Newcomers to the programme are often asked if they’re doing “90 in 90”, which is 90 meetings in 90 days. It’s not easy, but can be a great way to meet new people, get used to meetings themselves, find a routine and ultimately help solidify your early recovery. Here’s my experience…
When a close friend told me of their experience in the rooms, I asked lots of questions. I’d Google’d AA before but never had the conviction to actually get myself to a meeting. One of the questions I asked was how often he went. In my mind I’d imagined AA as a weekly thing, so when he turned to me and said he was going three to four times a week, I balked. I was even more taken aback when he said people sometimes attend multiple meetings a day. To a newcomer this was a lot to take in. It’s funny how things can change so quickly and drastically, at this point in my recovery this is my new normal. I attend a meeting a day thanks to Zoom and on days when I feel the world is collapsing I’ve attended multiple meetings just to help me get through the madness.
In my first few weeks I’d been doing around three or four meetings a week before work. Even that was quite tough at times given everything else going on in life. The thought of doing a meeting a day for three months seemed like a stretch. I started tracking my meeting attendance using a mobile app to help see my progress with each meeting I attended, but didn’t initially set out to do the full 90 in 90.
As I met more people, I spoke to fellows who had completed it and who spoke very highly of the experience. It was a big time commitment and required a lot of dedication. Some of those I spoke to were only able to complete it without having daily commitments or a full-time job. I had a demanding job at the time and also family to look after, I was also nervous about finding new meetings each day, so the 90 in 90 didn’t seem achievable.
A few weeks in, after I’d become more comfortable with recovery, I decided I wanted I was going to go for it. I was already behind the daily target of a meeting a day and knew I’d have to start doubling up my meetings on certain days to make sure I finished. It would be tough but in my mind I twisted this into challenge of sorts rather than seeing it as a burden, this helped to give me the drive to continue each day.
I found a room in central London that had a daily meeting at 7.30am. It was a relatively short walk to work and I found the energy, vibe and fellows inside all fairly easy-going. I also liked the idea of seeing regular faces in my early days. I was still fairly quiet in meetings and sat to myself at the back of the room, but just seeing regular faces and getting to know a room was comforting in itself. I slowly began to feel like I belonged. Alongside home groups which I was attending on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays, I now had a meeting every day which I knew and felt comfortable with. This didn’t include Sundays which I spent with family. I had a daily schedule for most of the week, but I would need to start including extra meetings to help get myself back to the point where I was averaging a meeting a day.
At this point I discovered one of the rooms also had a 6am meeting in addition to the 7.30. So two or three times a week I’d leave the house before 5am, get the bus into central London and make the earlier meeting. I’d then stay in the room for half an hour, grab a coffee and stay for the 7.30am meeting. This allowed me do two meetings before work a few times a week and helped me make some numbers up. It was great for my programme, but terrible for my sleep.
I was still behind target when lockdown came into effect. However (as I outline here) Zoom meetings were quick to take off, so once meetings moved online I was able to ensure I was making at least one meeting a day, and it was fairly easy to include extra meetings in order to make the full 90. I say fairly easily, it was still a long, hard three months, but I’m glad I did it.
So what did I get out of it? Was it worth the time, effort and early mornings? The 90 in 90 really puts you in a more positive frame of mind which I important during those early days. Feeling invested in my recovery and knowing I was pursuing a goal because I wanted to pursue sobriety was big in terms of mindset for me. It was also hugely helpful as it gets you feeling more comfortable visiting new rooms and meetings, it gets you used to meeting new fellows constantly, gives you more opportunities to share and ultimately gives you a really solid foundation for your recovery. It also gives you more exposure to the programme materials, literature and concepts and you get to experience different meeting formats all of which are hugely important.
One thing I would mention which I didn’t know at the time, is that you don’t actually have to start the 90 in 90 from your first day, you can do it at any point in your recovery. So don’t be put off if you’re reading this in your early days and are slightly behind in your meetings. Get comfortable and feel free to take this on when you’re ready. I kept track of things using a mini diary, writing a few notes each day on the meetings and how I was feeling which really helped. I may even write some of those up soon and publish them here as those early days were a rollercoaster in more ways than one.
I’d recommend the 90 in 90 to anyone who’s in early recovery. It’s not easy, and can become difficult if you have work or family commitments, but it’s easier now with online meetings being more readily available and certainly worth the effort in so many ways.