You have decided to take control of your drinking — congratulations! This part of your life can feel overwhelming and even scary at times, but getting support can make the process much easier to manage. Attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting can be an excellent place to begin. But, what should you know before you go?
Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is a worldwide support group that welcomes everyone who has a desire to stop drinking, regardless of socioeconomic status, race, criminal background or any other discriminatory category. In fact, it is a rather inclusive group that welcomes everyone equally and a wonderful substitute of happy hour socializing. In case you are new to Alcoholics Anonymous, do not worry! As long as you have a general idea of what to expect, you should feel as comfortable as possible.
What to Expect at an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting
There are several different things you can expect when you attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. For starters, always keep in mind that it is important to go to at least six different meetings prior to determining if AA is for you or not. That is because each meeting is different, has its own unique vibe, and its own group of individuals. So, if you go to one meeting and it doesn’t click, do not be discouraged. Keep trying out new meetings until you find one that fits.
When you do go to Alcoholics Anonymous, there are a number of things that you can expect, including the following:
- Sober environment — Out of respect for the other recovering alcoholics in the room (as well as yourself) the most important expectation is that you do not show up to a meeting intoxicated. While it does happen, those who do show up under the influence are asked to come back when they are sober. Alcoholics Anonymous is a sober environment and a safe space for those who are working hard to overcome their struggles with active alcoholism, so it is expected that those goals are respected.
- Privacy — The Alcoholics Anonymous name says it all — who and what you see and share there remains anonymous. If you bump into someone you know from outside of the meeting, it is customary to acknowledge them quietly unless you feel like it is appropriate to start a conversation with them. Remember, everyone in Alcoholics anonymous is going through their own battle. Some participants may want to lay low at meetings while others may be more outgoing.
- Themes of meetings — While there are open and closed meetings, further sub-specialties exist like the theme of a meeting. There are discussions, step-meetings, speakers, or discussions about the literature of AA, and more. This information is usually readily available online or within the community, allowing for you to make an educated guess as to which type of meeting may be best for you.
- Sponsorship — All newcomers to Alcoholics Anonymous are encouraged to get a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can help another member of AA through the steps, as well as through the general process of establishing recovery. Usually, sponsors are those who have already completed a good amount of their own personal recovery and who are able to be of support to you when you need. Sponsors are there when you feel like you need extra encouragement, a place to vent, or someone to talk to if you are fearful you may relapse.
- Involvement — Alcoholics Anonymous is a community of individuals who are not only determined to maintain their sobriety, but who are also focused on giving back. One of the best ways that you can give back while in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is by getting involved in some way, shape, or form. This can include bringing a box of donuts to your morning meeting, starting the coffee pot, or volunteering to assist in the execution of the meeting itself. It is not required of you to do anything but show up, however many people find great reward and purpose by getting involved in this capacity.
- Donations — Alcoholics Anonymous has no membership fee or cost, but a donation basket is passed around at all meetings. There is no pressure to to contribute, but if you would like to, many people donate change or a dollar or two.
- Support — One thing that you can expect when going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is to obtain support from other members. While your first few meetings might leave you feeling a little gun shy, soon you should start feeling a bond developing with others in our meeting. This is common, especially because within these meetings, a great deal of emotion is shared. The emotions that are shared are often highly relatable, opening members up to one another.
If you go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and remain steadfast with it, you can expect to gain a strong standing in your recovery. Plus, the more you go, the more benefits you will obtain.
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