Conducting a Group Inventory

Groups evolve just as recovering individuals evolve. Things that may have worked for the group in its early years may no longer work. Rather than resorting to criticism and judgment, sometimes an objective inventory and a few changes are all that is needed. We remember to place principles before personalities, and aim for progress not perfection.

It is important for meetings to stay healthy and fresh. Just as individual COSA members benefit from a regular sobriety check-in or inventory, so do meetings. Conducting a group inventory will help group members bring unresolved issues to the group for discussion and identify areas where the meeting can grow.

As a means of helping each group conduct an inventory, the following questions may be used to identify what needs to change, but also remember to celebrate what is working. As with all meetings and Group Conscience discussions, we practice safe communication* and honor the input of each member of the group. We pay careful attention to the Twelve Traditions when conducting a group inventory. COSA individual recovery depends in large part upon the support of a healthy, Higher Power-directed group.

Dynamics Within Our Group

  1. Are our members respectful of each other? (Please refer to the COSA Guidelines for Safe Communication*.) Are we all invited to participate in the meeting and also in the Group Conscience decisions?

  2. Are we a fellowship of equals? Are some looked to as COSA experts? What might be some ways to avoid imbalance or dominance in the group?

  3. Do we share experience, strength, and hope or do we engage in advice-giving or crosstalk? (Crosstalk means talking to, talking about, or talking with someone else during the meeting.) If the latter is true, how might we redirect our group toward healthy communication?

  4. Are newcomers given a warm welcome and an introduction to the program and COSA literature? Do we make COSA literature available at the meeting?

  5. Are our members working the Steps? If not, can we identify some ways to encourage this?

  6. Are our members aware of and able to apply the Traditions? If not, can we identify some ways to encourage this?

Behaviors/Skills of Individuals Outside the Group

  1. Do we focus on our own recovery or do we spend a lot of time talking about the addict? What are some ways to stay solution-oriented?

  2. Do we know and honor the principles of anonymity? Do we actively and respectfully listen to one another?

  3. Do we use phone/email lists? Do we have a way of staying connected and supporting one another between meetings?

  4. Are members willing to be involved in service at the group level and beyond? Do we have a Delegate?

Relationships to Other COSA Groups

  1. Does our group belong to an Intergroup and actively participate? If not, would we benefit from connecting with other COSA groups?

  2. Is our group honoring the Seventh Tradition and supporting our meeting group financially? Do we also donate to the ISO of COSA which provides our materials, literature, support, and convention? Is our group staying connected with the ISO of COSA?

*Guidelines for Safe Communications

  1. We respect others and ourselves in the group by using the safety guidelines.

  2. We use “I” or “we” statements. We avoid blaming and shaming, button pushing, case building and the taking or sharing of another person’s inventory*.

  3. We practice active listening, especially when in meetings.

  4. We respectfully allow others to have the floor. We do not interrupt others.

  5. We remain present when others are addressing the group.

  6. We end meetings on time to allow people to attend to their personal needs.

  7. We agree that one person at a time has the floor.

  8. We wait until the speaker is finished, before raising our hands or if by phone, asking to be recognized by the Leader to speak.

  9. We ask for clarity and use mirror feedback if we are uncertain about what the speaker is saying.

  10. We avoid triangulating with others by practicing direct communication.

  11. We say what we mean, mean what we say, and we do not say it meanly. When we say how we feel, what we think, and what we like or dislike, we use care and concern for the relationships within our group.

  12. We accept that we will have disagreements.

  13. We accept that there are many right answers.

  14. We speak in polite voices. We do not use yelling, intimidation, or sarcasm.

  15. We agree to keep our language clean.

  16. We table issues when emotions run high, for a period, beginning with 15 minutes, or until the next meeting.

  17. We commit to return to discussion of tabled issues at a specific mutually acceptable time.

  18. We own our responsibility for our own feelings and triggers. We contain ourselves.

  19. We agree that all of us are equally responsible for the relationships within the group. (See Traditions: 2 – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. 4 – Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or COSA as a whole.)

  20. We agree to show up, speak our truths, and then, turn over the outcomes to our HP as expressed in our Group Conscience.

*Taking inventory = honesty about only your own defects of character; acceptance that “the problem” is within yourself without blaming others.