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10 Types of People You’ll Meet at 12-Step Meetings

by Lisa Page Rosenberg on April 26, 2015 in 12-Step Recovery

In recovery meetings you'll encounter a cross-section of humanity with seemingly nothing in common except their addictions. There are, however, a number of stereotypes that exist in the 12-step world, and they exist largely because they are true.

Do You Recognize Any of These Types?

  1. The 13th-stepper – This man makes a sport of exclusively dating women who are in their first 60 days of sobriety. Not unlike the older man/younger woman paradigm, vulnerable ladies new to recovery are much easier to impress with smooth talk and after-meeting "coffee dates" than an old-timer who can see through a 13thstepper's game. Recognize these guys by their perfect hair and multi-chip key chains.
  2. The Book Thumper – These folks recite passages by rote from The Big Book, often dropping them into casual conversation. "I was headed for a case of road rage and then I remembered, it says in the Book, 'And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today,' page 417, fourth edition." The Book Thumper is known for her ability to quote a Big Bookphrase on any theme. Also fluent in 12 & 12" and "As Bill Sees It."
  3. The Meeting Hound – There are 48 recovery meetings a week in your area and somehow this member is present at all of them. AA, CA, NA, SLAA, the Meeting Hound is a permanent fixture at all. Recognize him by his coffee breath and fondness for the greeting, "Haven't seen you at a meeting in a while!"
  4. The Forever-on-Four – This guy is always in the middle of his fourth step. He'll tell you how the fourth is kicking his ass and how difficult it is to "get honest." He's always searching for a new sponsor he can trust, who really "gets" him. Know him by his willingness to start the steps over every few months, while still never getting to five.
  5. The Catchphraser – This "Friend of Bill W's" tosses out recovery slogans as if she penned them herself. She likes to remind others to "suit up and show up" and "live and let live." She lives life "one day at a time" and is known to "expect a miracle." She "keeps it simple" and "it works for her, if she works it." Recognizable by her affection for sobriety circle-triangle jewelry and her Ford Fiesta's "Easy Does It" bumper sticker.
  6. The Day Counter – This addict has a sobriety calculator app on her iPhone and can't wait to introduce herself by her name, her addiction and the number of days sober she has. She will congratulate those celebrating a recovery anniversary with a shout out of "Three years? That's 1,095 days! Woot!" Related: The Minute Counter.
  7. The Pink Cloud – This guy has 42 days and he's feeling fantastic! Sobriety has helped him get his life together! He's learning so much about himself! The obsession to use has been lifted! He has found a higher power and meetings are the greatest! Things have really, never, ever, been better! You will know him as the enthusiastic greeter at the door who doesn't have a sponsor yet.
  8. The Texter – Often a newcomer, you know the top of this woman's head well, since her face is always directed down towards her phone. She taps furiously before meetings and during the break to appear busy and avoid making direct eye contact or meeting new people. Find her at IfIDontLookAtYouThenIAmInvisible.com, #Scared, #EarlyDays and #DontTalkToMePleaseTalkToMe.
  9. The Crier – She will cry and nod through the reading of "How it Works." She will sob during the speaker's pitch. Her nose is red and running through the shares and anniversaries. They might be tears of joy or tears of sadness, but they are tears and she has an endless supply. Find The Crier by following the trail of wadded up tissues leading to the doughnuts.
  10. The Old-Timer – He has more years sober than Dr. Bob was alive. He's seen know-it-all kids like you before and suggests that you "take a seat in the front, shut up and listen." He's the guy who is happy to "Call you on your BS." If it's your first meeting, he tells you, "Congratulations, if you stick around and do what you're told, maybe you won't die." His motto is "You're new 'til you're 10." You will recognize him as the guy you used to be afraid of until he saved your life.

6 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    True and good. Its important to keep in mind these folks are “unaware” or don’t care of the influence they have on others. (11) The “low bottom” drunk. He has been sober since age 25 give or take, the Ghandi of sponsor’s. This guy knows character defects in 7 different languages. His demeanor is consolatory except he constantly interrupts you to say something more important than what you were saying. Don’t forget This guy.

  2. MikeH says:

    A bit sexist on number one. As a male (willing) victim of a female serial 13 stepper I can tell you that 13 stepping is not exclusively confined to males.

    Number 11 nailed me at least in part. I do interpupt and do get carried away with my own ideas. It’s a character defect I have known about for a while but God doesn’t seem to want to take it away. Will try to be a better listener in future.
    Mike.

  3. Greg says:

    All 10 (good or bad) have one thing in common. They are all an arm’s length away from their next drink. AAocrite – the guy or gal sponsor that tells the newcomer that they don’t care if they go back out and drink again…then in the same room, bows their head for a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers inside and outside the rooms. That’s a real head scratcher for me.

  4. Lupe P., Lima, Peru says:

    Hey! Since when being a Big Book Thumper -practicing the Steps as laid out in AA book – became wrong? LOL

    Ok, checking who am I nowadays (June 2016,6 years practicing Steps as BB directs)… Now I’m procastinating Step 11th and being dishonest with myself,so I am number 2 and missing number 7 when I had an unshakeable faith “I”/ ME was doing such a good job of doing nothing but share and keep my eye on my mind so I could control myself.

    I agree with the types should include men and women in my experience. I also agree with Dan 11 type proposed.

    I’d propose a 14: man or female sharing about “when I arrived here/ when I did Step(s)… “X” years ago, so holding on his/her past experience to stay in control of his/her obsession today.

  5. kiowhatta says:

    Once again a female perpetrating the narrative that men are predators, women are victims.
    My 20 odd years experience has taught me that sexual liaisons are complex and most certainly both parties are operating from a needs meet basis.
    Women certainly had to use their most powerful resource in addiction: and that is their ability to sexually manipulate, seductive rain-checking, setting up a web, or just simply inviting a man into their pattern based drama.
    Men will willingly and blindly fall into a trap set by an experienced seductress, then he will be demonised and villianised for being a ‘predator’; with only the most wise and neutral observer’s understanding what’s happened.
    That’s not to say that there are men who are trying to get sex, and will prey on vulnerable women..it happens.
    But to claim that it’s all one way traffic is irresponsible and biased.

  6. cassius says:

    Forever on four im celebrating my 2 year cake with NA on march 28,2017. Currently i am on my third step with my third sponspor and my third time doing the steps over without making it to step 5. I take some comfort that other men out there struggle to open up as much as i do. My past haughts me and it can a pain in the ass to dig up all that shit i tried to bury for so many years.i now know that burying that shit and pretending it never happened only helped me to become an addict in the first place. My favourite quote from rehab was ” to forgive is to set a prisoner free, only to realize that prisoner was you”. Coming to understand my HP as i interpret it and doing the steps over a third time is helping me to let go of my reservations about spirituality and fellowship. Relaspe isnt part of my story so i do the best i can to keep it that way. When i hit a wall in recovery, attending more meetings and calling my sponsor have helped as well as outside counselling. My first two sponspors were not going to help me in a objective way without them trying to put their own beliefs onto me. I also have a hard time trusting people. The steps and a right sponsor will help me let go of the past and to work through my character defects, and this third time around ive found my HP which is written in our literature the power of the rooms and the love and support in them. Thats a power far greater then me. The fact that NA is not a religious program has been my saving grace that has helped me to come to an understanding of my beliefs. Reading the forever on four stepper made me jump up and yell oh my goodness thats me ! To a tee lol but i was also taught that recovery doesnt happen overnight and that we didnt become addicted in one day so you wont recover in that amount of time so easy does it. I was also taught to go through as many sponsors as i needed until i found the best fit for me, that sponsors are to be objective and impersonal to the process. ( meaning not to take it personally or get cuaght up emotionally like romance ) so that my sponsor could help through the steps and gain a better understanding. Maybe im strict or too stubborn but it took me three times before i found my charm my sponsor. She is a woman and ive found some trust in her and she is willing to take on step four with me as fast or slow as i need to get over my fear to take my inventory and let my past go. What i do know regardless of how many steps i do over or how many sponsors i go through narcotics anonymous saved my life ! Recovery is possible which seemed impossible but now i feel like the places i have left to go is in a forward direction and just maybe someday soon i will make it to step 5.

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