Statistically, your personality type doesn’t have much bearing on whether you’ll be an addict or alcoholic. Introverts and extroverts experience problems with substance abuse across the board. But your willingness to engage in social gatherings can definitely affect your success in AA as an introvert, and therefore your long term recovery. In that sense, introverts should tread carefully.
Avoiding social groups like Alcoholics Anonymous is detrimental to long term sobriety, period. Although it’s hard for some introverts to get past the group dynamic of AA, it’s important to accept that your contained head space as a recovering addict is not safe. You cannot navigate your recovery alone. A support network is crucial regardless of whether you’re a gregarious socialite or a proud hermit. Here are six tips that will help recovering introverts integrate themselves into an AA community successfully.
Tip #1: Being Introverted Doesn’t Mean You’re Shy
These tips only mean something if an individual accepts that achieving them is not only possible, but that the end goal is also worthwhile and enjoyable. Being shy often means that you are not comfortable in a room full of a lot of people sharing
A person who tends to turn inward mentally. They are more sensitive to outward stimuli such as loud conversation and other noises. Although introverts may avoid large groups of people, they don’t necessarily dislike social interactions. In fact, introverts often display a penchant for eloquent language and their contributions are appreciated by others.
Some successful self-proclaimed introverts include: Gandhi, Michael Jordan, JK Rowling, Elon Musk, and Emma Watson.
A trait that introverts may or may not display. Shyness indicates that a person is uncomfortable interacting with strangers, and would rather avoid social interaction. Living more in your own head or being more of a quiet person does not mean you’re shy.
Shyness can be kept at bay with tips #3 and #5, so read on!
Tip #2: Seek Out Your Demographic
Enjoy this stage while it lasts, but don’t dwell on it too long. It’s important to actually go to the meetings you’re looking through!
That said, you can save a lot of time and frustration by seeking out like-minded individuals who will appreciate and even share the unique struggles you go through. Although most AA groups accept all individuals who are seeking to get sober, there are some that only allow certain populations. Some examples are:
- Gender-Specific AA Groups
- Age-Specific AA Groups
- Topic-Specific AA Groups
- Language-Specific AA Groups
- Occupation-Specific AA Groups
The best way to find these meetings is to search your area’s online AA meeting finder. Here are some local databases:
If you live outside the area, just Google the phrase “[your county> aa meetings” with your county or state. Most databases will list the name of each meeting and whether it has population restrictions (i.e. “stag meeting” means men only). Note that these online databases do not list every meeting in your area, so you may want to ask around at open meetings to get word of mouth references. Throwing a general feeler out to the group during the meeting is totally okay. Trying saying something like, “If anyone knows of any meetings specifically for young adults in the area, please see me after and let me know, thanks.” The AA community is all about helping people help themselves, so you’ll likely get a good response.
Tip #3: Set & Monitor Your Intention
Change only happens if you let it. As an introvert myself, I was certainly guilty of some close-mindedness when I first started going to AA meetings. I kept talking myself out of being present at the meeting by thinking, “Ugh, this is such a bad fit for my personality type. I don’t like being around so many people at once like this.” Luckily, my rehab program had a meeting card requirement, and over time I began to make friends and see the value of AA. Somewhere down the line, it transitioned from being a chore to something I looked forward to.
Introverts live more in their own head space than extroverts by definition. But we do have control over the narrative in that space. Setting your intention simply means going into AA with an open mind; monitoring it means reserving judgment. Some people find it helpful to have visual reminders of their intention. Here are a few suggestions for monitoring your intention as you go through AA (and your recovery in general):
- Change your phone screen to the AA logo. It’s not instantly recognizable to people outside of the program, so you won’t be outed if someone borrows your phone.
- Wear the serenity prayer either as a wrist wrap or necklace. There are plenty out there to fit your personal style.
Tip #4: Make it a Habit to Sample Lots of Meetings
Also known as “biting the bullet.” The trick to this tip is setting a routine. When sampling meetings becomes automated and mechanical, the process of finding the right meetings also becomes less of a chore. There is lot of great reference material on how to set good habits in AA as an introvert, but the shorthand of it is:
- Dedicate a specific amount of time to the activity per week.
- Mark it on your calendar if that helps. Writing things down gives many people a sense of accomplishment.
- Avoid thinking about it too much beforehand. Don’t dread it, just do it.
- Focus on the patterns that shape every aspect of your life. Read More ›
Tip #5: Shove the Thinker into the Spotlight
It’s beneficial for many introverts to identify the thinker so its sentiments can be outed in meetings. The thinker is just a personification of the way our minds run away with thoughts and over-analyze situations. Although all of us have one to a degree, introverts’ thinkers tend to be hyperactive. This can be detrimental in recovery, and thinkers are largely responsible when relapse occurs.
Pushing the thinker into the spotlight means verbalizing all of your thoughts in AA meetings as an introvert. There is no shame in speaking out; that’s the purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s a safe space where your thinker’s alcoholic thoughts are shared and appreciated by others in the room. In this way, introverts can integrate into meetings by spotlighting problems that are normally kept to themselves.
Tip #6: Keep Calm and Shove On – AA as an Introvert
Recovery is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Don’t burn out by going to so many meetings that you become sick of them; rather, set aside a few hours each week to devote to meetings. Work it into your schedule. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Over time, it’ll become a safe haven rather than an obligation.
If you or someone you love is ready to get help, call our admissions staff for detox and residential care: 855-737-7363