For nearly 80 years, the community of Alcoholics Anonymous has provided much-needed support and healing for recovering alcoholics.
Alcoholics Anonymous from the Beginning
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (both recovering alcoholics) in 1935. AA began as a community-based fellowship to assist others in becoming sober. Wilson and Smith developed a 12 Step program that would govern AA meetings along with the 12 Traditions that furthered define the group’s purpose.
Currently, Alcoholics Anonymous boasts more than two million active members worldwide, with more than 50,000 groups nationwide. The original 12 Steps are still used and are credited by addicts in helping them remain clean and sober.
What to Expect from an AA Meeting
Deciding to attend an AA meeting can be a daunting decision. Attending a meeting can be intimidating and uncomfortable. It places you out of your comfort zone. You are asked to admit your need for help to a room full of strangers.
The good news is all AA members experience the same feelings. Every person in the room for an AA meeting has been through the same situation as you. AA meetings today continues to use the same model as when it was first formed in 1935. Each member in the room strives to create a feeling of community and understanding among recovery addicts.
Each person who attends an AA meeting are welcomed as part of the group from the moment they walk in the door. Because AA members understand that it is uncomfortable to share intimate details during their first visit, established members of the group share without judgment. If you choose to join in the discussion, you are encouraged to but it is not a requirement. As time passes, a person may discover that a great deal of healing comes through open and honest sharing and discussions.
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“Closed” vs. “Open” Meetings
A closed AA meeting is one in which the only people that attend are those who are recovering addicts, or those interested in learning more about overcoming their addiction. An open meeting allows the attendance of friends, spouses and family members to attend. You should decide which type of meeting that you are most comfortable with attending. Sometimes people wish to keep their recovery separate from the rest of their lives while others need the support from loved ones during meetings.
The 12 Steps
The 12 Steps developed by Wilson and Smith are now the standard for almost all recovery groups. The steps are presented linearly but some members see them as an ongoing circle. Once a step has been accomplished, the participant moves to the next step. However, this doesn’t mean that the steps can’t be revisited until the recovering addict is comfortable with that stage of the process.
Admitting you have a problem and need help overcoming your addiction is the first step in the recovery process. Other steps include making a decision to quit; admitting to yourself and others your wrongs; making amends for wrongdoings; and commitment to continuous improvement. Read more about the 12 steps here.
Oppositions to AA
Because attending an AA meeting can be uncomfortable, many people make excuses or find reasons not to attend. Some of the most common reasons are:
- The attendee doesn’t think it will help.
- The attendee is afraid of seeing someone they know.
- The attendee isn’t sure they have a problem.
Before attending a meeting, you should ask yourself the question “Why am I considering going in the first place?” Whatever the reason, the deciding factor should be that you think there is a problem. There can be no harm in attending a meeting especially if it will save you years of heartache and destruction caused by your addiction.
Finding an Alcoholics Anonymous Group
There are numerous AA groups across the nation. Most groups meet on a regular basis. Some are open; some are closed. We are here to help you find an AA group in your area.