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What is an AA Meeting?
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a community-based support program for people who want to quit drinking. With over 118,000 AA groups and an estimated 2 million members around the world, Alcoholics Anonymous stands as one of the most famous and effective paths to sobriety.1
All AA meetings share the same foundation of spiritual guidance and the famous 12 Step Program, but that does not mean meetings are not just as varied as the people who attend them.
Many who have not attended AA meetings might imagine familiar movie scenes with members sitting in a circle, listening to one lone member introduce themselves with the well-known line, “Hi, my name is _____, and I’m an alcoholic.” This classic introduction and sharing of personal experiences is a part of AA, though it just isn’t the only part.2
All you have to do to become a member is attend a meeting. New members are also encouraged to attend 90 meetings in 90 days to give them a strong start towards recovery.
Different Types of AA Meetings
Because Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are community-based, meetings can take many different forms. All AA meetings are either open to the public or closed just for members in recovery.3
- Big Book meetings: These meetings explore the history, philosophies, tools, 12 Steps, and case studies within AA’s founding text, the Big Book. Big Book meetings open up space for dialogue and discussion to bring the group together in exploring the fundamental principles of AA.
- Step Study meetings: Step Study meetings focus more closely on a discussion of the Big Book’s 12 Steps. One step is chosen each meeting for exploration and the sharing of personal experiences related to the step.
- Speaker meetings: Rather than focusing on discussion, speaker meetings typically have little to no sharing. Instead, these meetings feature a seasoned speaker who serves to inspire and motivate.
- Discussion meetings: A chairperson of the AA group usually leads discussion meetings. The chairperson will share a personal experience about their journey with alcoholism. Depending on the group, others may be invited to share their experiences as well.
Many different AA groups serve specific populations including LGBTQIA+, gender-specific meetings, and special interest-based groups.
History of Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous was born in Akron, Ohio in 1935 from the minds of two recovering alcoholics, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith. Bill had recently found his way to sobriety and was on a mission to share his process with other alcoholics when he met Bob. After just 30 days of working together, Bill helped Bob quit drinking.
Together, the two traveled to hospitals between Ohio and New York, helping alcoholics they met along the way. By 1939, the duo had helped the first 100 unofficial AA members find sobriety. That same year, the founding members helped Bill pen the Big Book – AA’s core founding text including the 12 Steps, case studies from other members, and the group’s philosophies.
12 Step Philosophy
The 12 Steps reflect the typical process of reflection and accountability that members experience through their commitment to sobriety. The core principles behind the 12 Step program include accepting powerlessness in the face of addiction and the need for support and help from something – usually a “higher power” – outside ourselves.4
The 12 Steps have remained relatively unchanged since their creation in 1939 and can be found on the AA website.
The COVID Switch from AA In-Person to AA Online
Beginning in 2020 with the pandemic, AA organizations began shifting to solely online AA meetings to accommodate the changing needs and realities of its members. As businesses start reopening and in-person meetings become available, many members are now facing the question: Do I go back to In-Person AA meetings, or do I choose Online AA?
The Benefits of Online AA Meetings
Online AA meetings offer members numerous advantages over traditional in-person meetings.
- Online AA is more convenient, especially for people who want to attend but don’t have transportation or are in a remote area.
- Virtual access to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings also means more flexibility for people’s schedules and additional responsibilities.
- Online AA Meetings also offer a comfortable alternative for those with social anxiety and who might prefer attending from the comfort and distance of their home.
The Negatives of Online AA Meetings
While there are plenty of positives to attending online AA meetings, there are also a few drawbacks. One of the concerns involves the security of online platforms. Anonymity is the cornerstone of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, creating a safe space where people can speak freely without fear of retribution. For this reason, members have voiced concerns about the possibility of hackers and confidential information being leaked.
Another concern is the possibility of a decreased connection between members. This drawback depends on the individual’s preferences. Many find the in-person connection and energy in the room cannot be replaced with online AA meetings, while others find they get everything they need from AA online.
COVID-19 Measures that AA Meetings can Incorporate
As the world begins reopening and AA groups begin transitioning back to in-person meetings, it is important to integrate COVID-19 safety measures.
Here are some tips Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can implement as they return to in-person:
- Social distancing
- No hugs or physical contact
- Cleaning and sanitizing measures
- Provide information about the COVID-19 vaccine
Why Some May Prefer In-Person AA Meetings
Ultimately, the choice between in-person Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and online AA meetings is a personal one.
- Many find they prefer the intimacy and deep connection they feel with other members during in-person meetings.
- In-person Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are often more balanced and structured than online meetings.
- Members often feel a greater sense of personal accountability due to the structured environment and physical closeness of fellow members.
Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings Near Me
With the number of options available, it’s never been easier finding the best AA meeting to suit your needs and lifestyle.
You can find information about local AA meetings at wellness clinics and rehabilitation centers. You can also head to the official AA website to find nearby in-person Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and the Online Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous for a complete list of ongoing online AA meetings.
If you’re struggling to find your way back to yourself, know you’re not alone.
We at Brooks Healing Center are here for you and want to help you fall in love with everything life has to offer you. If you’re looking for some support on your road to recovery, reach out. We’re happy to discuss the pathway to recovery that works best for your lifestyle and goals.
- https://www.alcohol.org/ alcoholics-anonymous/
- https://aa-intergroup.org/oiaa/ meetings/
- https://www.aa.org/pages/ en_US/meeting-guide
- https://www.aa.org/pages/ en_US/find-local-aa
- https://www.smartrecovery. org/