Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings: What to Expect on Your First Meeting

According to a Stanford University researcher, Alcoholics Anonymous remains the most effective path to sobriety for most alcoholics.

Since it first came about in 1935, AA has grown to welcome millions of members across 180 nations and hosts hundreds of thousands of meetings every year.

So, if you’ve recently emerged from a recovery center or want to turn your life around, it would seem AA is a way to find ongoing sobriety. Are you delaying attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings due to a fear of the unknown?

Here’s what to expect when you attend your first meeting.

Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Are Open to Everyone

You don’t need to sign up anywhere to attend an AA meeting. The only requirement for admission is a desire to stay sober. 

You’ll find information about meetings online or in your local newspaper. Your church, local social workers, or any branch of AA will gladly give you the necessary details, too. 

There are two types of AA meetings:

  • Closed meetings for anyone who wants to get sober
  • Open meetings are available to anyone interested in learning more

No matter who you are, your local branch of AA will welcome you at their next meeting.

AA Meetings Are Free

To promote alcohol recovery, AA does not charge a membership fee. Each member does contribute whatever they can afford toward a collection at the end of the meeting, though.

This money goes toward paying for tea and coffee at the meeting and paying for AA coins. Many members will also provide cakes or cookies from time to time.

None of these contributions are compulsory or expected, and you aren’t allowed to pay toward the kitty on your first visit.

Meeting Formats

There are two main types of AA meeting formats, but overall, their structure is fluid and versatile.

The first type of meeting involves a speaker or a reading from AA literature, with ad-hoc input from the audience afterward. A round-robin format is often easiest for newcomers.

The round-robin format starts with a passage from the Big Book or other Alcoholics Anonymous literature. Then, everyone present at the meeting gets a chance to add their input about the reading or share life experiences related to it.

You don’t need to speak, you can just listen, and you don’t have to introduce yourself as an alcoholic. 

AA Milestones

Alcoholics Anonymous supports its members by awarding AA chips to commemorate sober milestones. These come in 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year denominations, but your group can award tokens for any timeframe they decide to.

The Token Shop website features some informative articles about these AA mementos. 

Typically, the group will hold special meetings to commemorate members who’ve achieved lengthy abstention from alcoholism. At these meetings, the member will share their life story and their AA recovery journey with the group.

Speaking at these events isn’t compulsory, but sharing your story is an important part of your recovery, and you’ll find it a rewarding experience.

Start Your Journey Today

The best way to discover the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is to attend one yourself. You’ll find the participants welcoming and laid back, and leave there with a sense of well-being.

Members leave the ball in your court when it comes to future attendance. The usual mantra is, ‘keep coming back’, and you should do just that if you want to embrace ongoing sobriety.

Would you like some more good advice about living your life to the fullest? Browse our site for the best tips and information on daily living.  

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