What To Expect At an AA Meeting?
What can you learn from AA meetings? Topics, Types, Formats & Alcohol Addiction Treatment
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What Is a AA Meeting
There are a variety of formats for A.A. meetings and each meeting takes on the feel of their local area. At most meetings, you will hear members talk about what drinking did to them and those around them. Most also share what actions they took to stop drinking and how they are living their lives today.
The purpose of all meetings is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”
What Is An Open AA Meeting?
As the term suggests, meetings of this type are open to alcoholics and their families and to anyone interested in solving a personal drinking problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem.
Most open meetings follow a more or less set pattern, although distinctive variations have developed in some areas. A chairperson describes the AA program briefly for the benefit of any newcomers to AA in the audience and introduces one, two, or three speakers who relate their personal drinking histories and may give their interpretation of AA.
Midway through the meeting, there is usually a period for local AA announcements, and a treasurer passes the hat to defray costs of the meeting hall, literature, and incidental expenses. The meeting adjourns, often followed by informal visiting over coffee or other light refreshments.
Guests at AA open meetings are reminded that any opinions or interpretations they may hear are solely those of the speaker involved. All members are free to interpret the recovery program on their terms, but none can speak for the local group or AA as a whole.
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What is a Closed Meeting In AA?
These meetings are limited to alcoholics and those who think or know they have a problem with drinking. They provide an opportunity for members to relate their experiences with one another on problems related to drinking patterns and attempts to achieve stable sobriety. They also permit detailed discussion of various elements in the recovery program.
What Do AA Meetings Talk About? What To Expect At an AA Meeting?
During the meeting, people simply begin talking. Each starts off by introducing themselves as, “Hello, my name is (first name) and I’m an alcoholic.” Just as in the movies, everyone responds with, “Hello (first name)!” After they complete their “story” everyone in the room thanks them. Then the next person can speak up.
After everyone completes sharing, the chairperson asks if there are any AA-related announcements. In some cases, they announce that it is time for the Lord’s Prayer, and everyone stands in a large circle, holding hands, and recites the prayer. You do not have to participate in the prayer. Once the prayer is over, the meeting ends.
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Benefits of Attending AA Meetings
If you aren’t sure if you are an alcoholic, find an “open” meeting to attend in your area. Many non-alcoholics may attend these and no one assumes because you are there that you are an alcoholic. People often wait for many meetings before making the decision to introduce themselves as alcoholics and to accept their first chip.
One common practice is that when you introduce yourself to the group as a newcomer and an alcoholic, you will receive a meeting schedule book with the names and numbers of people who you can call if you feel the need to drink and need help.
People who put their number in this book do so because they really do want to help. It isn’t required of anyone to do so but it keeps with the tradition of AA that when alcoholic calls for help, the helping hand of AA will be there.
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What Can You Learn From AA Meetings?
AA is Everywhere
It’s not difficult to find an AA meeting regardless of where you live. Start by searching online for “AA meetings near me.” Depending on your settings, the search engine will return localized results. You can also visit AA.org to find meetings near you. And, if you cannot attend a meeting in person for whatever reason, AA offers online support groups.
If you live near a large city, you can potentially have a dozen or more meetings you can attend. Each one is independently run, too, so you can find a group that works for you. For people who are serious about quitting drinking, it’s reassuring to know that AA groups are literally everywhere.
You are Not Alone
AA is a humbling reminder that you are not alone. Addiction is an isolating disease, so it’s easy to feel abandoned. But, there are others out there who are fighting the same battles. You might feel like an outsider in your family or group of friends, but you will not feel that way at AA. Your group members will be supportive, compassionate and proud of your accomplishments.
You Can Choose a Different Group
Each AA meeting is independently run, which means each one is unique. If you don’t like the current meeting that you attended, try a different one! You might find that you enjoy another group more because of the people in it, the person leading it or the way the meeting is run. Sometimes, it does take a few weeks to settle in with a particular group, so be patient.
Past Mistakes Don’t Define You
Your past experiences shape who you are as a person, but they don’t have to define you. This is something that you will learn about in AA as other members share their stories. Some of these people will have their acts together to the point where you wouldn’t know they struggled with addiction. Just as they’ve moved past their mistakes, so can you.
Giving Back Feels Great
One of the great features about AA is that it forces you to take a look at yourself, the mistakes you’ve made and the people you’ve hurt while removing the guilt associated with it. By working through the steps, you can forgive yourself, make amends with others and move forward in your life.
Not every relationship will be repaired, but there are ways to ease the hurt. One of them is by giving back, something you can do once you are stronger. You might choose to volunteer at a local shelter or donate time to helping seniors. You may even end up sponsoring someone else one day. The key is to serve others and find your purpose in life now that alcohol is not in it.
Who goes to AA meetings? Common Meeting Formats
- Discussion. Whether closed or open, an A.A. member serving as “leader” or “chair” opens the meeting using that group’s format, and selects a topic for discussion. Background for many topic meetings derives from A.A. literature, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, As Bill Sees It, Daily Reflections, and from AA Grapevine.
- Speaker. One or more members selected beforehand “share” — as described in the Big Book — telling “what we were like, what happened, and what we are like now.” Depending on the meeting’s general guidelines (determined by the “group conscience”), some groups prefer that members who speak have a minimum period of continuous sobriety. Speaker meetings often are open meetings.
- Beginners. Usually led by a group member who has been sober awhile, these are sessions to help newcomers. Beginners meetings may also follow a discussion format, or focus on Steps One, Two and Three. (A Guide for Leading Beginners Meetings is available from G.S.O.)
- Step, Tradition or Big Book. Because the Twelve Steps are the foundation of personal recovery in A.A., many groups devote one or more meetings a week to the study of each Step in rotation; some discuss two or three Steps at a time. These same formats may be applied to group meetings on the Big Book or the Twelve Traditions. Many groups make it a practice to read aloud pertinent material from the Big Book or Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions at the beginning of the meeting.
Alcohol Rehab Treatment
When it comes to Alcoholism treatment, it is normal to think of 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab, but it becomes difficult to think of more options of treatment for this condition. In fact, there are a variety of treatment methods currently available. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are three types of treatment:
- Behavioral Treatments for addiction: are aimed at changing drinking behavior through counseling. They are led by health professionals and supported by studies showing they can be beneficial.
- Medication-assisted detox: Three medications are currently approved in the United States to help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. They are prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling.
- Mutual-Support Groups: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs provide peer support for people quitting or cutting back on their drinking. Combined with treatment led by health professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Due to the anonymous nature of mutual-support groups, it is difficult for researchers to determine their success rates compared with those led by health professionals.
Alcoholism is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Alcoholism with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Krentzman, A. R., Robinson, E. A., Moore, B. C., Kelly, J. F., Laudet, A. B., White, W. L., Zemore, S. E., Kurtz, E., & Strobbe, S. (2010). How Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Work: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. Alcoholism treatment quarterly, 29(1), 75–84.