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You can find many different kinds of help for a drinking or drug problem. Availability of kinds of help and helping agencies vary from area to area.
Twelve-step self-help programs focus on members sharing with others members their experience, strength, and hope in terms of recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction, or for family members and friends, their experience of learning to live and cope with an addict or alcoholic, irrespective of whether or not they recover. Newcomers are encouraged to make contact with someone before attending a first meeting so you can ask questions before and after you go. Many meetings have a newcomers group as part of one of their regular weekly meetings. Newcomers are also encouraged to attend the meetings for awhile to learn what they are about and to attend different groups as they all have their own "personality."
There are many different types of 12-step meetings including Closed Meetings - only alcoholics or addicts may attend; Open Meetings - anyone can attend; Discussion Meetings - any topic pertaining to alcoholism/addiction or recovery from alcoholism/addiction can be discussed; Speaker Meetings - one or several speakers tell their stories of alcoholism/addiction and recovery; and Study Group Meetings including Step Meetings where one or more of the 12 steps are studied and discussed, usually one step a week, and meetings where in AA the "Big Book" text or in NA the basic NA text is studied or other approved literature produced by the world service office of each self-help group.
Once someone has gone to a few meetings and has picked a group he or she is comfortable with, known as a "home group," then a "sponsor" may be chosen. The purpose of a sponsor is to have someone who can personally guide another in recovery through sharing their experience, strength, and hope -- to offer support. There are no rules or guidelines on how to choose a sponsor but new members are encouraged to choose someone who they admire for their success in recovery, who has been able to stay sober for a few years, and who is the same gender.
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