Since the onset of the 12-step recovery programs, there has been a problem for those new to support groups. Many addicts have a history of bad behavior and manipulation, so new members can encounter those whose motives are less than sterling.
The Criminal Element
How to arm newly recovering clients against the possibility of encountering predators in 12-step groups is a challenge. The first thing that should be taught is that they need to know that 12-step groups can include members who are criminals. These addicts may have committed assault, rape, child molestation, burglary, and even murder.
All people are welcomed into 12-step groups because the nature of the program is one of recovery. It is truly believed in these groups that everyone who wishes to recover is a member of the group.
However, being a member of a recovery group does not guarantee that they have changed all of their bad behaviors. Many talk a great game in the meetings, seeming quite charming and spiritually centered, but are still perpetrating great dishonesty.
It must be stressed that everyone should be careful when becoming involved with persons that they do not know. Just because they belong to a group that no longer participates in addictive behavior does not mean that they have ceased all unacceptable activities. Money still gets stolen from the meetings, clubs and members. Cons are perpetrated, and people are assaulted by other members. It is important that new members use discretion and good sound judgment in forming relationships with others in this setting.
Not Suitable for Children
Most importantly, parents need to be extra careful when taking children to meetings. It is sometimes necessary, but should be avoided as much as possible. They are too young for the language that is frequently used, and they are not able to understand the nature of what is happening anyway. Some meetings will ask them to leave, some have childcare arranged with another member. The stories of children who are hurt, molested and exposed to things that are inappropriate for them are abundant.