During my first six months I went to three different fellowships (12 Step Programmes), here’s my experience…

I’d heard of people talking in meetings about how they were also in other fellowships. Alcohol isn’t my only issue and so I visited multiple fellowships in early sobriety, something that was made easier with meetings moving to Zoom during the pandemic.

There are some positives to going to different programmes, I personally found it helpful to see identification from other people around other issues and addictions that I had. However my personal experience is doing this as a newcomer had more negatives than positives so I decided to concentrate on AA as my primary fellowship. Here’s some things I learned:

Being in multiple fellowships is hard as a newcomer as it’s a lot to take in. Different meetings, different people, different readings. All of this was too much for me in early sobriety. I also found myself feeling disconnected from the other fellowships as most people I knew and confided in were in AA. It felt like I was trying to do too much too soon.

I felt like an outsider in other fellowships, while I was doing a meeting a day for AA, I was only doing a meeting a week in other programmes, when you’re doing a meeting a week it’s difficult to feel connected to a group or meeting.

That being said, I found it incredibly helpful to see that most groups used ‘The Big Book’ as their foundation and using similar steps, so having a familiar framework was reassuring to see. The meeting formats were all pretty much the same as well so it’s easy to go to a meeting and understand what’s going on. However ultimately being around a programme and going to meetings and actively being ‘in’ a programme are wildly different things. I was in the middle of my steps in AA and didn’t want to distract myself, so I decided to stick with that as my focus, it made sense as alcohol was central to most of my other compulsive behaviours and addicitions.

I’m looking forward to being in other fellowships further on in my recovery, I know many people who speak very highly of being “double winners” with recovery. With the core reading, steps and spiritual solution being the same, it’s something I know will benefit me with other issues I have (there are many), however my personal experience has been that focussing on a single fellowship in early sobriety was a better solution for me.

Focussing on one fellowship allowed me to find home groups, find a group of fellows I was able to see and speak to regularly, I was able to truly become part of a recovery community, work the steps and programme and make meaningful progress.

/ J