There are many misconceptions about what goes on in AA meetings and sometimes what you may think happens in these meetings isn’t necessarily true. Many movies and television programs will sometimes show these meetings, but they don’t always accurately depict what these meetings are actually like. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in the 1930s and has shown to be one of the best ways to prevent relapse for recovering alcoholics. The foundation of this original 12 step program are the meetings that originally started with just one alcoholic talking to another.
What is an Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting?
As long as alcohol has been around, there have been alcoholics. Alcoholism is a form of addiction that affects roughly one in ten people. Those afflicted with the disease of alcoholism suffer from a mental obsession and physical craving that makes them lose the power of choice when it comes to alcohol. Although they may want to stop, they’re unable to by their own willpower. Alcoholism puzzled doctors for centuries because although they could help alcoholics detoxify from alcohol, they had no way of keeping the person sober. Before Alcoholics Anonymous and AA meetings, doctors thought the only solution to keep an alcoholic safe from themselves was to lock them away in a sanitarium. This was until Bill W. and his other founders formed Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety that could not stop drinking no matter how unmanageable his life had become. One fateful day he was visited by an old drinking friend who was an alcoholic too, but seemed to have found a way to recover from alcoholism. Bill’s friend Ebby, explained to him that he took certain steps that helped him recover, but the most important one was to help another suffering alcoholic. Once Bill saw that it had worked for his friend who he’d thought was hopeless, he tried the process as well and this is how Alcoholics Anonymous was founded, paving the way for AA meetings.
During moments of weakness, Bill found that the only way to ensure his sobriety was to work with another alcoholic. He kept what he had by giving it away. It didn’t take long for Bill to begin finding other people to follow this path and recover from alcoholism as well, and this is how the program began. Dr. Silkworth, Bill’s doctor, was astonished at what this fellowship had become and how it had helped so many alcoholics and decided to contribute a letter to the book of Alcoholics Anonymous in one of the most famous chapters, The Doctors Opinion.
What Happens in AA Meetings
There are a variety of different AA meetings that have different formats, but they’re all based around alcoholics sharing their experience, strength and hope with one another to help each other achieve sobriety. Some of these AA meetings have a secretary who will run the meeting and call on people to share, while others allow people to share when they’d like to. Either way, you always have the option to respectfully decline to share and just listen to others in the meeting.
Most of these AA meetings will have a topic of discussion to give people something specific to share about. Some meetings have a daily topic while others will read a passage from the AA literature and share on what was read and how they relate. There are also Big Book meetings where each person takes turns reading from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and then people can share about what was read.
If you’re newly sober and have made the decision to attend meetings, just remember to keep an open mind. Sometimes you will find a meeting that you don’t like and this is perfectly normal, but don’t give up because there are many other meetings that you may thoroughly enjoy. Call our helpline today at 800-890-3586 for more information about AA meetings and how to find the right one for you.