3 Personal Safety Tips for Newcomers to Recovery Meetings
If you've considered going to an addiction recovery meeting as a newcomer and changed your mind because you're afraid of who might be there, you're not alone. I'm often asked, "What kind of people come to recovery meetings? Do you feel safe there?" and so on. Mainly these questions are posed to me by people who have never seen skid-row -- let alone mixed in with the "wrong crowd" or got caught up in a bar fight. Because of the stigma associated with addicts, I understand why outsiders may assume that everyone in recovery meetings are seedy, untrustworthy, and dangerous people, but most people are not like that. These personal safety tips for newcomers to recovery meetings may make you feel more safe.
I've often heard it said that, "Some are sicker than others." It means that some people in recovery are still caught up in their old addict behavior, but also indicates that they are the exceptions to the norm.
Five years after I attended my first recovery meeting, I still exercise caution when meeting new people in recovery. No matter what addiction recovery program you try, I have a few tips to put your mind at ease when walking into the room.
For Newcomers to Recovery Meetings -- Personal Safety Tips
Safety Tip #1 -- Stick to a Familiar Area When Selecting Recovery Meetings
You may say, "but wait -- what if I see someone I know?" Remember they're at the recovery meeting for the same reason you are, and if you want to keep your recovery a secret, chances are pretty good that they will understand. So don't select a meeting off the beaten path just so you can try to avoid running into people you might know at recovery meetings. Save those excursions for days when you're going with a friend.
Safety Tip #2 -- Avoid Corners and Choose a Seat In the Middle of Recovery Meetings
Depending on the recovery meeting, you may encounter people under the influence regularly, periodically, or exceedingly rarely. And because you never know when they're going to show up, do not back yourself into a corner like I did once.
The one and only time I ever felt that my personal safety was threatened was after a recovery meeting. As I stood behind the coffee bar, a man walked up and intentionally blocked my only exit. Other men and women in the room saw him harassing me for my phone number and intervened. They distracted him long enough for me to skirt around him and get out of the building. He was clearly under the influence of something, and I have not seen him since.
Safety Tip #3 -- Recovery Meeting Newcomers Should Connect with Members
On my way to rehab, a family member warned me, "Now Becky, don't go exchanging phone numbers with these alcoholics and drug addicts." Her intentions were good, but self-help groups work best when you have someone you can talk and relate to, which is why so many groups emphasize the importance of exchanging phone numbers (Social Connections are Critical in Addiction Recovery).
When you're new to the sober community, giving out your phone number to strangers may seem unwise or intimidating. You don't have to give your number out if it makes you uncomfortable. If asked, you can simply say, "I'm not ready to give out my number yet, but I'd love to take down yours if you don't mind."
If you're not sure who to talk to at a recovery meeting, try asking the person running the meeting. Consider the fact that other members trust this person to run the meeting. If they can trust someone, then you can probably trust their guidance.
Above all, the best way to figure out who to talk to (and whom to avoid) is to listen when others speak. Notice how they talk about their addiction and recovery -- can you relate to them? How do they speak of their life now? Did they only talk about negative experiences or did they explain how they solve problems? You can learn a lot about a person by how they talk in recovery meetings.
The bottom line is, people enter recovery meetings from all walks of life. Don't assume that we're all bad people just because we have an addiction. After all, the people in recovery meetings are the ones trying to do something about it.
Doyle, B. (2015, January 29). 3 Personal Safety Tips for Newcomers to Recovery Meetings, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, March 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2015/01/personal-safety-tips-for-newcomers-to-recovery-meetings