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Why young peoples meetings suck for the new comer

 

Is it just me or are young peoples meetings a bit intimidating as a newcomer?  I remember walking up to my first young peoples meeting in Santa Monica and having it feel so foreign to me.  Everyone was smoking cigarettes and covered in tattoos.  Everyone was so stylish and hip and the girls treated the middle aisle of the room more like a modeling runway.  I felt judged instantly.  The rooms of AA had always felt like the one secure place I had in my life and I definitely did not get that feeling.

As a newcomer I was extremely vulnerable and self-conscious.  It’s a big deal being able to raise your hand and identify to the whole room that you are in your first 30 days of sobriety.  Not everyone can do it at first, but it doesn’t help when everyone is “clicked up” and nobody talks to you before or after the meetings.  Fellowshipping was what really allowed me to let down my walls and be willing to give the program a try.  Most meetings I went to people would come up and introduce themselves and give me there number and even invite me out to eat with the group after the meeting.  My experience at young peoples meetings was much different.  Even the greeters ignored me at me first.  I felt like the new kid at his first day of school.  Even the seating arrangements made me feel uncomfortable.  All the seats were saved an hour early so that newcomers, who don’t realize it’s just the same asshole who does it every meeting, were forced to sit on the stage behind the speaker at the front of the meeting like a side show freak being pointed at and ridiculed.  As if it wasn’t bad enough being new.

Young peoples meetings always have much more commotion than other meetings, which can be distracting.  Texting or talking during the meeting often turns into arguments, which then sometimes turns into fights.  When I say sometimes I mean rarely.  You’ll hear one guy say “lets go dude” and the other say “lets take this outside” and after another minute of chest bumping and taking off their shirt much like a peacock shows off its feathers, they shake hands and its over.  It’s quite humorous to watch but really distracting especially to a newcomer where everything is so new and fresh and the meetings are what is keeping you sober.  The language used is also really distracting.  Its painful listening to some people get up to the front and talk. Every once in a while people have really good things to say but the message is so convoluted with cussing and the word “like” that you can’t follow.

There isn’t as much sobriety in the young peoples meetings compared to other meetings.  You often get rehab and sober living patients that get dropped off in the druggy buggy who are forced to be there and don’t really have much interest in getting sober.  You see these people coming in and out of the rooms constantly.  Then there are the people who think of AA more like a social event or a place to romance the opposite sex.  As you might sometimes hear people say, “13 stepping isn’t a step, it’s a tradition”.  We all know it happens.  Now I’m not a fan of the old-timer big book thumpers but I do appreciate the wisdom that they bestow.  At least you know they are doing something right and that their intentions are to stay sober and help other people to do the same.  That’s not always the case at young peoples meetings.

Young peoples meetings are definitely tough for a newcomer but what I learned from my experience is that if you do decide to stay you quickly find out who is doing the deal and has what you want.  Ignore the rest of the bullshit.  It might suck in the beginning but the guest speakers are usually really good and it can help to identify with somebody your own age. Also I suggest grabbing a commitment so that people notice you and know that you intend on sticking around.  Getting involved is really important.  Making friends is always hard but getting a sponsor who can introduce you to people is a really valuable tool as well.  One day at a time, it will get easier.

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Filed under: Addiction, Life, Recovery, Treatment · Tags: 12 step meetings, 12 step program, 12-steps, alcohol treatment, Recovery, sobriety, teen drug abuse