The evidence is only anecdotal: The heaviest influx of new members to 12-step program is in early January. The holidays, especially New Year's Eve festivities, are usually the tipping point. I can testify to that. One man I encountered at a beginner's table was canary yellow. Trying to reach out, I said, "You're new, welcome." He asked, "How did you know?"
The good news is the physical and emotional bottom generated by the holidays can be the beginning of hope. Most substance abusers had lost that, along with themselves, years before they decided to check out 12-step programs.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which started in the late 1930s, is a well-organized program, with meetings around the world and when going around it such as in cruise ships. To find out where and when those meetings are, just get on the Internet and key in "Alcoholics Anonymous." Soon enough there will be listings of meetings to click on. Many towns also have live call centers to contact for information about meetings or to just talk. They are manned by recovered substance abusers. The phone numbers are listed in the phone book and frequently on the web.
Those timid about meetings in their own town can take refuge across borders. There are central Connecticut residents who drove to Warwick, Rhode Island for their first several meetings. When they decided to risk encountering folks they knew in CT, they eventually told us about their early travels.
The best way to slide in and nose around? Actually there are two. One is to locate beginner meetings. At them are all the immediate tools the newcomer needs, ranging from information literature to access to a temporary sponsor, if such human help seems useful. Everything in the program is a suggestion, not a mandate. The second way to get a handle on recovery is the speaker meeting. There someone with at least three months sober talks about (i.e. gives testimony) about how it was, what the bottom was, and how it is now. Identifying with those speakers is what helps those on the fence recognize that they too might journey on a very different path from their present one if they try out a 12-step program.
For those involved with the problems of the substance abuser there are Alanon meetings, also based on the 12 steps. Through those groups they find out how they got into the pickle of dealing with a substance abuser in the first place.