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Getting Locked Out of Group


 hmullan    Mar 06 : 15:26
 None    Editorials

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there is one rule that will invariably raise more debate than the others. It is a rule that does not sit comfortably with a lot of people.

Locked OutWhenever we go out to a group to teach about CR and we get to the part about the rules, there is one rule that will invariably raise more debate than the others. It is a rule that does not sit comfortably with a lot of people. Can you guess what that rule is? It's the one that states that doors close promptly at x:xxpm (whatever time you group starts). This means that once group starts, the door is closed and anyone coming after this time cannot enter.

This rule more than any other elicits a slew of scenarios and the "What ifs" begin. What if the person tried their hardest to get here but got delayed in traffic? What if they got lost? What if their child was sick and they had to wait for their spouse? Each of these scenarios can be heart wrenching in their own right but none are reasons to change the rule.


Lets first take a look at the purpose of this rule in CR. Why does someone come to CR in the first place? For the most part they come to get help. They want to hear what they have not been hearing outside of CR. The group, if run properly, wants to provide them with that opportunity.

Once group starts those in the room are ready to have group. They have arrived on time, maybe even early. They have their coffee or tea and they are ready to get help. It is important that everyone at the group is focussed on why they are there. For a newcomer that may not be as clear as possible but for the old timers that should not be an issue.

If the group time was not fixed what would happen? If you want to get an idea of this all you have to do is attend an AA or NA meeting or better yet, a church service. At a church service that starts at 10am, it is commom to see people dragging in the door at 10:30, 10:45 or even 11:00. Can you imagine trying to run a group like CR with people coming in whenever they felt like it. It would render the group useless.

As addicts we didn't like rules. We liked things to be so flexible that they would bend any way we wanted. The CR rules can bring a level of discomfort to us because of the inflexibility. However the rules provide a tangible way that we can tell how we are working our recovery. The rules also take power away from the individual. This means that if a person arrives late I don't have to battle with my people pleasing nature to let them in. The rules makes my decision for me. It's not personal, its the rules!

An example of this is a man who was planning to come to group for his first time. When giving him directions, I told him clearly that the doors closed at 8:30pm. That night before CR I get a call from him at 8:27pm that he was on his way. From his location I knew that he would not make it on time and told him to turn back and come the following week.

He insisted that he could make it and by the time he got there the doors were closed. He believed that an exception would be made for him. He went away angry and never returned calls or returned to the group. Obviously this was a man who was not serious about his recovery. How do I know this? Simple. When I went to buy drugs and could not find my dealer, I invariably went back another time. At no point did I ever say "Well that's it! I am done with smoking marijuana 'cos this guy is not here." It simply did not happen.

Unless a person is prepared to put as much effort into their recovery as they put into their using, they will not recover.

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