Frequently Asked Questions
about A.A. Meetings
Frequently Asked Questions
about A.A. Meetings
Going to an A.A. meeting is simple. You can find where and when there is a meeting convenient for you and you just show up. That’s it. There’s no signing in, no money to pay, no appointment to make. There are no intrusive questions, no obligations. Your privacy and anonymity will be respected.
You’ll never be met with a demand to come back to any meeting or indeed to A.A. You can go to different meetings as often or as little as you wish.
Many of us had no idea what to expect of our first meeting. For some of us the idea was quite scary, so we were greatly relieved to find that our fears were groundless. A.A. meetings are relaxed, friendly and open.
Below are answers to some frequently asked questions (faq) about A.A. meetings.
Here are some issues a lot of us worried about before coming to our first A.A. meeting.
At most meetings you will hear members talk about what drinking did to them and to those around them. Most also share what actions they took to stop drinking and how they are living their lives today.
The purpose of all meetings is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”
No, it’s not like going to a doctor or a health clinic. A.A. meetings are very informal. Just take a seat and listen to the stories members will tell about their drinking and their recovery. You can talk to people if you want to, or just keep to yourself until you feel more comfortable.
There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership. An A.A. group will usually have a collection during the meeting to cover expenses, such as rent, coffee, etc., and to this all members are free to contribute as much or as little as they wish.
No. A.A. does not keep membership files, or attendance records. You do not have to reveal anything about yourself. No one will bother you if you don’t want to come back.
You also do not have to sign-up at the meeting. If, at some stage you want to join a particular group, you just say so. If you don’t want to join any group, that’s okay too. No one should tell you what to do about your drinking. If you want to keep drinking that’s your business. We just suggest that, if you want to stop drinking, you try doing what we did.
In-person meetings happen in a variety of places where a room can be rented. Meetings occur in places such as:
- office buildings
- treatment centers
- recreation/community centers
- buildings dedicated to renting to recovery groups, such as clubhouses
- You can even find meetings on beaches, in parks or in other outdoor settings.
Online meetings are also available. Various platforms are used depending on what the group members prefer. Some are video meetings where you see each other’s faces. At other online meetings, everyone’s video is off. Still other meetings use a dial-in conference call number.
The chair usually opens the meeting with the A.A. Preamble and a few remarks. Some call for a moment of silence and/or recite the Serenity Prayer.
The chair will often ask if there are any people new to A.A. attending the meeting who would like to introduce themselves. It isn’t mandatory to identify yourself but it might be helpful if you are attending your first meeting.
Many meetings begin with a reading from the Big Book — frequently a portion of Chapter 5 (“How It Works”) or Chapter 3 (“More About Alcoholism”). A statement about anonymity in A.A. as a valuable privacy principle for new and longtime members might be read.
Many meetings close with members joining in a moment of silence followed by a prayer, or perhaps by reciting the Responsibility Statement or other A.A. text.
The purpose of all A.A. group meetings, as the Preamble states, is for A.A. members to “share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” Toward this end, A.A. groups have both open and closed meetings.
Closed meetings are for A.A. members only, or for those who have a drinking problem and “have a desire to stop drinking.”
Open meetings are available to anyone interested in Alcoholics Anonymous’ program of recovery from alcoholism. Nonalcoholics may attend open meetings as observers.
At both types of meetings, the A.A. chairperson may request that participants confine their discussion to matters pertaining to recovery from alcoholism.
Whether open or closed, A.A. group meetings are conducted by A.A. members who determine the format of their meetings.
Reprinted from The A.A. Group . . . Where It All Begins, p. 13, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.
If you would like to attend an A.A. meeting and are uncertain which type is best for you, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 302-856-6452.
There are many types of meetings, including those specifically geared toward beginners. Generally, however, our experience is that the best meeting to attend is the first one you can get to. Below are a few.
- Discussion — Whether closed or open, an A.A. member serving as “leader” or “chair” opens the meeting using that group’s format, and selects a topic for discussion. Background for many topic meetings derives from A.A. literature, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book), Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, As Bill Sees It, Daily Reflections, and from AA Grapevine.
- Beginner — Usually led by a group member who has been sober awhile, these are sessions to help newcomers. Beginners meetings may also follow a discussion format, or focus on Steps One, Two and Three. Suggestions for Leading Beginners Meetings has good information on how to conduct A.A. meetings for beginners.
- Step/Tradition — Because the Twelve Steps are the foundation of personal recovery in A.A., many groups devote one or more meetings a week to the study of each Step in rotation; some discuss two or three Steps at a time. This same format may be applied to group meetings on the Twelve Traditions. Many groups make it a practice to read aloud pertinent material from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions at the beginning of the meeting.
- Big Book — Uses the book Alcoholics Anonymous (published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services) known to members as the “Big Book”, as a point of discussion. Often members will take turns reading from the book. A passage may inspire a thought related to our recovery.
- Speaker — A.A. members “tell their stories.” They describe their experiences with alcohol, how they came to A.A., and how their lives have changed as a result of Alcoholics Anonymous.
They will be there for the same reason you are there. They will not disclose your identity to outsiders. At A.A. you retain as much anonymity as you wish. That is one of the reasons we call ourselves Alcoholics Anonymous.
When you go to an A.A. meeting you don’t have to give your name. Some groups will invite newcomers to introduce themselves by their first name only so that we can welcome and help them find their way around A.A. All participation in A.A. meetings is voluntary and it is not necessary to introduce yourself.
The meeting will consist of members telling their stories, but if anyone isn’t in the mood to talk, it’s fine to decline. You may be invited to speak but it’s quite okay if you don’t want to.
No. Quite a few A.A. meetings are held in church halls, but that’s only because they’re convenient and affordable venues. A.A. groups are in no way affiliated with the churches or other organizations whose meeting rooms we rent. The A.A. program is certainly a spiritual one, but what that means is left up to the individual to decide.
The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual willpower, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the A.A. group, still others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief
Traditionally, most A.A. members through the years have found it important to belong to one group that they call their “home group.” This is the group where they accept service responsibilities and try to sustain friendships. And although all A.A. members are usually welcome at all groups and feel at home at any of these meetings, the concept of the home group has remained the strongest bond between the A.A. member and the Fellowship.
A sponsor is essentially an alcoholic who has made some progress in the A.A. recovery program and shares that experience on a continuous, individual basis with another alcoholic who is attempting to attain or maintain sobriety through A.A. We urge you to not delay in asking someone to be your sponsor. Alcoholics recovered in A.A. want to share what they have learned with other alcoholics. We know from experience that our own sobriety is greatly strengthened when we share the solution.
Safety is a topic within A.A. that groups and members may need to address to help ensure the ability to carry the message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Our Twelve Traditions provide a set of principles to help guide us, and the additional shared experience pertaining specifically to safety provided in this service piece may be helpful if challenges arise at in-person or virtual settings.
The Safety in A.A. flyer contains various topics to help A.A. groups and members develop workable solutions and help keep our meetings safe.
If you are looking for a way to access A.A. information on your phone — check out this digital source for A.A. materials that includes links to literature and meeting information. Simply click or press the link sdiaa.glideapp.io and your browser will prompt you to add the app to your home screen. Alternatively, you can scan the QR code image with the camera on your phone to preview it. Your app will automatically update when new features or information is added. On iOS, make sure to open the link in Safari.
You may also find the following pamphlets from A.A. World Services useful.