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Tips for the Newcomer

Early recovery can be both exciting and challenging and it is natural for people to experience a period of transition as they integrate back into everyday life. Thankfully, there are some proactive measures that you can take to ease your transition and help ensure that you begin your recovery on the right track.

The following information is cited with permission from the book: Getting Started in AA, by Hamilton B., published in 1996 by Hazelden Publications.

If you do not have a sponsor or contact in AA/NA, call Inter Group or Central Office, usually listed under “Alcoholics Anonymous” or “Narcotics Anonymous” world services. They will provide information on:

  1. Meeting schedules
  2. Recommendations for meetings
  3. Fellowship contacts
  4. Twelve Step literature

Types of AA/ NA meetings:

  1. Open discussions meetings: these meetings are open to anyone.
  2. Closed discussions meetings: these meetings are open to AA/NA members only.
  3. Speaker meetings
  4. Beginner meetings
  5. Big Book study groups (highly recommended one per week each)
  6. Step Study groups (highly recommended one per week each)
  7. Men’s or women’s meetings

Remember the only requirement of membership is a desire to stop drinking and using.

Find a meeting you like and make it your “Home Group”.

There are no rules in AA/ NA however some basic courtesies are recommended:

  1. Each AA/NA meeting may have a slightly different format
  2. Watch, listen and learn about your group
  3. Typically, you will raise your hand to share
  4. Identify yourself by first name and I’m an alcoholic or addict
  5. Keep your sharing brief to allow others a chance to share


Sponsorship is important to your recovery so you will want to find a sponsor or temporary sponsor as soon as possible. Here are some helpful tips on sponsorship:

  1. Men sponsor men and women sponsor women, exceptions are rare.
  2. It is helpful to share the same home group with your sponsor.
  3. Being asked to sponsor a newcomer is a privilege so don’t hesitate to ask someone.
  4. Listen to people share at meetings. When you hear someone share a few times and ‘like what they share’, introduce yourself to them after the meeting and ask if you could meet with them about sponsorship.

Sponsor Role

  1. Your sponsor shares their experience, strength and hope with you and helps you work the 12 Steps.
  2. Your sponsor is not your best friend, although a good friendship often develops.
  3. Your sponsor should have their own sponsor as well.
  4. Your sponsor needs to be regularly available.
  5. Find a sponsor who has what you want.
  6. Your recovery is your responsibility. Your sponsor will not keep you sober.
  7. Share things with your sponsor that you might not be comfortable sharing in a meeting.
  8. Your sponsor can monitor your progress, confront self-sabotaging behaviors when it is appropriate and support you staying on a recovery journey.
  9. Sponsorship is a rewarding experience for those providing the service or being supported.