Alcoholics come from all walks of life. They have any level of education, and they are rich or poor or somewhere in between. Some are smart, others are dull, but they have one thing in common; they drink. Most alcoholics drink too much and too often. Some don’t often drink, but when they do, it’s always trouble. Some drink day and night; others drink only at night. Every alcoholic knows, somewhere in their heart, that they need help. Every alcoholic stumbles and struggles with denial until they understand that alcohol is not their friend or maybe the only friend they have left. They are you and me. So, what happens at an AA meeting?
AA is a long-established fraternity of folks who have struggled with alcohol. Anyone can come, meetings are free, and newcomers are especially welcomed. You may feel you won’t fit in. If you show up, you will only be meeting people who already know a lot about you; everyone there has been just like you – alcohol took over their lives. Meetings are held regularly and often several times a day. There is usually a moderator who starts the meeting with introductions. Most people give their first name and repeat, “I’m an alcoholic,” as they may have said many times before. Now, you don’t need to say anything, and as someone new, nobody expects you to. Saying, “I’m here to listen,” or saying anything at all is just fine. Then the meeting will have a theme or an open roundtable discussion, and the talks are not always about drinking. The philosophy behind AA is that there are many aspects about drinking and how it affects living. Meetings last less than an hour and often finish with a short devotional. You can stay around and ask questions one-on-one or quietly leave. You will find people receptive and respectful at the same time.
Concerning for many newcomers is the fear of being exposed as an alcoholic. First, you only give your first name or a nickname, and everyone is anonymous. And, those who know you – know you drink too much already.
Meetings bring out the best in people, and are all about getting to every detail of addiction to alcohol. The success of AA comes from real experts who have lived as alcoholics and came to understand they were powerless over their addiction. Their guidance is based on the shared experiences of generations of alcoholics. Just listening, you will become comfortable knowing you are not alone in your struggles. You will hear stories from people who lost everything dear to them. Then, there are stories about long struggles to that first day of sobriety and learning to live without alcohol. Some had to “white knuckle it” at first but came to realize living with alcohol is not an option for them. You will hear many testimonials about humility, honesty and never giving up. You will learn that the only rule in AA is to “keep coming back.” Some stories will seem not to fit you and your drinking, but you will feel an echo of truth every meeting.
Newcomers will soon learn the jargon of their new friends. You will discover that taking it “one day at a time” means that for today, just today, is all you need to promise yourself. You will hear people say, “denial is a river in Egypt,” and that denial has no room in your life. You will come to understand the “Big Book” was written by “Bill W” founding father of AA. And when they say “keep coming back,” you know that it’s okay to rely on AA; and that a “sponsor” is a mentor who has done well and has much to share with you.
Key Take A-Ways
- AA meetings are open and welcoming to newcomers
- Meetings are for overcoming alcoholism
- Just listening is okay
- Meetings are anonymous, first names and nicknames only
- Every AA member knows what it’s like
When you are ready to change your life, AA offers an avenue to break from something that does not work. Drinking is a dead end. Losing friends and family, your job, and even your home is not worth it. Alcoholism is a terminal disease – if it doesn’t kill you, it will ruin you. When you are ready, we’re here to help. Call 833-820-2922 24/7