Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group for people who wish to stop drinking.
In AA meetings, people share their experience, strength, and hope to their common problem, alcoholism, and help each other to recover.
Getting help for addiction can be a scary time for people, with the first step they take on the road to recovery often being the hardest.
One important thing to remember is that there are no strict rules in the AA meeting. While they all follow a rough guide, depending on where you are located, the type of meeting, what is talked about at the time, and the order of the meeting may change.
With that in mind here’s what you can expect when you attend an AA meeting.
What Happens During an AA Meeting
AA meetings are typically located in community centers, an extended building of church, or other buildings across the world. There will be a room where the meeting is held, usually with chairs or couches for meeting participants to sit. There will probably be people dotted around the room before the meeting starts, some talking, some keeping to themselves, and some enjoying the free coffee provided.
How an AA Meeting Begins
The meeting begins with the chairperson reading the AA preamble, then a group prayer, usually the Serenity Prayers, is said. After this, there may be some readings from AA literature, such as the “Alcoholics Anonymous” book (also called “The Big Book”), and the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” book.
A.A. PREAMBLE© Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are selfsupporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.*
*Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc.
SERENITY PRAYER (Short version)
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference. Amen
Once the opening of the meeting is over, visitors will have a chance to introduce themselves. The chairperson will usually ask if any newcomers want to introduce themselves to the group. While a few may say yes, this is not mandatory and if you are not comfortable with doing this then you won’t be forced to.
Sharing During an AA Meeting
One of the most well-known parts of an AA meeting is the sharing portion. People who want to share their day usually begin with “Hello, my name is... and I’m an alcoholic”, to which everyone responds with “Hello (first name)”. Then the person shares on the topic or whatever they need to about recovery.
When sharing their story people often talk about how they got into drinking, how being an alcoholic has affected their lives, and how AA has worked for them.
They may talk about their families or friends, or people they’ve hurt through their drinking. It’s very important to remember that AA is a judgment-free space, so while you may hear some bad things being said, these people are on the path to recovery just as you are.
Supporting and forgiving the actions of others as well as yourself is a vital part of the AA process.
What Happens At The End Of The Meeting
Once time is up, the chairperson may say a few AA-related announcements.
They may ask for everyone to say the Lord’s Prayer or another prayer. If this happens then participants will stand and join hands while reciting the prayer.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. They Kingdom come, Thy Will be done On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil, For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory Forever and ever. Amen
Once the prayer is said the meeting is over. Some people gather and have conversations while the room is being packed up. If it's your first AA meeting, and you introduced yourself at the beginning of the meeting, members may come over to say hello and offer words of encouragement. This is a good time to ask for members' phone numbers so you can call when you need help.
Other Types Of Meetings
Not all AA meetings will follow the same format, so here are some other things that could happen at your meeting.
Step Study Meeting
Some meetings are dedicated Step Meetings. Here the chairperson will announce which of the 12 steps they will be focusing on for this meeting.
After the step chapter is read from the book, participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences about this step and how they found it, or if they have any fears or anxiety about it.
This type of meeting provides more context for the 12 steps and will give you different perspectives from different people.
Speaker meetings are meeting where one person tells their story, usually from the front of the room. An AA member will introduce the speaker at the beginning of the meeting, and the rest of the time the speaker tells what it was like while drinking, what happened to them, and what they are like today.
A desire chip is a chip given to newcomers or someone coming back to the program to show they will try the AA way of life for 24 hours. This chip is an important coin for newcomers and those who need a physical reminder of the commitment they make to themselves to stay sober for 24 hours.
Going to your very first AA meeting can be nerve-racking, with it often being one of the hardest steps you can take on the path to recovery.
But the support they provide will really help make positive changes to your life.
Remember that these people are here to help you be the best person you can be. Whether you keep going or decide it isn’t for you, there will be no judgment so you’re free to make the best decision for yourself.