Fellowship Meetings

What are fellowship meetings?

Fellowship meetings are gatherings designed to support individuals recovering from addiction. These meetings offer a safe, supportive environment where participants can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and develop strategies for maintaining sobriety. They are typically organised by peer-led support groups and emphasise mutual aid, confidentiality, and respect.

Overview of the history of fellowship meetings in the UK

Fellowship meetings for addiction recovery in the UK have a rich history dating back to the mid-20th century. The establishment of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1935 in the United States laid the groundwork for similar movements worldwide. The first AA meeting in the UK was held in 1947, setting the stage for a network of support groups addressing various addictions. Over the decades, numerous fellowships have emerged, each providing tailored support to individuals battling specific addictions.

What to expect from a typical fellowship meeting


A typical fellowship meeting for addiction recovery is designed to provide a structured yet flexible environment that fosters mutual support and personal growth. While the specific format can vary depending on the fellowship and the group’s preferences, most meetings share common elements. Here’s what you can generally expect:



  • The meeting usually begins with a warm welcome from the meeting leader or chairperson. Newcomers are often asked to introduce themselves by their first name, and everyone else may briefly reintroduce themselves. This helps create a sense of community and familiarity.



Reading of preamble and principles

  • Most fellowships have a set of guiding principles or a preamble that outlines the purpose and ethos of the group. This is typically read aloud at the beginning of each meeting to remind participants of the group’s focus on support, anonymity, and recovery.



Sharing of stories

  • One of the core components of fellowship meetings is the sharing session. Members take turns sharing their personal experiences with addiction and recovery. This sharing is voluntary, and there is no pressure to speak if one does not feel comfortable. The stories can be powerful, providing inspiration and insight to others in the group.



Topic discussions

  • Meetings may have a predetermined topic for discussion, such as managing cravings, dealing with relapse, or coping with stress. The group might choose the topic or the meeting leader. Members can share their thoughts and experiences related to the topic, offering practical advice and emotional support.



Readings and reflections

  • Many fellowships incorporate readings from their literature, such as the “Big Book” in Alcoholics Anonymous or other relevant texts. These readings can focus on reflection and discussion, offering wisdom and guidance to those in recovery.



Group activities

  • Some meetings may include specific activities such as meditation, prayer (in faith-based fellowships), or exercises designed to enhance self-awareness and coping skills. These activities are usually optional and designed to complement the recovery process.




  • Before the meeting concludes, there may be a time for announcements regarding upcoming events, additional meetings, or other relevant information that could benefit members. This can include opportunities for service, workshops, or social gatherings.




  • Meetings often end with a closing statement or ritual, such as a group prayer, a moment of silence, or a closing reading. This helps bring a sense of closure and unity to the group. Members may also have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with each other after the formal meeting ends.


Atmosphere and conduct

The atmosphere and conduct of fellowship meetings are fundamental to creating a safe and supportive environment for all participants. These principles ensure everyone feels valued, heard, and respected, which is crucial for effective recovery. The key aspects of atmosphere and conduct include:

  • Respect and confidentiality: Members are expected to respect each other’s stories and maintain confidentiality. What is shared in the meeting stays in the meeting.
  • Non-judgmental environment: Meetings are safe spaces where individuals can speak openly without fear of judgement or criticism.
  • Supportive and encouraging: The atmosphere is generally supportive, with members offering encouragement and understanding to one another.

Meeting variations 

  • Open vs. closed meetings: Open meetings welcome anyone interested in the fellowship, including family members and friends. Closed meetings are restricted to those who identify as having the addiction the fellowship addresses.
  • Speaker meetings: Sometimes, a specific member may be invited to speak about their journey in more detail, offering insights and inspiration to the group.

Attending a fellowship meeting can be a transformative experience. It offers the chance to connect with others who understand the challenges of addiction and are committed to supporting each other in recovery.

The benefits of fellowship meetings


Fellowship meetings play a crucial role in the recovery process for many individuals struggling with addiction. These gatherings provide a unique blend of support, understanding, and practical advice that can significantly enhance one’s journey to sobriety. The benefits of attending fellowship meetings are manifold, impacting emotional well-being, accountability, personal growth, and social connections.

  • Emotional support: One of the most immediate benefits of fellowship meetings is their emotional support. Sharing experiences with others who understand addiction fosters a sense of belonging and reduces feelings of isolation. Hearing similar stories can be incredibly validating and reassuring, helping members realise they are not alone in their struggles.
  • Accountability: Regular attendance at fellowship meetings helps individuals stay accountable for their recovery journey. Knowing that others are aware of their progress and challenges can motivate members to stay committed to their sobriety goals. The expectation of attending and participating in meetings provides a consistent structure that supports long-term recovery.
  • Practical advice: Fellowship meetings are a rich source of practical advice. Members exchange strategies and coping mechanisms that have helped them maintain sobriety. This peer-to-peer sharing can provide actionable insights and solutions that are often more relatable and applicable than those found in professional settings alone.
  • Personal growth: Meetings provide ample opportunities for self-reflection and personal development. Sharing personal stories and listening to others can prompt members to think more deeply about their experiences, behaviours, and goals. This process of introspection and feedback is essential for personal growth and self-improvement.
  • Networking: Building connections with others in recovery can lead to lasting friendships and support networks. These relationships are built on shared experiences and mutual understanding, making them particularly strong and supportive. A robust network of supportive peers can be a critical resource during challenging times.

Fellowship meetings offer a comprehensive support system that addresses various aspects of recovery, making them an invaluable resource for individuals striving to overcome addiction.

The different fellowships


Various fellowships cater to different types of addiction and recovery needs, each offering specialised support and community. Here’s an overview of some of the major fellowships:

AA Meetings
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the oldest and most well-known recovery fellowships, focusing on helping individuals recover from alcoholism. Meetings typically involve sharing experiences, str…

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NA Meetings
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a fellowship for individuals recovering from drug addiction. Similar to AA, NA meetings follow a 12-step programme and provide a supportive environment for members

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CA Meetings
Cocaine Anonymous (CA) specifically addresses recovery from cocaine and other stimulant addictions. CA meetings offer a space for members to discuss their struggles with cocaine addiction, share re…

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DA Meetings
Debtors Anonymous (DA) focuses on individuals struggling with compulsive debiting. DA meetings provide a forum for members to share their experiences with debt, work through the 12 steps

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GA Meetings
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a fellowship for those recovering from compulsive gambling. GA meetings offer a supportive environment where members can share their gambling-related struggles, work thro…

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SLAA Meetings
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) is a fellowship for individuals recovering from sex and love addiction. SLAA meetings offer a supportive environment for members to discuss their struggles wit…

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OA Meetings
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) addresses issues related to compulsive overeating and other eating disorders. OA meetings allow members to share their struggles with food, work through the 12-step progra…

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GraySheeters Anonymous
GraySheeters Anonymous (Gray Sheets) is a fellowship for individuals recovering from food addiction, particularly those who follow the Gray Sheet food plan. Meetings focus on sharing experiences wi…

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Each of these fellowships provides a unique community and tailored support system, helping individuals address their specific addictions and work towards long-term recovery.

Maximising the usefulness of a fellowship meeting

To maximise the benefits of fellowship meetings and make the most out of your recovery journey, consider the following tips:

  • Regular attendance: Consistency is key to building strong relationships and staying committed to your recovery journey. Attend meetings regularly to stay connected with your support network and to maintain accountability.
  • Active participation: Engage actively in meetings by sharing your experiences, thoughts, and feelings. By participating in discussions and activities, you contribute to the group and deepen your understanding of your addiction and recovery process.
  • Listen with openness: Be receptive to the experiences and perspectives shared by other members. Listening attentively can offer valuable insights, empathy, and inspiration. Remain open-minded and non-judgmental, recognising that everyone’s journey is unique.
  • Set goals: Use fellowship meetings as a platform to set and review your personal recovery goals. Sharing your goals with the group can provide accountability and encouragement. Break down larger goals into manageable steps and celebrate your progress.
  • Seek guidance: Take advantage of the wisdom and experience of more seasoned members by seeking guidance and mentorship. Consider finding a sponsor or a trusted peer who can offer support, guidance, and accountability outside of meetings.
  • Practice self-reflection: Use fellowship meetings as an opportunity for self-reflection and introspection. Take time to assess your progress, identify areas for growth, and reflect on any challenges or setbacks you may have encountered.
  • Utilise resources: Use the resources and literature provided by the fellowship. Reading recovery-related literature, working through workbook exercises, and attending workshops or seminars can complement your meeting attendance and deepen your understanding of addiction and recovery principles.
  • Stay connected: Foster connections with fellow members outside of meetings by attending social events, participating in service opportunities, or joining online support groups. Building a supportive network of peers can provide additional encouragement and accountability.
  • Practice gratitude: Cultivate an attitude of gratitude by acknowledging and appreciating the progress you’ve made in your recovery journey. Expressing gratitude during meetings or through personal reflection can uplift your spirits and reinforce your commitment to sobriety.
  • Be patient and persistent: Recovery is a journey that takes time, effort, and persistence. Be patient with yourself and the process, and don’t be discouraged by setbacks or challenges. Stay committed to your recovery goals, trust in the process, and lean on your support network for guidance and encouragement.

Find your local meetings

Local fellowship meetings can be found through several resources. Online directories, such as the official websites, often have searchable meeting directories. Additionally, community centres, churches, and hospitals frequently host fellowship meetings, providing accessible locations for individuals seeking support. National and local helplines can also be valuable resources, offering information about meetings in your area and guiding individuals toward the support they need. Moreover, online communities and social media groups may provide information about local meetings, connecting individuals with like-minded peers on their recovery journey.

Fellowship meetings serve as a cornerstone of the recovery journey for many individuals struggling with addiction. These meetings are crucial in helping people achieve and maintain sobriety by providing a supportive and understanding environment. Within fellowship meetings, participants can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and develop strategies for coping with addiction. The camaraderie and mutual aid foster a community where individuals feel accepted and supported, reducing feelings of isolation and offering hope for a brighter future.

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