you belong. For that reason, even relative newcomers are welcome to help with small commitments like sweeping the floor and folding chairs, because it will help you to feel like part of the group.

Learning About Yourself – Making commitments at 12-step meetings is a great way to learn about yourself, what you can do, how you can contribute, how you can manage energy, and what you like to do. It can also help you figure out how you feel actually investing in your community so you can figure out what drives you. As you move further into recovery, working as a sober buddy, sponsor, and reaching out to help people manage cravings will also help you learn more about yourself. Working with other people and helping them through their problems can help you to better understand your own cravings, your own experiences, and your own coping mechanisms. That will, in turn, mean you can learn new ways to manage and understand yourself, while helping other people.

Feeling Valued – Feeling like a valued member of your community is important for your self-esteem and your recovery. However, the only want to feel valued is to add value. That often means you’ll have to participate in your community and actively give back to them before you will feel like a valued member of that group. In some cases, that can mean simply taking part in conversations and actively participating in sharing. In others, the more you take on Commitments, the more you’ll see your actions making n active contribution to everyone. That can help you to easily understand how you’re part of the group, that you do add to it, and that you are valued. Of course, there’s a line because you don’t want to feel like you can only add value by offering service. However, by taking steps to contribute to the community, you can stop questioning your part in the community and instead feel valued and like part of the group.

Staying Accountable – Accountability is a powerful motivator for recovery. Actively taking on commitments and holding yourself accountable to do things like making coffee, sweeping floors, calling people, being available to do work for the group, etc., will increase that accountability. For example, if you know that people are relying on you to show up clean and sober, to be prepared to run a meeting, and to put in the work to contribute in other ways, you have a lot more motivation to not drink or slip up. E.g., you can go “I can’t do this because I have to call 30 people tomorrow to ask them about their sobriety, I can’t do that if I’ve just relapsed”. That doesn’t sound like the most motivating thing, but it is surprisingly helpful at keeping people on track, because you have people relying on you.

Getting Started

Making commitments is an important part of recovery in 12 step. At the same time, it’s not something you should jump into immediately. Instead, you should gauge your time, your capabilities, and what you’re ready for. Start small, see how things go, and scale up from there. If you give too much, you won’t have time for your own recovery and investing in things you need for yourself. You also don’t want to try doing things you’re not ready for. E.g., talking to people with cravings while you’re still dealing with them yourself can result in you experiencing cravings.

Eventually, giving back to your community and actively taking part in your community will help you to be more accountable, more invested, and to feel better about your group. That will help you to stay in recovery and to get the most from your 12-step group.

Stairway Recovery Homes has multiple sober living homes located in Los Angeles, CA. We provide community-based recovery homes for both men’s sober living and women’s sober living. After leaving outpatient addiction treatment, a sober living environment is a good choice for extra support in staying sober.

About Jim Sugel

SEO and Digital Marketing Expert Jim Sugel is an SEO and Digital Marketing Expert in addition to having achieved the coveted Google Partner status for PPC expertise. Prior to focusing on Digital Marketing, Jim worked in Information Technology roles at a variety of national firms as a software engineer and consultant, resulting in many years of professional coding and consulting experience. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science, cum laude in Computer Science and Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. After relocating to Southern California from his native Chicago, he became involved in the recovery industry here, discovering a natural niche in helping treatment centers with Digital Marketing and other technology projects. Jim is the Founder and CEO of Airtight Digital, a firm that specializes in digital marketing for the behavioral health industry. His other interests include hiking, canyoneering, urban exploration, and screenwriting. Jim now lives in beautiful and sunny Orange County, California.