5 People to Avoid in Recovery
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5 People to Avoid in Recovery


So you’ve started going to recovery meetings. Congratulations! We know that giving up drugs and alcohol can feel almost impossibly hard at times, but believe us when we tell you it will pay off in the long run. In the meantime, you may be trying to navigate the truly bizarre new world of 12-step meetings. In so doing, you’ve probably found yourself shaking your head after a bunch of weird-ass encounters with some real…characters. Here are a few such characters to watch out for; you’ll be happy you did.

1) The Over-Enthusiast

The over-enthusiast thinks she knows absolutely everything there possibly is to know about Alcoholics Anonymous. She considers herself such an expert because OMG the program absolutely saved her life and she would be dead, absolutely dead, without it, you guys. She likes to gush to anyone who’ll listen about how powerful the 12 steps are and she censors her shares to only “spread the message” of the positive aspects of AA or her life. She jumps on newcomers at every meeting, offering up her number and, of course, her forever friendship. Avoid at all costs, unless you have a thing for annoying suck-up types.

2) The Clinger

Remember that one super-clingy insta-friend who tried to force you to be her best BFF back in grade school? The geeky one who instantaneously latched onto you in the lunchroom one day and then never let you go, calling you all the time and pressuring you to hang out? Yeah? Welp, get ready to fend off those pathetic little oddballs again. Don’t fight her; just smile to her face but ignore her calls and texts—unless you want someone you’re not having sex with to call you literally five times a day to “check in.”

3) The Thumper

Big Book Thumpers are legendary in AA and they’re kind of a mixed bag. Some people love them, some people love to hate them. They’re loosely linked to the Over-Enthusiast above, but this breed of Annoying Person is more directly linked to the Big Book. Thumpers like to brag about having memorized tons of passages from AA literature and they tend to get really uppity and sanctimonious about rules and what is and isn’t acceptable in the rooms (for instance, whether psych meds are “allowed”). They’re AA traditionalists who try to push their narrow 12-step worldview as the end-all, be-all path of sobriety, but you don’t have to listen.

4) The 13th-Step Perv

Never encountered a gross, lecherous, probably-older weirdo staring at you throughout meetings, then harassing you for your number or your email address with vague offers of “meeting for coffee” or “showing you the ropes”? No? Consider yourself lucky, but don’t expect to remain uninitiated for long. 13-steppers are, yes, pervs who’ve been in the program a while but still try their damnedest to sleep with newcomers (an unofficial no-no in 12-step-land). Trust us, you don’t want to get involved…unless you realllllllly want the illustrious street cred of having an STI.

5) The Chronic Relapser

This one is slightly controversial because repeat relapsers could usually use some loyal friends as they leap in and out of the program, perpetually promising to be, like, super-into it for real this time. Have empathy for them, of course;  some of them are great people. But keep in mind that these types can make for flaky friends. If you’re like me, you’ll probably find yourself feeling disappointed and frustrated by their ongoing struggles to stay sober. Codependent sorts are drawn to these folks like ants to honey; don’t follow suit unless you’re ready to ride along on their roller-coaster.

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and CNN.com. Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.