What to Expect From an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

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What to Expect From an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting

If you have received treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) and are beginning your recovery journey, you will want to look for a support group to help you navigate your newfound sobriety. 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is one of the most common programs people choose. Since 1935 when this group was founded in Ohio, it has helped thousands of people achieve long-term sobriety. Daily meetings are held all over the county, and they even offer the option to attend virtually for those that prefer it. 

Sharing your unique journey with others can be intimidating, and it is normal to feel apprehensive about going into your first meeting. Knowing what to expect beforehand can help ease nerves and prepare you to make the most of your experience. It is also important to remember these people understand addiction firsthand and can be excellent resources for recovery. 

Understanding What AA Is

AA is a free program that welcomes all races, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. Open to the public, people from all walks of life can attend meetings, making it a diverse and safe space for sharing. The only requirements are the desire to quit drinking and the commitment to trying. This organization follows a 12-Step program intended to help you live a happy, productive, and meaningful life free of substances. 

While some of the steps do mention a higher power, by no means do you have to be religious to participate. You do not need to sign up for an open meeting ahead of time; you can simply show up. Some meetings are considered closed to the public because they are for AA members only. 

Those you will encounter at an AA meeting range in stages of recovery. Some people may have many years of sobriety under their belts, while others may be new to recovery. Others may still be actively engaging in substance use but are interested in becoming sober

AA meetings are entirely confidential and the environment is free of judgment. It is highly recommended that you attend meetings regularly. The frequency in which you attend depends on what you are comfortable with. 

The Structure of an AA Meeting 

The format of an AA meeting can vary slightly depending on which session you attend. Generally, you can expect a fairly similar format to follow for the most part, regardless of which meeting you attend. 

If you decide to participate in an in-person meeting, the first thing you are likely to notice is a group of chairs arranged in a circle. If the meeting has not started yet, you will probably spot some attendees mingling around the coffee and snack station. During this time, you are free to find a seat in the circle or spark conversation with others in the meantime. 

Once the meeting starts, one person will typically lead and keep things flowing smoothly. They will begin by introducing themselves and initiating the Serenity Prayer to be read aloud by the group. The leader will then allow any newcomers to introduce themselves. Next, some form of AA literature will be read aloud, which could be content from “The Big Book” or “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.” Sometimes a designated or guest speaker will lead the discussion. 

During each meeting, all individuals will have the opportunity to share their stories. You are free to share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. You can discuss your struggle with addiction, how your addiction impacted those around you, and what struggles you may be experiencing in recovery. You may also share milestones you are celebrating along the way. Lastly, the meeting will close with any important announcements followed by The Lord’s Prayer said aloud. 

After you become more comfortable with the process, you will likely choose a sponsor, or one will be assigned to you. A sponsor is someone who has been sober for a long time that can help guide you along your path of recovery. This person will hold you accountable and provide advice based on their own experience with this journey. 

This will also be who you will turn to at your lowest and when you feel tempted to drink alcohol. In the event that you experience a relapse, they can help you get back on track again and advise on how to repair damage caused by your addiction. 

If you are ready to find an AA meeting in your area, you can search online or ask your medical provider. They will be able to provide you with details about what meetings are available locally, as well as when and where they meet. 

If you’re anticipating going to your first AA meeting, you might feel anxious about not knowing what to expect. Learning what AA is and its usual format ahead of time can make it less intimidating and more empowering to your recovery journey. AA is open to anyone; the only requirement for attending is the desire to stop drinking. AA meetings are entirely confidential, judgment-free, and led by one person who will keep the process flowing and productive. At your first meeting, you’ll be given a chance to introduce yourself and share only the information you are comfortable with regarding your recovery journey. If you are currently struggling with a substance use disorder, our team at The Kimberly Center is here to help you take back control of your life and your relationships. Take the first steps towards living a healthier, happier life free of substances by calling us today at (855) 452-3683.

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