Different Recovery Groups Meet Different Needs

Recovery group therapy meetingJust as different restaurants cater to different dining needs (i.e. casual, formal, takeout), different recovery groups meet different needs. I recently had someone tell me about the “different types” of AA meetings that he attends. Now this individual didn’t describe the AA meetings in terms of the different AA meeting formats (open meetings, closed meetings, speaker meetings, step-study meetings, etc.). This individual referenced how “different meetings” met his different needs throughout his recovery journey.

For example, one meeting seemed to provide more knowledge, information and facts about recovery and another meeting provided a more social connection. It was the combination of these “different types” that was contributing to his success in recovery.

Which leads to an important point to remember when attending recovery support meetings, different groups may meet different needs for you. I think that is something people often fail to take into consideration when attending recovery meetings. It is easy to make the assumption that each group should meet all of your needs. Then when those needs aren’t met, it is easy to dismiss them and miss the value provided and stop attending all-together.

Consider the following suggestions when attending meetings to help properly align your needs with the group format.

Understand the various group formats and purposes.

Open Meeting

An Open Meeting is open to anyone that is interested in the program (even non-addicted individuals can attend) and a topic of recovery will be chosen to discuss.

Closed Meeting

Closed Meetings are reserved for recovery individuals only (non-addicted individuals are not allowed to attend) and a topic of recovery will be chosen to discuss.

Step Study Meeting

During a Step Study Meeting there will be reading and discussion on how the steps can be utilized to stay sober.

Speaker Meeting

A speaker meeting is different than a step-study meeting. During a speaker meeting you will hear someone from the program share their journey through addiction and into recovery.

Understand the role you may play.

Maybe in one group you have more of a leadership type role and act as a guide for others. In another group, you serve in a passive role through listening, learning and getting more support yourself.

Know your personal comfort level.

Recovery group speaker addressing the roomBased on location, time, etc., some meetings may only consist of only a handful of people and some meetings may fill an entire room. Based on your personality, it may be easier to get to know others a bit more in a smaller meeting. Gender can also impact comfort level. Consider same sex meetings if that is a concern for you.

Identify what you need.

If you need more understanding about the program, attend more Big Book Study or Step Study meetings. If you need to find a sponsor, consider attending a smaller meeting where it easier to get to know others. If you need some encouragement about recovery, consider a speaker meeting.

Having an understanding that not one recovery meeting will meet all of your needs is important to remember. The best way to get those various needs met is through a combination of different meetings. Finding the best fit and combination will take time. Remember recovery is a journey not a destination.


Levin Neuman, LMSW, CAADCKevin Neuman, LMSW, CAADC is a fully Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) with over 15 years experience in the social work field. He received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and his Master in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. He has completed training as an acupuncture detoxification specialist.

Before coming to Pine Rest Retreat Center, Kevin worked at Ottagan Addictions Recovery as an outpatient substance abuse therapist. He has also worked at Hope Network Behavioral Health in the inpatient residential crisis setting and at Priority Health as a behavioral health case manager.

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