12 Step group rules

12 Steps Facilitation


7- 12 Step Group Rules


A 12 Step group has rules that must be observed by its participants to enable it to fulfill its objective and function effectively. The 12 Step group rules article offers some membership and group rules to help keep your group unified.


  • Membership rules
  • Group member Rules


To help your group adhere to its primary objective of taking participants systematically through the 12 Steps within a specific time frame, you need to set some rules and criteria for group participants. This is for the greater good of your 12 Step group and ensures its ability to function effectively. Basically, by having rules you are guarding against group members acting in a way that may be detrimental to the objective and progress of your 12 Step group. Setting rules will also help your group members keep their focus on working their 12 Steps.

In accordance with Tradition 3, no one is ever going to be dismissed from a Fellowship meeting for poor attendance, but failing to show up regularly and on time at a group may result in a participant being asked to leave. Unlike Fellowship meetings 12 Step groups have rules that group participants have to observe – or face being dismissed. Along with spelling out when it may be necessary — for the good of the group — to ask a participant to leave, these rules provide members with guidance on how to better work towards the specific objectives of a 12 Step group. Certainly, any participant who hinders the progress of the group or disrupts its functioning may have to get dismissed. To repeat, a meeting of a 12 Step group and a meeting of a Fellowship are two different things.  Whereas in a Fellowship meeting, there is no hierarchy and everyone is on an equal footing in sharing their experience, strength and hope of recovery, a 12 Step group is more like a classroom, where facilitators act like teachers who take the pupils – group participants –systematically through the 12 Steps within a specific time frame.

Setting rules is going to help your group function effectively as a team in the common purpose of working their 12 Steps toward recovery, thereby enabling them to make maximum use of the Step Study Group. Having guidelines will also make it clear to participants your role and function as facilitators and what they need to do to keep up with the group and help it run smoothly. Having guidelines lessens the possibility of group members dropping out of the group because they were not clear from the start what the group was about and what was expected of them. There will be less likelihood of them getting resentful, having unrealistic expectations or finding an excuse to leave the course, thereby missing out on working their 12 Steps and finding recovery.


  • Below is a sample list of 12 Step group Rules, including its Word version, which you can apply as written, or amend to suit your group’s needs and criteria. It is recommended that these Rules be read to the group every couple of week to remind participants of the primary objective and to keep them unified.
  • For the Word version of Group rules, please refer to: 12 Step Group Worksheets



Membership rules

You will be asked to leave the 12 Step group if you:


1) Use any mind-altering substances.

2) Miss more than 2 sessions in a row.

3) Miss every other session.

4) Regularly fail to complete the homework on schedule for each week.

5) Divert the group from its objective of systematically working through the 12 Steps.

6) In any way disrupt the group’s progress.


Group member rules

  • Trust and anonymity are essential for the survival of this 12 Step group. Please maintain the confidentiality of your fellow group members.
  • We have gathered in unity to work our 12 steps to save our lives and recover. Do not allow minor or personal issues among yourselves to distract you from this purpose. Instead, keep your focus on the common solution we are working towards.
  • The meetings start and end promptly at the assigned hour. Tardiness and or leaving early disrupts the group and are not recommended.
  • Keep your focus – and any comments, questions, or observations – on issues pertaining specifically to the Steps. Bringing up unrelated issues during the Step Study Group sessions is a distraction – and a disservice to your fellow participants. Anyone who does this regularly may be asked to leave.
  • Do not interrupt the facilitators or argue with one another during the sessions. Address any questions or concerns to the facilitators only and at the end of the session or afterwards.
  • If you have a problem with a group member or a facilitator, discuss it with one of the facilitators and not among yourselves.
  • Refrain from cross talk, advice giving or judging your group members.
  • Avoid any activity that may disrupt the session, such as eating, making phone calls, texting, etc.
  • Anger, gossip, resentment, manipulation can destroy the group. Endeavor to keep the integrity of the group. Please be mindful and respectful of each group member’s journey and experiences of the Steps.
  • Facilitators cannot act as personal sponsors. It is highly recommended that you have a sponsor, at least during the course of the 12 Step group. If you do not have one, ask your facilitators to help you find one or buddy up and co-sponsor with another group member.
  • Be mindful that facilitators are purely sharing their experience and working knowledge of the 12 Step and may not have the answer to all your questions.
  • Contributions toward paying rent for the venue are equally shared among group participants and facilitators. Note that you do not get your money back if you decide to drop out of the group or are asked to leave.
  • Please respect the 12 Traditions of all Fellowships. Do not promote or publicize your 12 Step group in any Fellowship meeting.

Question or Comment

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