In current times when alcoholism has taken over the lives of millions of people, there is a need for such a program that can help them get on their road to recovery. The good thing is that this road of recovery has been already made easier for them with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Many people are wary about stepping into these programs and it’s totally understandable. The reason why there is a bit of hesitation is because of a lot of unanswered questions. With no one to properly guide them, it can be quite intimidating as is the case when one is stepping into a new place full of strangers.
In order to help you out with a dilemma, we have made this guide for you to breeze through it with no troubles. We will be helping you with questions like how many hours is an AA, brief you about the 12 steps of AA, and give you some insight into what happens at an AA meeting.
Table of Contents
What Are AA Meetings?
AA or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are meetings organized by volunteers more than often and are for all those individuals who want to recover from alcoholism. The concept of AA meetings has been around since late 1935 but it has evolved a lot since then and gained a lot of popularity because of how successful and winning it has been for alcoholics. These meetings are a sort of fellowship program and are open to everyone. There are no restrictions and it is a program that is open for all.
There is no age limit set for the members who can be a part of the meetings and there is no exclusive way to get a membership. All you have to do is really want to get rid of alcoholism and you can be a part of the group. These meetings are often free of cost and in order to help the volunteers financially, a bucket is passed around at the end so that if anyone wants to give out some money, they can.
To make the process easier and smoother for newer members, the older and more experienced members become the sponsors for them and help them navigate the tricky road of recovery. Individuals are open to choose their own sponsors if they would like to do so but a lot of times sponsors are assigned to new people. These sponsors are usually chosen of the opposite gender so as to make sure that the road to recovery is straight and there are no other distractions in the way.
These sponsors are supposed to help them by providing them with moral support and helping along the way if there have been any relapse scares. It is the perfect pillar of support to aa for beginners.
The location of the set up of AA meetings doesn’t have a reserved spot at all. These meetings can take place anywhere the volunteers find it convenient to be. Since they are a worldwide organization based on the idea of volunteers, they do not have an official system for the head offices or rehabilitation centers. One can choose to conduct an AA meeting in whatever space they can get. A lot of times these are conducted at a set time in community halls or church basements, etc.
How many hours is AA?
A question often asked by AA beginners is how long do aa meetings last. This is a very basic question yet it keeps coming up frequently. The reason for this is because a lot of people are already wary of the idea of attending such meetings. So, naturally, if they are expected to sit through hours of such things several times a week, they are bound to get agitated.
A lot of people suffering from alcoholism are also in their adulthood and have other priorities. This means they may have work, or school/college, family, or other duties that they have to tend to. Getting stuck in settings, even helpful ones, for hours can be annoying. This is why volunteers and organizers make sure that these meetings do not extend for more than an hour.
Time is of the essence in these meetings. A lot of times people who attend these meetings are also lonely and are at a low point in their lives. This means they might not have a lot of people around them or the company that they have could be bad for their recovery and hence they are open to new interactions.
This is why if they want to they can meet up with people in the group earlier and then attend the meeting with them or some people like to go on coffee breaks or other small trips after the meeting has ended. It gives them time to digest all that happened and make new friends as well.
What Happens At An AA Meeting?
AA meetings might seem intimidating to beginners since they’ll be in a new environment and meeting a ton of new people. But it is important to remember that everyone there has had a dark past or present where they are constantly battling with alcoholism and drug abuse. This is one aspect of your life which will always match with theirs and can be taken as a common ground.
Open or Closed?
The basics to AA for beginners also have to include this very crucial piece of information. While you are looking for meetings in your area, or on online websites, you might find that some of them will be marked as open while the others may be marked as closed. Not to worry, nothing is confusing in this.
Open meetings are the ones that, as the name indicates are open for all individuals, alcoholics, or not. People can come in, share their stories, and get to be a part of a group. These groups do not require you to register in advance and are open to anyone who feels like attending it. Open AA meetings are a great option for anyone who wants to first go ahead and get a lay of the land. People who are looking at AA meetings in their area for their loved ones are also welcome to attend so that they can get a gist of how it goes.
Closed meetings on the other hand do not allow the entry of outsiders. Outsiders consist of anyone who has not signed up or registered for the anonymous meeting. Closed meetings are for those people who are a bit more private about their affairs and do not want strangers of all sorts to come in on them talking about their private life. These meetings have more in-depth discussions and require you to sign up for them beforehand.
Coffee Table Talks
At all AA meetings, there is some sort of refreshments organized for the people coming in. Sometimes group members tend to bring in food while a majority of times volunteers and organizers take care of it. These are just snacks like biscuits, cookies, etc accompanied with coffee. When people come in, they have the chance to grab some refreshments and mingle with the other people there.
This is the best chance to get to know the people around you and see if you can spot a friendly face in the group.
This is something that you might already be familiar with since it is shown on a huge scale in movies and tv shows. There is usually a circle made in such groups. It is not some rule to sit that way. Some groups also tend to book large rooms and set up chairs in columns. The meetings commence with individuals taking their seats and introducing themselves. The introductions go somewhat like this, “Hello, my name is ___, and I’m an alcoholic.” Everyone in the circle has to go around and introduce themselves.
Lastly, all the members of the group have the chance to share stories about themselves and their lives. These stories can be based on their past experiences when they were in the trouble, any losses they might’ve encountered, or any hurdles or struggles they might have been facing while on the road to recovery.
The idea is to make everyone feel like they are a part of something big and that each one of them is going through the same things, sometimes even harder situations.
These stories can also be horrifying at times and be a sort of a reminder for the rest of the group of the miles they have crossed by leaving something so vile behind. The stories can be a binding corner for everyone and can be a motivator to help them keep moving forward in their journey. Other than that, people are also encouraged to share their success stories or any timelines how many days/months it has been since their last alcoholic trip to give hope to other members. This should help give you a broad idea of what happens at an AA meeting.
12 Steps of AA
At the time of the formation of these AA meetings, there 12 steps laid down which are the foundation of these AA meetings. These can be taken as the guiding principles upon which the meeting and the recovery program was based. All the people in the recovery program are supposed toge through the steps and complete each. Some of the steps might be tough to complete but that is why there is an entire group in place.
To help complete the 12 steps of AA, the members, volunteers, and organizers are there to encourage, motivate, and help everyone every step of the way.
The 12 steps of AA are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
There is no time bound for the members to complete this 121 step process., everyone can go at their own pace. Some steps might take longer for one person depending on their life while it may be easier for the next person. It is just there to help people have a straight path on this recovery mission. Moreover, with the help of this 12 step process, people also found that it helped them stick to their goal and wait for the end results.
These meetings have proved to be helpful for a lot of people and have provided them with a direction in their life. Working on your recovery with a bunch of other people is also helpful. The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to be kind and gentle. Everyone is going through their own struggles and all they need is kindness from your side. Don’t cross-talk anyone and be kind to everyone in the group.