What is an AA meeting like

Many people have preconceptions about 12-step programs. You may be nervous to try an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for any number of reasons. There are a few misconceptions that keep people away from AA meetings, but the reality is that the program has saved millions of lives.

The main reason that people do not attend is because they think it's a religious program. That's simply not the case. Although 12-step meetings have some religious undertones, there are no specific affiliations with any religion or God. Meeting formats vary from group to group, but most include readings from the book Alcoholics Anonymous and then sometimes a discussion.

Some people are concerned that they will not fit in or that everyone else will be an alcoholic. The reality is that there are all kinds of people at 12-step meetings. What brings them together is their shared sobriety and desire to help others like them find it as well.

Let's answer the question that you've probably been wondering about, "What is an AA meeting like?" Understanding the answer will help you better understand alcohol addiction treatment.

What Is an AA Meeting Like?

If you've been wondering, "What is an AA meeting like?", you may be worrying about a few things. One of the issues a person may have with going to an AA meeting is that they believe they’ll have to speak. For those who have social anxiety, this can be a deterrent.

Different meetings have different formats. There are some meetings where people are called on, and there are others where you only share if you want to. No matter what the case is, you can always pass and say that you’d just like to listen. You may also wonder about what actually goes on in these meetings.

The best meetings that you’ll attend are where people share their experiences, strength and hope. Sometimes this comes in the form of a meeting where one person with a significant amount of sobriety shares their story of addiction and recovery.

You can go to a meeting sober and just listen to your peers share their stories. Speaking at a 12-step meeting is called "sharing" and it's an important part of the program. It's also completely optional.

In most meetings, people simply share about what their alcoholism used to be like. They may also share how they got through it and what it’s like now. The goal of each person sharing is to give new members a message of hope. Additionally, speakers let them know that they no longer have to live the way they’re living anymore if they’re ready to get sober.

Issues with "God" and Spirituality

One of the reasons most people don’t give AA meetings a try is because they believe that it’s primarily a religious program. While AA may have had some religious beginnings in the 1930s when it was founded, it’s not a religious program.

There are many reasons people avoid 12-step programs (AA, NA, CA etc.) One of the biggest is because they think there will be too much religion involved. While some groups do talk about God and prayer at certain times, many groups never do.

AA is a spirituality-based recovery program. Because of this, the program suggests that you find a Higher Power however you understand it. Through the step work process, you develop a Higher Power that doesn’t have to be God as anyone else understands the concept to be. For those who find that they are atheists or agnostics, there are specific AA groups for people who can’t or don’t believe in a power greater than themselves.

What Is An AA Meeting Like in Terms of Therapy?

One major method pioneered at AA meetings is therapy. Addiction therapy is a follow-up to detox, which heals the body. Psychotherapy instead focuses on healing the mind, tackling the roots of addictive behaviors. Therapy also handles co-occurring mental disorders through dual diagnosis treatment. What is an AA meeting like in terms of therapy? The two types of therapy can be split into the holistic approach and evidence-based modalities.

At San Antonio Recovery Center, therapies used to treat alcohol addiction include:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Animal Assisted Therapy
  • Art Therapy
  • Behavioral Therapy
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
    • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • EMDR Therapy
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Experiential Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Holistic Therapy
  • Individual Therapy
  • Meditation Therapy
  • Mindfulness Training
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Nutritional Therapy
  • Outdoor Therapy
  • Recreational Therapy
  • Trauma Therapy
  • Yoga Therapy

Getting Help

San Antonio Recovery Center is here to help you begin on your journey of recovery. We’ll teach you about addiction and provide you with ways to help you avoid relapse once you leave. We’ll introduce you to 12-step programs and teach you a little bit more about what happens in meetings as well as what the steps are. Call us at 866.957.7885 for more information.

Now is the time to focus on your recovery.


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