Home > Treatment & Support > Attending Your First AA Meeting

Attending Your First AA Meeting

By: Leigh Sexton - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Alcoholics Anonymous Aa Meetings Meeting

If you’re an alcoholic, you’re almost certainly going to be advised to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. Some treatment and rehab centres insist on it, sometimes it’s a friend or family member who cajoles, threatens or, if you’re lucky, takes you along. So what is an AA meeting?

AA Meetings

The first thing is that while no two AA groups will be identical, they will all follow a basic format. This is because AA's Fourth Tradition is ‘Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole’ which means that each group sets its own format, but will tend to use a basic template as laid down in the AA approved literature to start and end the meeting.

The general template will be:

  • Call to order by volunteer chairperson who may also read a newcomer’s welcome
  • Chairperson reads the AA Preamble and the group recites the Serenity Prayer
  • Some members may have been asked to read three texts: How it Works, the Twelve Traditions and The Promises – or the text may be read a paragraph at a time by those present, including newcomers
  • Chairperson will invite newcomers or people attending the meeting for the first time to introduce themselves by their first name only – this preserves everybody’s anonymity, a key tradition of AA. You do not have to introduce yourself if you don’t want to
  • AA business will be taken, often while a pot is passed to raise funds. You do not have to contribute. AA business is a series of announcements about other meetings taking place, requests for volunteers to undertake certain roles and details of conventions and events that are part of the AA calendar
  • The meeting itself now takes place – it may be a discussion meeting, a Big Book Study, a Step Study or speaker sharing their experience (of alcoholism) and strength and hope (of recovery)
  • Conclusion of meeting
  • After the meeting business concludes, many meetings offer chips for length of sobriety with the shortest length being 24 hours. You may take a chip if you are entitled to it but it’s not obligatory
  • Statement of Twelfth Tradition
  • Close of meeting with either the Lord's Prayer or the Serenity Prayer

What Happens Next

Often what happens after the meeting is as important as what happens during it. Newcomers will find they are given a chance to stand and chat to other members of longer standing, those who are regular attenders and have a sponsor will be doing a similar thing: checking in with the person who has agreed to take them through the 12 Steps of AA so that they can master the underlying conditions that have led them to alcoholism. Questions can be asked in a less pressured environment.

Fear Of Meetings

Many people are fearful of attending their first meeting, and fear is the greatest obstacle to recovery from alcoholism or any addition.

The reason for AA’s existence is so that people who have had the same experience (alcoholism) can share their strength and hope (in recovery) and ensure that the are still on the path that keeps them sober. It’s not a process of learning from others who’ve been there before you but a sharing of experience, whether it’s your first meeting or five-hundredth, and a way of recognising that the negative emotions: fear, shame and guilt, which have led to alcoholism in the first place, have to be treated – they don’t go away just because you stop drinking.

Feeling frightened, ashamed, terrified or threatened are normal – you will find that other people present will probably express exactly the feelings you are experiencing and how they deal with them.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • AlcoholIssues
    Re: Living With an Alcoholic
    Just me - Your Question:I’ve been with my husband for 15 years married for 12 with two amazing children. My husband has always had an…
    20 April 2018
  • Dee1976
    Re: Support for Family and Friends of Alcoholics
    My partner went into rehab in dec 2016. He was doing really well in his sobriety journey until Jan this year…
    18 April 2018
  • Just me
    Re: Living With an Alcoholic
    I’ve been with my husband for 15 years married for 12 with two amazing children. My husband has always had an active personality-…
    17 April 2018
  • Abby
    Re: Alcohol, Young People and UK Law
    What are the usual consequences if a child were to attempt to sneak alcoholic produces into secondary school?
    15 April 2018
  • Brightonlisa47
    Re: Living With an Alcoholic
    My bf 4 years was only drinking cider 2 days he now drinks every night bottle of rum . 1/2 litre . We have no physical relationship as…
    14 April 2018
  • bubs1
    Re: Alcohol, Young People and UK Law
    Hiya we have a liscened horseboxbar our daughter is almost 15.. is it legal for her to prepare alcoholic drinks and serve…
    31 March 2018
  • Beau
    Re: What Causes Alcoholism?
    I have been living with my partner for 3 years and though I have some normal times with them drinking cheap cider - he will then hide…
    25 March 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Living With an Alcoholic
    Please help I have been with my partner for 7 years he had a drink problem for many years now he tried getting help but sadly it ended…
    4 March 2018
  • Seek
    Re: Support for Family and Friends of Alcoholics
    Hello my partner of ten years is constantly drinking i dont no what to do anymore i have tried to support him…
    26 January 2018
  • Mazy
    Re: Support for Family and Friends of Alcoholics
    My partner drinks most night she mixes sherry with wine. Sometimes gin. Usually a bottle of sherry plus wine.…
    20 January 2018
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AlcoholIssues website. Please read our Disclaimer.