Abstinence. Personal Empowerment. Support. Inclusiveness. www.freestylerecovery.org.
Freestyle Recovery meetings are celebrations!
Freestyle Recovery meetings are hosted by solidly clean-and-sober volunteers who are generally former substance abusers and addicts. This and a desire to help others are the only requirements. We welcome facilitators who are also professional counselors with experience in treating substance use disorders, but we ask that you leave your badge at the door. Meeting participants may be following widely different paths, and all need to feel empowered to set their own course.
There are no official formats for Freestyle Recovery meetings, and the meeting format is up to the facilitator and the meeting participants. In keeping with our name, Freestyle Recovery leaves this up to you! The only policy is adherence to our Four Foundations Stones: Abstinence,Personal Empowerment,Support and Inclusiveness. We can however suggest some formats that work well for most people.
Round The Room: Participants take turns sharing recovery-related highlights of their days or weeks or months, talking as friends with "cross-talk" encouraged. Everyone should be respectful and mindful that other people in the room are following different paths to similar goals. No one is required to share, and anyone who just wants to listen may simply pass to the next person. We learn from others, about alternatives and about ourselves, by sharing and participating in groups like this.
Topic Meeting: The facilitator may set a recovery-related topic in consultation with the group, and ask people their opinions on the topic. This type of meeting can generate excellent discussions, but generally requires more work and preparation on the part of the facilitator. Again, no one is required to share, and anyone can choose to just listen and absorb.
Readings Meeting: The facilitator may choose a recovery-related article or opinion piece, in print or online, in consultation with the group, and ask people for their opinions on the article. This type of meeting can also generate excellent discussions, but generally requires even more work and preparation on the part of the facilitator. As always, no one is required to share, and anyone can choose to just listen and absorb.
Speaker Meeting: The facilitator may ask someone, in the group or outside of it, professional or not, to come speak to the group about a particular recovery-related topic following consultation with the group. This can be an excellent occasional format, if the speaker is good, though it does not lend itself very well to online meetings.
What tend not to work well are formats that presume participation in any particular outside support group, for example stepwork progress in a 12-step program. This would be absolutely appropriate as an individual share in a Round the Room meeting, but not so appropriate as a Freestyle Recovery meeting format.
Most formats, except perhaps the Speaker Meeting, work best if participants sit in a circle and face each other as equals. In online meetings, it's up to the facilitator to decide how to organize shares. Whatever the format, the goal is for everyone in the room to leave energized about their recoveries, and feeling a little bit more empowered to keep going!
If a group wishes to pass a hat for donations, that's up to the group. If so, we encourage facilitators to spend the collected donations on the group first! Pay for coffee and snacks, pay for a pizza party, pay for a picnic, whatever you like that goes back to the group and helps the participants while building bonds of support and friendship. Donations to cover organizational costs are always welcome, but are not required. If you have extra money left over, consider spending it on expanding Freestyle Recovery at the local grassroots level! Motivated individuals who care are how we grow to help more people.
All Freestyle Recovery meetings, online and face-to-face, are independent and autonomous, and need only follow our foundational beliefs in abstinence, personal empowerment, support and inclusiveness. We do not police meetings except where these foundational beliefs are being violated, and individual facilitators are responsible for keeping meetings safe and celebratory. We believe local issues are best left up to local participants, and that this itself is a kind of personal empowerment.