What are meetings for? How do they work?

What are meetings for? Many newcomers to 12-step programs have the same question.

Meetings are where you can find support and the company of those who are working and starting to work the program of recovery.

There are different meetings, topic meetings, patterns meetings, literature meetings, but almost all of them follow the same opening formats.

Someone is selected to lead the meeting and there are participants in the opening readings. For most meetings, the following items are read at the opening of the meeting after the opening prayer, usually the Serenity Prayer: the PAA Welcome and Preamble, the 12 Steps, then the 12 Traditions. Some meetings read the Patterns of Pornography Addiction or portions to help newcomers identify with possible behaviors that they might think are unique to themselves.

During the meeting, there may be literature read, a topic chosen or a specific pattern being focused on followed by sharing by each of the members who choose to participate. No one is required to share, but we find that the addiction to pornography likes to keep secrets. Secrets can create the perfect situation for a relapse.

During the meeting, members listen quietly to the member reading or sharing. We avoid crosstalk since this might make the meeting feel unsafe for some members.

The meeting is also sometimes closed with the reading of The Promises followed by the Serenity Prayer. Some meetings use other prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer. Each meeting is autonomous as long as it does not affect other meetings or PAA as a whole and can use whatever prayer they feel appropriate through the group conscience process.

In Face-to-Face meetings, there is usually a basket passed around to cover the costs of the meeting space rental and is called the 7th Tradition. Money left over after expenses are paid is usually sent to PAA to cover other costs.

Some meetings allow time after the close of the meeting for newcomers to ask questions and get phone numbers of those who are available for sponsorship.