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Are You Afraid of 12 Step Programs? This Might Help You

Are you afraid of 12 Step programs? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Many people are overwhelmed by fear and anxiety about going to 12 Step meetings when they first start out in recovery. The prospect of participating in such a program can be daunting for various reasons. Here are two of the most common reasons people dread going to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and some information that may help you if dread it, too.


The Unknown is Always Uncomfortable

The unknown is always uncomfortable. It’s the first day of school, or being the new kid in class… We simply don’t know the territory until we really get there. And, it seems that there are a lot of rules and procedures. That all amounts to anxiety about doing something wrong and sticking out like a sore thumb. However, everyone is new to these programs when they first start out, and everything seems as mysterious to them as it does to you. 12 Step members (and the organizations) recognize this. Consequently, there is literature available at meetings or online to orient you. For example, you might read about the programs on their websites aa.org or na.org. Follow the links to more detailed information. Also, the meetings themselves are run to understand there are likely to be newcomers present. Just take a seat and follow along. If by chance someone asks you to read one of the regular pieces read in meetings, you can just say that you’ll pass if you don’t want to. Other than that, simply listen.

What about God?

Many people have heard that the 12 Step programs emphasize a belief in God and fear being harassed to believe in God, too. This is a common fear that hampers many who could benefit from 12 Step programs. It is true that the programs reference God and a ‘higher power’. However, many who have no belief in God find these programs helpful. There has also been a great deal written about these issues and I encourage you to do some research. You can find many discussions of it online. For example, you might search for information about ‘atheism and the 12 Steps’ or ‘agnosticism and the 12 Steps’. These searches will yield you information about how people who do not believe in God (atheists) and people who claim neither faith nor disbelief in God (agnostics) make good use of 12 Step programs.

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