Going to an A.A. meeting is simple. You can find where and when there is a meeting convenient for you and you just turn up. That’s it. There’s no signing in, no dues or fees, 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.
Here are some issues a lot of us worried about before coming to our first A.A. meeting:
If I go to an A.A. meeting, does that commit me to anything?
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.
What happens if I meet people I know?
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.
What happens at an A.A. meeting?
An A.A. meeting may take one of several forms, but at any meeting you will find alcoholics talking about what drinking did to their lives and personalities, what actions they took to help themselves, and how they are living their lives today.
Will I be asked a lot of questions?
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.
How do I join A.A.?
You are an A.A. member if and when you say so. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking, and many of us were not very wholehearted about that when we first approached A.A.
How much does A.A. membership cost?
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.
Do I have to get up and speak in front of people?
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.
Is A.A. a religious organization?
No. Nor is it allied with any religious organization.
There’s a lot of talk about God, though, isn’t there?
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 non-belief.
What are closed or open meetings?
Most A.A. meetings are “open”. That is, anyone is welcome to attend. “Closed” meetings are for A.A. members or people who are new to A.A. who want to stop drinking.
Can I bring my family to an A.A. meeting?
Family members or close friends are welcome at “Open” A.A. meetings. Discuss this with your local contact.