The First Meeting is the Most Important (October 26, 2006)

I have two sobriety dates that are meaningful to me: the date that I attended my first 12 Step meeting, and the date that I finally committed to living a life of abstinence—a date so important to me that I had it tattooed on the back of my arm.

Early on in my recovery, the second date was the most important to me, as it marked my continuous sobriety. But something funny has happened as my sobriety has become longer and longer: I now realize the importance of my first sobriety date.

That first 12 Step meeting was the most memorable meeting of my entire life. I’ve gone to thousands of meetings over the years, and I don’t remember any of them with the clarity with which I can still see my first. The decision to go to that meeting was made over years. I tried everything to control my drinking: I went to see psychiatrists and psychologists, I tried to stop on my own, I tried to moderate. Finally, I had to face the fact that I couldn’t control my drinking. The game was over. I needed help.

My recovery began at my first 12 Step meeting. I remember exactly where I was: I sat at the back of the room next to a guy who I didn’t know at the time but who, to this day, I’m still friends with. The meeting was just down the street from my apartment – I even knew some of the people in the room already. After a long time suffering alone, it was amazing to finally connect with others who understand and shared my problem. And, more than that, they were actually addressing the problem. Certainly I was confused by some of the language used in the meeting, the mentions of God and powerlessness. But I listened to what was being said nevertheless. I knew that I didn’t have any other options; I had exhausted all of them over the years.

Over the next two years, I attended many meetings, strung together several months of continuous sobriety, and relapsed often. And then, two years after that first meeting, I had enough. I knew that I couldn’t continue to drink. I’d been hanging around 12 Step meetings for years, at that point, and I finally jumped in whole-heartedly.

As I understand it today, it was that very first meeting that set my recovery in motion. Even though I struggled for another couple of years, that struggle was part of my journey in recovery. Looking back, my first meeting was the most important meeting I’ve ever attended.

Adam Banks is a certified recovery coach and interventionist at Suntra Modern Recovery.  He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and built a company which United Health Care acquired. He learned his rigor and attention to detail from his career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available in New York, Long Island, and the Hamptons. Treatment for opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today.

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