What Can I Expect At My First AA Meeting?

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Overcoming an alcohol dependency is often a difficult and challenging process. That said, individuals determined to meet this goal should be commended. Doing so confirms their awareness that a serious problem exists and their commitment to taking actions necessary to overcome the pitfall.

One measure recovering alcoholics sometimes partake in during the recovery process is attendance at meetings sponsored by an organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous, which many simply refer to as AA.

Organizers categorize AA as a fellowship of recovering alcohol dependents joining forces to conquer their drinking problems and maintain sobriety. There are no age or membership requirements and the organization is open to persons of all socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, faiths, and traditions.

The organization’s principal aim is to provide a safe, friendly, and inviting atmosphere for individuals looking to overcome alcohol additions a place to share their feelings and experiences.

Different Types Of AA Meetings

AA meetings are divided into several sub-categories. First, these gatherings can either be open or closed. Open meetings are available to any member of the public wishing to attend. Closed gatherings can only be taken part in by persons identifying as recovering alcoholics.

Meetings are also separated into groups dictated by the activities occurring at each of them.

For example, one oft-attended event is a step meeting. At this type of forum, focus will be placed on one of the 12 steps AA believes are crucial to a successful recovery. At speaker meetings, an invited guest will share their personal experiences with those in attendance. In some cases, gender-specific meetings will include those identifying with a specific gender classification.

Expectations Of One’s First Meeting

Understandably, one’s first foray into this world could seem daunting and intimidating. However, first timers might feel less anxiety when they have some idea of what to expect.


AA forums are often held in places like the community rooms of worship houses or inside community centers. Typically, such locations are easy to find and situated in central locations.

The Atmosphere

Typically, the gathering room is set up with a number of chairs placed adjacent to each other in a circle. Attendees sit in these seats. One chair is placed inside the circle’s center, which is reserved for the subject chairing or overseeing the forum.

The Meeting

The gathering is brought to order by the chairperson who first leads those assembled in the AA preamble and the Serenity Prayer. Once these initial constitutionals are completed, the chairperson will likely inquire if any new members are in attendance. Newcomers are not required to formally introduce themselves unless they feel comfortable doing so.

After these initial phases are finished, attendees usually begin sharing their experiences. Whoever is speaking at the moment introduces themselves and attendees formally welcome said subject. Sharing topics can vary but often include the reasons one started drinking, why they continued to drink, and the difficulties they experienced as a result of their dependency.

In addition, formats can vary depending on the size, type, and structure of the meeting in question. That said, participants are usually only required to abide by simple rules such as no smoking, that the individual speaking is not interrupted, guests arrive on or before the schedule start time, and that those gathered are respectful to the customs, feelings, and beliefs of others.

Important Considerations

It is important for first time attendees to realize that they might also experience:

An Outpouring Of Love And Support

Many of the people attending AA meetings have been in similar positions and faced the same emotions first timers are likely feeling. Therefore, novices should not be surprised if more experienced members enthusiastically go out of their way to befriend them or offer their support.

Honesty And Intimacy

Members often offer honest and sometimes intimate accounts of their addiction and related experiences. These raw descriptions help people express their feelings and release the pain they may have been holding in for many years.

Dark Humor

Experienced attendees often use dark humor as a means of healing. First timers might not find the subjects spoken about humorous but should try to understand such efforts are often employed as a coping method.

Reaching Out To Us

Those needing more information about AA or help finding an AA location in their community are asked to reach out to us. Our southeastern Florida facility can provide information on this or many other addiction-related topics. Call us at 866-963-7200.

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