What Is a Home Group and Why Do I Need One?

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I’ve heard it said that “Home is the place where you have to go, and they have to take you.” For many of us in addiction recovery, whether as addicts or their loved ones, there’s a lot of baggage around “having” to go home and “having” to be accepted there.

So when we hear the term “home group,” we might conjure up the negative associations we might have with the word “home,” such as keeping shallow obligations or being hurt by people who don’t really affirm our value as God’s beloved children.

However, your recovery home group can be a place where we get to rewrite all the more unfortunate definitions we have of the word “home.”

A home group is a meeting you attend regularly for a long period of time. How you define “regularly” and “long period of time” is between you and God. Some people walk into their first meeting and feel so “at home” that they never even contemplate trying other meetings. Most others try several meetings before getting that experience where they just “click” with the regulars. Then there are many who have more than one “home group,” whether that’s between different fellowships (for instance, having one AA home group and one NA home group) or between different meeting times and places within the same fellowship. Your home group might be in-person, by phone, by videoconferencing, or a hybrid of any of those formats.

Identifying your home group might not be as simple as “feeling it.” We all know that, as addicts, we sometimes run away from the people, places, and things that are good for us. It’s going to be nearly impossible to find a home group if you don’t attend meetings consistently. Even then, if you have been attending meetings consistently for a while but still can’t identify one that gives you that not-quite-describable feeling of belonging—sure, it might be because that’s not the right meeting for you, but it could also be because you are not making yourself at home.

The reasons we might shy away from connecting with a home group are the very reasons most of us need one.

Part of establishing our recovery involves replacing harmful habits with helpful ones. When we structure our schedules around attending the same meeting at the same time and place every week, we build the momentum that keeps us progressing toward recovery, especially in those times when we really don’t want to.

A home group misses you when you’re gone. A home group misses your voice when you’ve been silent too long. Should we hit a patch where we do stop coming to meetings, our home group members are likely to miss us and reach out.

When we share our recovery developments over the course of weeks and months with the same people, they get to know our story, and we get to know theirs. Between the camaraderie and the anonymity 12-step recovery provides, having a home group makes the practice of rigorous honesty that much less of a jump.

Since we are advised to find a sponsor who has the type of recovery we want, it’s a lot easier to find that person when, in our home group, we’ve heard their shares and seen their attitude toward service over the course of weeks, months, or years. Also, should a particular sponsor’s approach no longer be a good fit for our recovery needs, our home group is often the best place to start looking for a new one.

While sponsors are great, they’re just as human as the rest of us. They can’t be available all the time. When we have a home group, we have many people who know our story without our having to rehash details when we are in need of on-the-spot support but a sponsor is not available.

When we become comfortable with a home group, we get a good sense not just of the people but of how that meeting is run. We get to see how their meetings open and close. We get to know how the chairs get set up and put away. We know where the bathroom is and where to find the coffee. This makes performing service to this group a lot easier, which helps us get outside of our own heads and into the connections that are the antidote to addiction.

There’s also what I can only call the “healthy family feeling” that a home group provides. A home group provides us with space to not know everything, to make mistakes, receive forgiveness, and participate in amends. Perhaps, just as importantly, a home group lets us see that others make mistakes and are capable of owning them, correcting them, and repairing relationships moving forward.

Finally, there’s just nothing like showing up at a meeting, seeing people’s eyes light up when they see your face, and hearing people joyfully call your name. It’s a little foretaste of what God has in store for us when we reach our heavenly home with Him.

When you find your home group, you will have to go there because you long to go there, and they’ll have to take you, because without you, something special is missing.

Do you have a home group yet? Visit CIR’s list of in-person and virtual meetings to get started. 

Erin McCole Cupp is grateful to be recovering from compulsive overeating, binge eating behaviors, and developmental and betrayal trauma. She writes and speaks about mental health and addiction recovery from a Catholic perspective. Check out her course “Filled with Good: Theology of the Body for Food Addicts” at erinmccolecupp.podia.com.