So you’ve been thinking about going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but you’re wondering what exactly to expect. You may also be wondering if it is worth your time, or if it will even help at all. Read on to find out a little more about AA and what their meetings and program are like.
Types of AA meetings
Some AA chapters hold “open” meetings, which means anyone, even those that don’t have a drinking problem, are welcome to attend. Many other meetings are closed and allow only those with an alcohol problem. There may also be special AA chapters that hold meetings for men or women only, or for other groups. Contact your local chapter of AA to find more details about times and places for meetings, as well as any restrictions or special groups they may have. One thing all AA groups have in common is that they don’t have membership fees or dues.
The part of AA meetings that we often see in the movies is when a new member comes for the first time to a meeting, they are supposed to stand up and say “Hello, I am (so and so), and I am an alcoholic.” Newcomers are indeed welcomed and sometimes given a round of applause for taking the steps to join AA and deal with their alcoholism.
Members are encouraged to speak at meetings about their experiences, but group leaders generally try to keep the focus of the meeting on drinking and recovery, and members are discouraged from “crosstalk”, or responding to someone else’s comment or story. The chairperson may read parts of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and at times a chapter will do a step study, where they learn in more detail about the Twelve Steps of AA. Guest speakers may be brought in to talk on a certain subject pertaining to alcoholism or treatment.
One of the things that makes AA successful is the sponsor program. Individuals that have been sober for usually a year or longer are encouraged to sponsor a newer member. These partners provide moral support and encouragement for each other and can reassure each other when times get tough. Just to know there is a friend out there that has been through what you are going through and is willing to talk and help you out, is great comfort to a recovering alcoholic. AA holds that a recovering alcoholic should never consume any alcohol; that total abstinence is necessary to avoid going back to the addiction. The sponsor program allows someone that is feeling the craving to drink to call their sponsor and receive encouragement to stay sober.
Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions of people over the years to stay sober. Often, alcoholics that have gone through treatment and are clean are encouraged to attend AA meetings weekly or monthly for the rest of their life in order to stay sober. For many, their AA group becomes like family, and the bond between members grows as the years go on.