STARTING A C.A. MEETING
Check your local C.A. Meeting list to see where a new meeting might be needed.
Before starting a meeting look around Cocaine Anonymous in your District or Area, are there already meetings? Find out what days they are on and at what times. Find out how well they are attended and what their formats are. Can your District or Area support a new meeting with the membership that exists? Once you have decided that your District or Area can use a new meeting, either at a new day or time, or in a different format, the following will guide you to start a new meeting;
The first step is to find another C.A. member that wants to start a meeting with you! Talk to people you know in C.A. and find out who is interested. Talk to both the “old timers” as they have valuable experience in what works and what doesn’t and talk to the “newcomers” that like you, have that passion for recovery early on. Some of the best meetings are started by newcomers who want more recovery and are supported by the “old timers” with experience!
Decide where and when a new meeting would serve best.
Look for a meeting location. Start with the locations that are already hosting a C.A. meeting, perhaps they have a meeting there another night and will have space on the night you want to start your meeting. It is often easier when there is a pre-existing relationship with the building. If there is no space there, or it is the first meeting in your area, check with local churches, as many of our meetings occur in these facilities and they readily support the work we do. Another good place to start looking for a space are the local Community Organizations, which often rent by the hour to small groups. Look up the churches or Community Organizations and start calling them. Be open about who what Cocaine Anonymous is and how we help addicts that are suffering. Bring some of our literature (pamphlets) with you. Explain how the program works. The average rent for a one hour meeting space is between $15 and $25. Always remember that your new C.A. meeting MUST be fully supporting through the 7th tradition and the rent will have to be paid by what is collected in the basket each meeting. It may be necessary for the members starting that very first meeting to pay in advance for the first nights rent and the initial purchase of coffee and supplies, and be reimbursed by the group after. This is usually a very nominal expense, however, especially split between a few members involved.
Once you have a few C.A. members wanting to start a meeting and have found a suitable location, decide on a start date and book the book the meeting space. It is best to pick a start week at least a couple of weeks away so that there is time to spread the word throughout Cocaine Anonymous as well as, detox’s and treatment centers (talk to your H&I Committee FIRST!) about the new meeting, that way people will know to come that night.
Decide on a meeting format.
Now that the logistics have all been sorted out, the fun begins! Decide on a format for the meeting. Will it be a step meeting, a traditions meeting, a meeting that talks about the principles, sponsorship, or any other aspect of recovery. The C.A. members starting the meeting get to decide. Each group is autonomous, which means the members can decide on ANY format, provided they don’t negatively impact other groups or Cocaine Anonymous as a whole. The Cocaine Anonymous World Service Manual, that can be found on our world website (www.ca.org) website, outlines the basic requirements a group must meet to be called a C.A. meeting, such as not altering the 12 steps or 12 traditions, and being fully self-supporting. As long as these basic guidelines are being met, the format is up to you! Some ideas are;
- Step meeting – Discuss a different step each meeting
- Traditions meeting – Discuss a different Tradition each meeting
- Topic meeting – Members pull a recovery topic from a hat and talk about it
- Hot Seat meeting – A newcomer gets 10 – 15 minutes to share his struggles and then the rest of the members share on how the program can solve them
- Sponsorship meeting – The topic is always some aspect of sponsorship
- Speaker meeting – The meeting is a member sharing their “story”
The list is endless; just try to stay away from taking topics from the floor as these tend to not be recovery focused meetings.
Decide on the readings. What C.A. or Big Book readings will you do at the beginning and end of the meeting? The Cocaine Anonymous readings can be found on the world website, just print them off!
Set the group’s first business meeting, to elect people into service positions and create your group conscience. Contact your World Service Delegates as their role is to support you in starting a meeting and they will guide you through your first business meeting and any other step of the process to start a meeting!
Cocaine Anonymous will help you to get the literature you need to start a meeting. Here is how;
Contact your local District or Area in the city you live in and talk with them about the new meeting. They will bring it to the district meeting, or ask you to come and speak to the district about providing it.
If your district can not provide the literature, they will either put you in contact with the Area body, that may be able to provide the literature.
If the Area for some reason doesn’t exist or is unable to help, your Delegates, will put you in touch with your Cocaine Anonymous World Services and they will send you a meeting starter kit FOR FREE.
Cocaine Anonymous relies on members with the drive and courage to start meetings for the fellowship to remain healthy and grow. Cocaine Anonymous will support you in starting a meeting and will help ensure you have what is needed for the meeting to run!