Alcoholics anonomous (AA) is a self-help group for alcoholics. It is called alcoholics anonamous because group members are supposed to be anonymous.
They use first names only, and are not supposed to share any information about group members or information discussed in group sessions outside of meetings. Some meetings are “open meetings,” meaning that anyone may attend, but others are “closed meetings,” meaning that only alcoholics are invited.
Alcoholics anonamous is a self-help group, meaning that it is run by alcoholics for alcoholics. It is never run by professionals. A group member who has been attending for a while usually gives a talk, then the meeting is opened up for general discussion. There are other self-help groups for alcoholics, but alcoholics anonomous is by far the most popular.
Alcoholics in the beginning stages of recovery are often advised to attend “90 meetings in 90 days.” This may be in addition to other treatment services. While alcoholics anonamous is an excellent program, it is often only one component of a successful treatment program. To find out the level of care you need, you should be assessed by a professional. Remember, AA is a self-help group, and should not take the place of professional care.
If you’ve never been to an alcoholics anonomous meeting, you may feel a little nervous about going. That’s only natural. Here’s what to expect if you go.
At the beginning of the meeting, people will go around the room and introduce themselves. They will say, “Hi, I’m Susie, and I’m an alcoholic.” Remember, the group is anonymous, so only first names are used.
After introductions, someone will read the 12 steps. Alcoholics anonamous is based on 12 steps, which, when followed, lead to an addiction-free lifestyle. The 12 steps are at the heart of the alcoholics anonomous program.
Next, someone usually gives a talk. This is a member of AA, generally someone who has been a member for some length of time. The talk is often about one of the 12 steps and how he or she has applied it to his or her life.
After the talk, the meeting will be opened up for discussion. Members can talk about how the talk related to their own lives. AA meetings are unique because members seldom give advice, but simply listen to each other. It may feel odd at first, but it may also be the first time many people have felt that other people have really listened to them.
At some meetings, no one gives a talk, and the meeting is simply a discussion among members. Members may talk about anything they like. They often share their stories with one another. It can be both surprising and comforting to find you are not alone in your experiences.
No one is pressured to talk at meetings. You are free to just listen to others talk. However, in time you will probably feel comfortable sharing some of your own story. The more you put into the group, the more you will get out of it.
There are alcoholics anonomous meetings throughout the U.S., in any large city and in most rural areas as well. There are meetings in many other countries, as well. Meetings are held at various times of the day. If you live near a large city, chances are you are never far from a meeting.
To find a meeting near you, check your local yellow pages. Look under “Alcoholics Anonymous” or “alcoholism.” You can also search for meetings online by typing “alcoholics anonymous” and your city into your favorite search engine.