Ninety Meetings in Ninety Days

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When I first came to sobriety, I was trying to demonstrate my commitment. It wasn’t entirely to recover, but to be able to tell a judge that I’d changed my ways for the better.

Part of doing so would be to attend 90 meetings of either Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) over a 90-day period.

Why NA or AA? Because, although I didn’t live in a rural area, my town was too small to have enough meetings to attend for either brand exclusively. My drug of choice was painkillers, so NA would have been the best option, but at the time, NA meetings were a bit hard to come by. AA would have to make up the difference.

Scheduling Problems

The first thing that arises when you attempt to average a meeting every day is fitting it into your life. Plans have to be changed, excuses made, and anything approaching a social life forgone. But those are good things. It means more when it costs more.

The second problem is finding active meetings. I quickly found that online resources, while generally excellent, often listed meetings that were no longer being held. Sometimes, locations and times had changed. Other times, meetings seemed to just have evaporated into thin air. I’d show up at a church or a community building, only to find it locked and shut down for the evening.

The best resource for finding meetings to attend turned out to be people at active meetings. Explaining my situation and goal worked wonders. I got phone numbers for contacts and information about meetings that weren’t listed elsewhere. I learned to carry around a little notebook with a calendar so I could pencil in possibilities and notes.

And then there was transportation. I was lucky in that I still had driving privileges. But I met folks who didn’t. Their solution was to find rides when needed from other members.

Finally, it turned out that meetings were often clustered around certain days of the week. Fridays and Saturdays were pretty popular, with Wednesday a close third. I don’t know why. When I couldn’t find a meeting (or couldn’t get to one), I had to double up later. A few times I went to three different meetings a day in different, surrounding towns.

Was It Worth It?

This is an easy question. A resounding “Yes!”

At first, I was hitting meetings to make my quota. After a week or two, I began to see how they differed, how, at some meetings, I really connected with the people and at others I still felt like a stranger, even after coming several times. The AA meetings were a nice counterpoint to the NA meetings. I found them more structured and better run, with a deeper experience base among the members.

At NA meetings though, I could see the damage addiction was doing much more clearly. They wore their addictions closer to the surface, and the stories were often painful to hear. But, of course, I needed to hear them.

After the three months were up, I had an excellent understanding of what help was available to me in my community. I knew, first hand, which groups would serve as my anchors thereafter.

My advice to anyone contemplating the 90-in-90 is to strike while the iron is hot. Do it when you are the most motivated, no matter what drives you: a court, your significant other, or your own disgust with addiction. Whatever you start with, it will end up being a positive experience. The immersion can’t be resisted for long – I can’t imagine anyone could fake their way through three months of daily meetings.

Are there bad meetings? Yes, at least there were for me. But I only came to see them as less helpful because I’d found much better. Without the comparison, I wouldn’t have known.

The point is to work your way through all the logistical problems and get there. Let others know what you are doing. You will find support.

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