14 thoughts on “Why Do Recovering Addicts Stop Going To Meetings?

  • April 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I stumbled on this article while I was looking for news about addiction. I understand that it’s meant to be helpful, but I unfortunately find it quite troubling.

    12-step recovery makes it very clear that you will relapse if you stop going to meetings. The alternatives are “jails, institutions or death”. Old-timers in AA and NA can give hundreds of examples of people who have stopped going to meetings, only to relapse and eventually return (or worse). There’s no question that this happens quite a bit.

    However, no one ever tells the story of people who stop going to meetings but stay clean. In fact, many in AA or NA will tell you that it’s simply not possible. Or, they will tell you to keep your mouth shut and not tell anyone because it’s not helpful to the newcomer.

    Well, we exist. I haven’t gone to meetings in close to four years and I’m just as clean as anyone in meetings. I know several other addicts who have been clean much longer than that–without meetings. And without a “higher power” or god. Why is this story never told? I don’t believe for a second that there are only a few of us.

    Why not tell it like it is? Why can’t we have an honest debate? Aren’t we more likely to find answers and new ways to treat addiction if we look at all sides of the story? I understand that AA/NA members don’t want this discussion, but health care professionals? Men and women of science?

    • October 21, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Thank you for sharing this. I recently sort of stopped going after 15 years clean. I found a great meditation group that has helped me grow in new ways that 12 step meetings have not. I’m not renouncing my membership but I agree we do not hear about people that have stopped going and have been fine ever since. I feel like I SHOULD know myself well enough by now of what i need to stay clean and my first thought is not so bad these days! In fact it mainly involves doing the right thing for the right reasons! I in fact do believe in God and I love the steps, it’s the meetings that haven’t felt useful to me. Well I’m going to AA tonight for the 1st time in about 6 weeks. I’ll keep you posted!

  • April 2, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    I quit going because I don’t need them anymore, but mainly because I don’t share the same belief system. In a 12 step meeting I am like a Jew in a Catholic church. My main disagreements are that they disempower people, use faith healing, are fear-based, and focus on negative topics in meetings (powerlessness, disease, character defects). I’ve always, even in my addiction, been positive and took responsibility for my behavior. I shared in meetings about courage, love, risk, dreams, goals, my drug as my lover/friend that I couldn’t let go. I was just an outsider! In short, it was good when I needed it, then I outgrew it and moved on.

  • April 3, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you kindly for mentioning secular alternatives like Lifering. Roughly 1/3 of folks in Lifering also attend AA, so they can co-exist in a single treatment plan. There is no “one size fits all” treatment philosophy. Looking at all the available options was very helpful to me.

  • April 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    They stop going because by and large, they don’t work. They are inherently religious programs that are largely negative to one’s self worth/esteem (i.e. diseased,never get better,spiritually sick etc) they have a 5% success rate at best and are really nothing more than snake oil and faith healing combined. Not affiliated with any outside organization or institution? Yeah right. Unless you exclude the courts, treatment centers,some churches and some health practicioners. AA has just become another bureaucracy that has hijacked the addiction treatment world and has helped make it a miserable failure.

  • April 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    When I cut way back on meetings I tend to isolate more and the negative thinking returns. My peace of mind is in direct proportion to the number of meetings I attend. That said I know people with three decades of sobriety who haven’t been to a meeting in 20 years.

    Fortunately I live in New York where, in early sobriety, I was told not to worry about God. “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking…” kept me going. I’m an agnostic and was told to come up with my own higher power. For 20+ years it’s: GOD = group of drunks. I know outside the city some in recovery are Bible thumpers; these people would have driven me from the doors of AA if I’d had to endure pressure to follow Christianity.

  • April 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Please stop going to AA meetings because it simply doesnt work. Lets be frank, see the stats see the topics, see teh relapse triggers at every meeting, (I count 25-30 before the meeting starts and 20 min after it ends. It does not take a scientist to see that those who talk about drugs alcohol and disease are the ones that get more of it. Good luck Namasate be well.

  • March 21, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Well for me, I am very grateful for my time in a 12 step program. But what I needed several years ago is not what I need now. I apply the principles in the steps every day and continue to practice a program of recovery. But I find meetings upsetting most of the time now. I have no desire to dwell in the person I used to be – that is the past. I’ve worked to leave that behind me but at times in meetings people seem so tied to their story that the recovery seems to be rarely mentioned.

    And a lot of people I see go to meetings but that doesn’t mean they are working a program of recovery! So you see all kinds of other behaviors come out that honestly frustrate me. It’s been a challenge, in trying to make it fit in my life when there are good things I miss but lately I am better off working my program without having to deal with people who don’t work theirs. And I feel a responsibility to give back but it’s amazing how people really want to run their own show more and more… people seem to be coming into recovery much earlier and not as desperate and I see a change in tone at the meetings that I’m not willing to fight each time I go.

    All the judgement and fear, if you don’t do things the way people feel you should… where is the open mindedness there? it’s too black and white for me. Life is short. Again I’m grateful, it’s a great program but I’m also grateful that in the 11th step we encourage people to seek additional guidance. It’s worked really well for me 🙂

  • May 17, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    After almost 11 years of meetings…I’ve had enough of that nonsense…some of the people are correct here…I would to anyone new get the help where you can…early recovery is a crazy time…i used once in 11 years and was told to lie about it “people will judge you” wth I thought honesty was the first spritual principle anyway…I found these old timers were the sickest ones…and in early recovery I was gullible and believed everything they said…most are FOS and they might as well be using…if I die so what…I was dieing in those rooms…I was banned from a church over a comment I made 2 meetings a week gone…I took as a sign of God’s will…let’s see if I get loaded again and if I do I’d rather die then go back there…if I’m honest with myself I got very little recovery in AA and NA…and let’s not talk about all the pyscopaths in there…there favorite phrase is “I fell off the wagon again” haha God bless you and enjoy your day!:)

  • March 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I am forced to participate in AA/NA to stay in my recovery program; however, the minute I have completed my recovery and no longer need their help I will cease meetings entirely. I get nothing out of them. I don’t relate to 90% of the people and their addiction(s). I feel out of place and unwelcome anyway; however, that doesn’t matter much to me, as I am not a social person. Which brings me to another issue I have with these meetings. I am very anti-social, and I am not comfortable around people. So, in order for ME to recover through the process that I am, they force me to be VERY uncomfortable, and attend numerous meetings every week. I am made to feel very weird and uncomfortable just to be included in this recovery process.

    Meetings are fine if they work for people. I don’t think AA/NA should not exist at all. I just thing making it mandatory, and pushing the narrative that without these meetings you will 100% relapse is stupid, and should cease immediately. The ‘program’ is NOT the be all / end all, and it is only necessary for those who find it useful. It is not one size fits all and I am counting the days until I no longer have to be a part of the program myself.

  • September 2, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Well I had like 20 years clean. I stopped going to meetings like 10 years ago. And I was doing fine and feeling good for a long time. Slowly but surely I started a drink here a toke there. I never became full blown addict again. But boy I was getting miserable. I am also anti social and going to meetings forced me to get out of my self. I was very young when I got clean now 30 years later I am having a hard time in my life. And I am glad I read this article because I wondering if I should go back. I agreed with people that a lot of people in the meetings are full of it and I don’t believe half of the stuff I hear. But right now I need it, and I decided I am going to use them for a jumping off point to figure out my life and change my attitude. I am not sure if I even want to use anymore, but just being around people again and listen to the hope and strength and the remember when’s is what I need now. Now I know what complacency means. My life is just out of balance and I feel Ill know where to go or what to do once I can get out of my self for a while and look for solutions. Ill keep you up to date.

    • December 3, 2018 at 2:07 pm

      Don’t wait till your at the jumping off point, prevent that from happening. It sucks to hit rock bottom, so definitely do everything you can before hitting that. Don’t let yourself slip too far onto the dark path. Go to a meeting, you’ll feel better, more productive in your recovery, and more in control. I hope you needed this, also hope this helps.

      ~Health Educator

  • July 26, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    I went to meetings when I was mandated too.
    I was vulnerable and taken advantage of and abused.
    Meetings were not for me. It was be in a click or be abandoned.
    Being shy and to my self the women ignored me.
    the whole rehab/ recovery system is designed for extroverts and those who can be
    part of a group,

    I have talked to others for whom meetings were not the chosen method of recovery.
    Its time for the recovery community to wake up realize that choice of recovery method
    should be offered!


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