Making the decision to attend an AA meeting signifies that you have not only acknowledged you have a problem with alcohol, but you have a plan with which to start your path to recovery. Attending a meeting for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. Knowing what to expect, and knowing what is expected of you, will help you to get the most out of your experience.
A large part of an AA meeting is listening. Some meetings will have one main speaker and other meetings might have a few members share their stories. It is important to listen attentively and never interrupt the speaker. If you have questions or a thought you would like to share, wait until the floor is opened for comments or you can approach the individual after the meeting.
During an AA meeting, people will share very intimate details of their life and recovery story. Listen with an open mind and never put anyone down. We are all different and we handle situations in different ways. Listen supportively and always remember that age old advice, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Sometimes at meetings share time is opened up to all attendees. As the conversation goes round the circle, you will be given a chance to speak. You aren’t obligated to share and it is perfectly acceptable to politely decline by saying, “I’ll pass.” No one will look down on you and you will never be forced to speak at an AA meeting.
Because there are more and more smoking bans in community and commercial buildings, most AA meetings don’t allow smoking inside during the meeting. If your group meets in a building that is smoke free, there will usually be a designated area for smoking outside the building. When in doubt ask.
There is never a charge to attend an AA meeting. Often a voluntary collection is taken to help with expenses. As a first time attender, you are not expected to contribute, but if you would like to do so a dollar is a sufficient amount to give.
If you attend your first meeting with an open heart and an open mind, you will find the AA is full of people just like you and with the support you will receive, you can find the power to overcome your addictions.