AA NA and GA Fellowships – What to Expect

Alcoholics Anonymous and 12 Step Fellowships

These worldwide Fellowships (which address most forms of substance abuse and behavioural addictions) represent a remarkable, free resource that should be tried and wherever possible embraced by everyone in early recovery from addiction.

The Castle Craig alcohol rehab programme incorporates 12 Step recovery principles first pioneered by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The goal is to achieve a positive, fulfilled sobriety by taking responsibility for change and spiritual growth. Complete abstinence is a requirement. The 12 Steps provide a framework of guidance and action to achieve this goal.

They have also proved a highly effective basis for the treatment of the whole variety of addictions addressed at Castle Craig, which includes narcotic substances, gambling, sex, gaming and relationships. At Castle Craig we introduce patients to the 12 Step fellowship meetings onsite as well as off-site in local towns. This is an important part of our addiction treatment programme.

The Many 12-Step Fellowships

As a leading 12 Step rehab, we have links to all the recognised 12-Step Fellowships and introduce our patients to those most suitable to their particular addiction. These days, just about every type of addiction is served by a 12 Step fellowship specifically adapted to a person’s needs. They are a remarkable resource, freely available worldwide to anyone who has the desire to quit their addiction.

The best-known fellowships include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – AA is the original 12 Step fellowship for those struggling with alcoholism.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – people experiencing addiction to drugs of any kind are welcome to attend NA.
  • Gamblers Anonymous (GA) – Gamblers Anonymous is said to have been conceived by two NA members who realised that they could address their common gambling addiction using similar techniques.
  • Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) – this 12-step fellowship offers support to men and women struggling with addictive sexual and emotional issues, including pornography.
  • Cocaine Anonymous – for those struggling with cocaine addiction.

12 Step Support for Families and Loved Ones

Addiction is known as a ‘family disease’ because it affects in some way, all those close to the struggling addict. Remarkably, the 12 Step pioneers found quite early on that their programme could be successfully adapted to help suffering family members. The result was the emergence of family support groups run on 12 Step principles such as Al-Anon (for families of Alcoholics)  and Families Anonymous (for families affected by drug addiction).

Rehab and After

Time spent at a rehab centre, focussing on therapy and recovery is invaluable, intense, and rewarding, yet it is finite. Recovery, on the other hand, is a lifelong journey. Once you are back home, it’s crucial to sustain the positive practices developed during rehab. Establishing new habits demands persistence, as it is a gradual process.

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How It Works

During your stay at Castle Craig, we will introduce you to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar 12 Step fellowship that is most suitable for your needs. Wherever possible, these meetings will be onsite or off-site. You will also come to an understanding of the methods and principles by which these Fellowships operate, as you work through our recovery programme.

The aim is to help you feel comfortable in these meetings before you experience them in the world outside of rehab. All these Fellowships hold meetings worldwide which are both face-to-face and via Zoom.

The best way of adapting permanently to a new lifestyle is by using the support, example and experience of people who have already done so – that is what a 12 Step Fellowship offers.

When you leave Rehab

People in early sobriety, especially when coming out of rehab, are vulnerable. Their new sobriety feels good, but they still lack the confidence and capability that comes with time and experience. They may have changed their attitudes and behaviours, but those changes can be reversed if new ways do not become strong habits.

Finding a group where you feel you belong and can talk about your hopes and anxieties, is an important factor in keeping your recovery positive. Your introduction to meetings during your stay in residential treatment is designed to make the transition easier.

Attending that first meeting of a local 12 Step group may seem daunting, but it is here that you will find a connection to the support, enthusiasm and experience of like-minded recovering addicts. Addiction isolates those it touches, making them anxious, fearful and desperate. In recovery, the most pressing need for most people is usually reconnection with their community.

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Finding The Right Group

Don’t expect every group to be perfect for your needs. Equally, remember that probably any group is better than no group at all.

Spend some time discovering what is right for you. If you feel most comfortable in a single-sex group, an atheist or agnostic group, or a LGBTQ+ group, then you will be able to find this. As always, the primary purpose is to stay sober. Fellowship members do not lay down rules or judge others.

The more regularly you attend a group, the more connections you will make and the more you will feel you belong.

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Advantages of 12 Step Fellowships

AA sponsorship and community support can serve as healthy counterpoints to alcohol-based friendships and strained family dynamics.

A 12 Step Fellowship group is based on the very simple premise discovered by the founders many years ago: that talking to another struggling addicted person helps you to stay sober, a day at a time. The primary purpose of any fellowship is to stay sober and addiction-free and help others to achieve sobriety. A new member will be encouraged to find a sponsor as soon as possible to guide them through the 12 Step programme.

It has been said that the requirements for a feeling of contentment are a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense of caring for another person and a sense that what you are doing is right. All these can be found at a Fellowship meeting.

The strength of these Fellowships lies in the fact that they are made up of ordinary people. You will not find any ‘leaders’, ‘experts’ or ‘professionals’ telling you what to do. All members are equal and thus are easy to relate to. There are few things as powerful as hearing another person, no different from you, describe how they are responding successfully to the same challenges that you yourself are facing. When you see their happiness and peace of mind, you want it too.

In larger cities, there is more choice, and Zoom meetings widen this choice

Disadvantages of 12-Step Fellowships

The Fellowships are an undoubted force for good and have no ‘secret agendas’. There are, however, a few caveats of which newcomers should be aware:

Firstly, a 12 Step Fellowship is a unique resource with a very simple message and methodology, whereas addiction is a complex disease that often comes with underlying issues such as trauma, depression and anxiety. The 12 Steps were not designed to address any issues other than addiction and its consequences.

Although a person in recovery who has co-existing psychological damage may be helped by the 12 Step programme, they are likely in addition to require expert attention of a different nature, such as provided by a residential rehab. Such people benefit from therapy that is specialised and directive. A Fellowship meeting is a form of therapy, but it is usually a gentle and supportive one; underlying issues may require a more intense and personalised approach.

Secondly, following on from the above, the sheer power of addiction and the relentless pressure of the modern world can make it very difficult for those struggling to achieve sobriety without the complete change of lifestyle that comes with residential rehab.

This in no way detracts from the amazing achievement of the thousands who do find sobriety simply by attending Fellowship meetings in their community; many do the recommended ‘ninety meetings in ninety days, for example. But for others, their job, family commitments or location make this impossible.

Here at Castle Craig, we know how important peer-to-peer support can be throughout the recovery process and actively encourage this in our residential rehab facility in Scotland and also when people return home.

However useful 12 Step Fellowships can be for individuals struggling with addiction, we will recommend the intervention of medical professionals to guide you safely through the psychological and physical aspects of the disease, when we see this to be necessary. We are always ready to discuss the best ways of helping you get the treatment you need.

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