What to Expect at an AA Meeting: The Complete Guide

Alcoholism is on the rise, with one in eight people struggling with full-blown alcohol addiction.

But just because you’re an addict doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a better life. For some people, the first step toward sobriety is attending an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. These meetings, often held in churches or community centers, offer support, comfort, and strength.

Understandably, you might be a little nervous before attending your first meeting. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect at an AA meeting so you’ll know what you’re in for.

Before the Meeting

As you walk into the building for your first meeting, you’re probably feeling a mix of things. Nervous, proud, or even downright scared.

Don’t worry, that’s normal. And AA attendees know how frightening a first meeting can be, which is why they’ll likely leave you be.

They’re not doing so to be stand-offish, however. While some may come up and introduce themselves, the majority of people will allow you to set the pace.

You can also expect some light refreshments, which are perfect for nervous sipping or munching during the meeting.

Brief Introductions

Once it’s time for the meeting to begin, you’ll typically see someone stand up in front of the group or get in the middle of the circle. This person is the meeting leader.

They’ll welcome everyone to the group and encourage any newcomers to stand up and share their experiences.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Even if you’re attending due to a court order, AA is flexible. You can dictate what you do and don’t share with the group.

The Chip Ceremony

After the initial greetings and welcoming of new attendees, most meetings kick off with a chip ceremony.

The idea behind the chip ceremony is to celebrate recovery and maintain accountability. There are different chips at AA meeting for certain steps of recovery, like one day of sobriety, one month, 90 days, and so on.

A Discussion or Reading

AA follows the 12-step system, which each step representing a different part of the recovery journey. Once AA chips are handed out, the leader may choose to share their experiences with the group, relating them to one of the 12 steps.

Alternatively, they may read a passage from the AA book, “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.”

Stories and Updates

Finally, the bulk of the meeting will consist of your fellow meeting attendees sharing updates on their recovery. This is a great chance to learn more about potential mentors.

It’s important to note that even if an attendee deals with a setback, they shouldn’t be judged by their fellow attendees. Anything said during an AA meeting should be met with constructive comments and optimism.

What to Expect at an AA Meeting: Your Guide

Attending an AA meeting can seem like a nightmare to some. But knowing what to expect at an AA meeting can make the experience far easier to handle. Keep these tips in mind, and good luck on your sobriety!

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