What Is An AA Meeting? What Happens At This Gathering

AA meetings exist to help people with alcohol addiction to stop drinking and stay sober. There are many types and formats of the sessions to enable everyone to feel included and receive the support they need. Since alcohol abuse can frequently get overwhelming, it’s crucial to learn how to find an AA meeting, what to expect from the program, and how to get started.

Learn About AA Meetings:

What Is An AA Meeting?

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings aim to gather people who wish to stop abusing alcohol and achieve long-standing recovery. These meetings feature individuals who have been sober for years, as well as those who are still struggling to quit drinking. There are no limits or requirements to who can join except for a desire to defeat their addiction and lead a healthier lifestyle. At these meetings, people can give and receive support, gain information, and develop friendly social bonds to help them stay determined and inspired.

Types Of AA Meetings

AA meeting format differs from group to group, and it is important to choose the right approach for each individual. Alcoholics Anonymous gatherings share the same ideology and hold anonymity and respect in the highest regard.

Open Meetings

AA open meetings invite everyone willing to observe how the program functions. Those who struggle with alcohol abuse, families, friends, medical professionals, and other members of the local community can come to an AA open meeting, although only the members are allowed to speak.

Closed Meetings

People who wish to have more privacy should research what a closed AA meeting is. Closed gatherings allow only members to participate and thus provide a supportive and understanding environment.

Topic/Discussion Meetings

During discussion meetings, the participants talk about a specific chosen topic that doesn’t necessarily center around alcohol abuse. AA meeting topics have a broad range and act to encourage the attendees to think about their issues in a new light.

Speaker Meetings

A speaker AA meeting features a person who has overcome alcohol addiction themselves or possesses other inspirational knowledge from personal experience.

Panel Presentation

During a presentation, an Alcoholics Anonymous group selects several members to speak in front of various healthcare professionals to educate them about the program.

Literature Discussion

This type of AA meeting revolves around discussing the text of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book by Bill W. The book describes the recovery process and the value of AA programs.

Question And Answer

During this type of AA meeting, members are free to ask the coordinator of the group any questions. Sometimes, the participants write the questions on pieces of paper for the coordinator to address.

12-Step Study

This format of the gatherings focuses on exploring a single step in the 12-step program. Such AA meetings are usually closed.


Online AA Meetings

Numerous organizations offer AA meetings online, as well as in person. For many people struggling with alcohol abuse, it is immensely difficult to start moving towards recovery. Some may lack the motivation, time, or ability to attend a local meeting. Others may simply feel more comfortable with online interaction than face-to-face conversations.

Online Alcoholics Anonymous meetings occur in private chat rooms and applications, relieving a person from the necessity to leave their home or even show their faces. No personal data must be disclosed to join. It’s enough to find online an AA meeting schedule and start engaging with other people.

How To Join AA Meetings

The first step to join the program is to find AA meetings in the person’s vicinity. Since these groups are gathered by different organizations, the individual can explore several options before discovering the community they like the most. Many services allow a person to search for nearby AA meetings by zip code or region. After getting the time and date, the person can simply come to the gathering without any prior registration.

What To Expect From AA Meetings

To feel comfortable, it is also important to know what happens at an AA meeting. The atmosphere is usually kind and informal. Participants can come in at any time during the meeting, but they should be mindful not to disrupt the conversation. Depending on the format, the attendees are given a topic to discuss or can simply share their issues, stories, and concerns. No one is required to speak, but everyone is welcome to do so.

How Anonymous Are AA Meetings?

Many people hesitate to attend Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings to talk about their alcohol abuse because of privacy concerns. This fear inhibits the recovery of numerous individuals. The primary focus of AA meetings is, therefore, complete anonymity. Members are prohibited from revealing the identities of other participants, and any disclosure is entirely voluntary. Attendees can share their experiences, feelings, and stories, but they are never pressured to do so.

At the same time, it is important to understand that members’ behavior outside the meetings is not always possible to control. Local AA meetings also present an additional hazard of being discovered by someone from a person’s social circle. The risks are usually negligible, and an individual should discuss any doubts they might have with the organization’s coordinator or the person’s counselor before discarding this option.

The Effectiveness Of AA Meetings

AA meetings are incredibly effective in helping people reduce the consumption of alcohol and achieve complete abstinence. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reports that more than 2 million people from 150 countries are members of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. The same report indicates that participants display an 87.5% abstinence rate over a period of two years. In comparison, only 21.2% of individuals who are enrolled in a regular 12-step program succeed in staying sober.

The effectiveness of the program largely depends on how much time a person spends attending the gatherings. The most beneficial AA meeting schedule should include at least 3 meetings per week. This rate of attendance tends to result in complete abstinence, although the benefits are prominent even for those who participate occasionally or rarely.

Although alcohol abuse frequently requires medical intervention to treat, having an opportunity to speak to someone with the same issue is crucial. When a person has the support, encouragement, and sufficient emotional outlet, the recovery stops being an insurmountable feat. Therefore, finding a local AA meeting and giving it a try can help a person change their life for the better.

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