Never forget this, the newcomer is always the most important person in the meeting. The original purpose of meetings of AA, and it says it directly in the book, is for newcomers to find and hear the message. We stay sober by helping the newcomer and, more often than not, the newcomer helps the old-timers more than they know. We are a community built on helping each other. If you step foot into any Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, chances are that you will hear suggestions for the newcomer. In reality, these aren’t actually suggestions; they are clear-cut directions on how to stay sober. Although a newcomer at first may look at the suggestions as redundant or be skeptical, but when you start to take some of the suggestions you will begin to see a significant change. Suggestions are just that, suggestions; nothing is forced in AA. If you are ready and willing to get sober and stay sober, suggestions are what’s going to keep you on track. When I was a newcomer, I didn’t want to follow anything anyone said and I wanted to do it my way. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, and I relapsed countless times before turning my will over and actually putting in work. Once I finally sucked it up and put my grown-up pants on, my whole life began to change. Here is a list of suggestions given to those who are ready to take action towards a happy sober life. Get to meetings! Arrive early and stay after and speak to other people who are living the right way. Listen, when you’re in the meeting; put your phone down and try to get the most out of the meeting. Not every meeting is going to be groundbreaking or life changing but you will ALWAYS get something out of it if you listen. Meetings are one of the most important pieces to the recovery puzzle. They’re where you’ll meet people, learn things, and hear from people with experience. Get A Sponsor A sponsor is someone who will take you through the book and guide you through your 12 steps. This is someone who models the behaviors you admire. Someone who has “what you want.” Raise your hand and let the group know you are looking for a sponsor. If no one comes up to you at first, keep doing it. The person who approaches you is the person with the best sobriety; doing EXACTLY what they should be doing. Take their advice! Get a Big Book This book outlines the entire AA world – how it started, what it means to be an alcoholic, how the originals did it, and how they continue to live the program in their day-to-day life. But most importantly, they PROMISE that you will see the same results if you simply follow the steps. You cannot get through your steps without the big book, if someone hands you a packet, throw it away and find a big book. This is the single most important piece of literature an alcoholic will ever need to get sober. Men with the Men, Women with the Women A boyfriend or girlfriend will not keep you happy, sober and free. I understand completely the desire to be in a relationship, especially when your security blanket of alcohol is removed. We do things like start dating in detox because we are uncomfortable with ourselves and try to fill a void within us. All this does is create drama and cause distractions. A powerful suggestion that is usually overlooked is this one. It is easier said than done to only focus on yourself, but following this suggestion will help make all the difference. Don’t Count the Time Make the Time Count This is not to minimize the importance of sober time, but while sober, take action towards bettering your life. Nothing changes if you spend every day at the beach drinking Red Bulls, be productive! A dry drunk is the worst kind. Make a schedule for yourself to help you do more positive growing activities. Contact Sober Supports Get contact lists at meetings, save numbers and CALL THEM! People put their numbers down for a reason; they want you to call! Any member of Alcoholics Anonymous who is living right will always be happy to answer and help. Hangout with People with More Time Than You There is no doubt that someone with a little time, who has completed steps and is continuously bettering his or her life is someone a newcomer can benefit from. Newcomers should surround themselves with people they aspire to be like. I know for me, one of the key things was a solid group of sober people that I could depend on and look up to. Prayer Whether you have a higher power or are looking still, having a relationship with God is nothing but beneficial. This is a spiritual program based on spiritual principles. Having a relationship with a higher power or faith gives us purpose, direction, and serenity. It makes everything hard a whole lot easier. Meditation Learn to sit with yourself. It is impossible to shut your brain off, so don’t try to do that. Even when we sleep, our minds are still chattering, so instead, find a peaceful place and sit and just focus on your breathing. Meditation can really be anything, as long as it is done with purpose and focus. Don’t Take Everything So Seriously, Except Your Recovery It is very easy to fall into negativity and fight with yourself. Everything is temporary as long as you have the capacity to change. Stay focused on good things and do not spend time with negative people. There is always an upside if you stay grateful it’ll be easier to see. Getting Help at Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as services for medical professionals and veterans. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.