What To Expect in an AA Meeting

What To Expect in an AA Meeting
source: apa.org

Alcoholics Anonymous has no doubt a great help to many. Because of its efficacy and openness, the 12-step program has spread across 180 nations and has more than 2 million members worldwide.

As for the research, it is conclusive that AA is a proven aid against alcoholism, more so than science-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). With that said, science-based treatments are also more effective than going solo. A 16-year study found that 56% of those who sought therapeutic abstained from alcohol versus 39% who tried to quit on their own.

If you suspect that you are suffering from alcoholism, you are better off seeking help than trying to get out by yourself.

Closed vs. Open Meetings

  • Open meetings:Anyone interested in the program can attend. You don’t even have to be an alcoholic, you may simply want to check the program out for a loved one, or you just may be curious. Whatever the case, the general public is welcome.
  • Closed meetings:AA members only. A safe place to share your experience with like-minded individuals if you want to.

What Will it Cost?

A meeting is free for non-members to attend, though members are expected to contribute towards the costs of renting the meeting place and refreshments if there are any.

The Format

A chair of the meeting/leader opens the meeting with the AA preamble and a couple of welcoming statements. They may then call for a prayer recitation or a moment of silence. Religion is not a requirement. If you wish to join in the prayer, you can pray to your chosen deity.

AA is primarily an open-minded experience

As the founder of AA put it, “No AA group or members should ever, in such a way as to implicate AA, express any opinion on outside controversial issues – particularly those of politics, alcohol reform or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.”

The chair may ask new attendees to identify themselves, but this isn’t a requirement. You are free to sit by the door if you wish to make a quick exit though there shouldn’t be any reason to.

You should not worry about being asked a question and if you are, feel free to decline

The stance of the meeting will always be to encourage others to share their experience. As such, cross-talk is discouraged in order to create an environment free from judgment.


While there is some understandable hesitation in attending an AA meeting, one should not be afraid. The 12-step program consists of a welcoming community that embraces those who have suffered from alcohol and drug addiction.

It also matters the kind of help you seek. Centers like Impact Recovery (https://impactrecoverycenter.net/) have a spiritual and clinical component that maximizes the likelihood that you will abstain from alcohol. Whatever the type of treatment you desire, the key thing to remember is that any good help is better than no help. A support system is crucial in times of need.