The 10 People You Meet in the 12 Steps

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The 10 People You Meet in the 12 Steps

By Brian Whitney 01/08/16

The Pink Cloud Guy has lost his wife, his family and his job. He has no place to live and is sporting a black eye, but things are great!

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The 10 People You Meet in the 12 Steps
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Ahh, the 12-step meeting. You may love them, you may despise them, and it is quite possible that you need them, but regardless of how you feel about recovery meetings, they all tend to have the same types of people there. Through a variety of circumstances that would take far too long to explain, I have checked out a lot of meetings in my day. I have been to AA meetings, NA meetings and SA meetings. I have been to meetings in Beverly Hills, in a bad neighborhood in Philadelphia and in a church basement in Maine. 

While the geographical locations and addictions changed, one thing didn’t. I saw the same basic groups of people at every meeting I attended. While there are plenty of people at meetings who are doing their own thing and getting what they need out of meetings, there are also a lot of people who go to meetings who seemingly only exist to either amuse or make other attendees lose their minds.

Here are 10 types of people you will meet at recovery meetings:

10. The Topper

You may think your addiction was bad. I mean it seemed bad at the time, right? Guess what? It wasn’t. The Topper is here to tell you that his addiction was way worse. It was not only worse, it was funnier, while still somehow being tragic. His stories of addiction make A Million Little Pieces read like a bedtime story. He made millions of dollars, lost it all, and got it back again, three times. He made hundreds of women cry, and all of them were beautiful. You used to shoot 50 bags of heroin a day? He shot 100. You used to go to work drunk? He ran multi-million dollar corporations while drinking three bottles of vodka a day. The best part about The Topper is that he can fill up minutes if the meeting is dragging. The worst part? No one believes anything he says.

9. The Equal Opportunity Addict

This person is addicted to everything. He just went to a sex addiction meeting, now he is here at an AA meeting, then, after this, he has to run to an NA meeting. Because he is busy with all of these meetings, he has had an issue with eating a balanced diet, which is a problem because he is a food addict. He was going to email you yesterday, but he thinks he might have a problem with using too much technology. He can’t go to the comic con with you next weekend because he is worried about how much anime he has been watching lately and thinks seeing hot women dressed up like superheroes might trigger him. Don’t feel bad for him though, because he is a shame junkie.

8. The Philanderer

If you think about it, and believe me I have, what better place than a recovery meeting could one go to meet someone who is vulnerable, looking for attention and seeking something to take their minds off their problems? Also known as the dreaded “13th Stepper," there is always at least one philanderer in the crowd. If you aren’t sure who he is, just find the hottest woman in the room and look to her right. This guy is a good listener and is almost always armed with a pack of smokes, and a sincere expression on his face. He is universally hated by all other meeting attendees because of his lack of morals and because he is also living out everyone else’s fantasy.

7. The Pink Cloud

This guy is just so, so happy to be here. “What a great day it is today! Man, it is great to be sober! Woo! Things were bad for a while, but not anymore!” This guy has lost his wife, his family and his job. He has no place to live, $40 in his checking account, and is sporting a black eye, but things are great! Of course The Pink Cloud guy has only been feeling that things are so incredibly awesome for a couple of days, which is the same amount of time that he has been sober. Shh…don’t wake him up; he will do that on his own in a couple of days.

6. The Mandatory Attendee

This guy usually comes in late with a couple friends, sits in the back, giggles a bit, yawns loudly, takes a quick nap, then rushes up to the front to get the speaker to sign a piece of paper that says he was at the meeting and runs out the door as soon as possible. Why is he here if he doesn't want to be? Well because going to the meeting is part of his bail conditions, and if he doesn't go to a meeting, he goes to jail. While this method rarely helps the individual in question stop using, it does allow judges and probation officers to feel like they are doing something productive, and isn't that all that really matters? While you might want to reach out to The Mandatory Attendee, let him approach you first. The odds are that he thinks you are a complete lunatic.

5. The Constant Relapser

The Constant Relapser is an important part of any 12-step meeting. He is a paradox. After a relapse he is full of shame, and thinks he is a complete loser, then once he pulls himself together a few weeks, he is full of hope and talks a lot of program jargon. He constantly vacillates between being a role model and a cautionary tale for others. This in turn allows other meeting attendees to vacillate back-and-forth between thinking he is a complete loser, and being full of hope and talking a lot of program jargon to him.

4. The Proceed With Caution Guy

What are you doing after the meeting? Going to grab a bite with a few people from work? Well that sounds nice, kind of boring, but nice. But is it? Not to The Proceed with Caution Guy. They serve booze there. You are going to a Slippery Place. And don’t some of your work friends drink? Now that you recall, last time you went out one of them had two beers. So, these work friends are Slippery People. So you can’t do that. Maybe you should go for a run instead. Oh, but wait, the route you take on your jog goes past that bar you used to drink at. You might as well just take a bath in a tub full of whiskey. This type will let you know that anything you can possibly think of doing is fraught with danger, and usually does so with fervent glee.

3. The Catch Phrase Guy

You might think your situation is complicated, but all you need to do is Keep It Simple Stupid. You might feel shame but you are Only As Sick As Your Secrets. Think your day is bad? Well your Worst Day Sober is Better Than Your Best Day Drinking. Worried about the fact that you are homeless? One Day at a Time, my friend. The Catch Phrase Guy is often the subject of numerous violent daydreams during the meeting.

2. The Invisible Man

This person sits in the back of the room and keeps his head down while avoiding all contact with everyone and everything. He visibly shudders at any thought of physical contact and recoils when someone attempts to reach out to him in any way. When the meeting ends The Invisible Man is the first one out, even before The Mandatory Attendee, because he doesn’t need anything signed. The Invisible Man is usually someone that is at a meeting to tell themselves, their wife, their counselor or others in their lives that they tried going to meetings and it didn’t work, and for them they were 100% right.

1. The Pro

The Pro is kind of like your angry dad. This guy will rattle off Big Book pages and paragraph numbers without any further explanation, and if you crosstalk, or go over your time limit, he will let you know immediately. He knows everyone in the meeting and usually revels in his role as alpha dog. There is occasionally a pro that acts as a benevolent master, but usually this type tends to be rather hardcore. If you have an anti-authoritarian leaning, as many addicts do, listening to this guy will make you want to run, not walk to the nearest bar for a highball.

Brian Whitney is a pseudonym for an author and ghostwriter, his book Raping the Gods became available in the Spring of 2015. He recently interviewed Patrick Kennedy.

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