What Do I Need to Know About My First AA Meeting?

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Most treatment facilities which offer programs for recovering from drug and alcohol addiction incorporate regular attendance to sober support meeting like those of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Going to meetings for the first time can be strange, new, and overwhelming. Here are a few quick tips for what you need to know about going to your first meeting.

  • You don’t have to call yourself an addict or an alcoholic. Labeling yourself is part of the twelve step spiritual process. Admitting oneself to have an unmanageable problem with alcohol is considered an act of surrender. Some people find comfort in being able to say their name followed by “I am an alcoholic” while others aren’t quite ready. You can consider it part of the ritual for attending a meeting.
  • You don’t have to share. Even if you are called on by the leader or by another person, you are not required to talk, introduce yourself, or share. For those in early recovery, sharing is complicated. It is often encouraged to share because it helps you practice verbalizing your inner thoughts. Additionally, it is a deep feeling of solidarity to share things unique to alcoholism with people who are uniquely alcoholic. Knowing that you are safe, respected, and understood is tremendous. Until you are ready you can simply say you pass on sharing. If people give you a hard time remember that you’re taking your recovery as it comes.
  • You don’t have to give them money. If you’re in treatment it’s likely you won’t have access to cash. However, the principle behind sober meeting donation baskets is to be self-supporting and not need the controlling financial interests of other organizations.
  • You should listen. You might not agree with everything they are saying in different kinds of meetings. It’s likely that at least once in a meeting you will hear something similar to your story, a piece of wisdom that you find practical, or a story of strength which inspires you.

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