What Happens At An AA Meeting?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group for people who wish to stop drinking.

In AA meetings, people share their experiences, strengths, and hopes for their common problem, alcoholism, and help each other to recover.

Getting help for addiction can be a scary time for people, with the first step they take on the road to recovery often being the hardest.

One important thing to remember is that there are no strict rules in the AA meeting. While they all follow a rough guide, depending on where you are located, the type of meeting, what is talked about at the time, and the order of the meeting may change.

With that in mind, here’s what you can expect when you attend an AA meeting.

What Happens During an AA Meeting

AA meetings are typically held in community centers, extended church buildings, or other buildings worldwide. The room where the meeting is held is usually equipped with chairs or couches for meeting participants. Before the meeting starts, people will probably be dotted around the room, some talking, some keeping to themselves, and some enjoying the free coffee provided.

How an AA Meeting Begins

The meeting begins with the chairperson reading the AA preamble, and then a group prayer, usually the Serenity Prayers, is said. After this, there may be some readings from AA literature, such as the “Alcoholics Anonymous” book (also called “The Big Book”), and the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” book.


A.A. PREAMBLE© Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are selfsupporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.*

*Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc.

SERENITY PRAYER (Short version)

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference. Amen

Once the meeting opens, visitors will have a chance to introduce themselves. The chairperson will usually ask if any newcomers want to introduce themselves to the group. While a few may say yes, this is not mandatory, and if you are not comfortable with doing this, you won’t be forced to.

Sharing During an AA Meeting

The sharing portion is one of the most well-known parts of an AA meeting. People who want to share their day usually begin with “Hello, my name is… and I’m an alcoholic”, to which everyone responds with “Hello (first name).” Then, the person shares about the topic or whatever they need to discuss about recovery.

When sharing their stories, people often talk about how they got into drinking, how being an alcoholic has affected their lives, and how AA has worked for them.

They may talk about their families or friends or people they’ve hurt through their drinking. It’s very important to remember that AA is a judgment-free space, so while you may hear some bad things being said, these people are on the path to recovery just as you are.

Supporting and forgiving the actions of others and yourself is a vital part of the AA process.

What Happens At The End Of The Meeting

Once time is up, the chairperson may say a few AA-related announcements.

They may ask everyone to say the Lord’s Prayer or another prayer. If this happens, participants will stand and join hands while reciting the prayer.


Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. They Kingdom come, Thy Will be done On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil, For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory Forever and ever. Amen

Once the prayer is said, the meeting is over. Some people gather and have conversations while the room is being packed up. If it’s your first AA meeting and you introduce yourself at the beginning of the meeting, members may come over to say hello and offer encouragement. This is a good time to ask for members’ phone numbers so you can call when you need help.

Other Types Of Meetings

Not all AA meetings will follow the same format, so there are other things that could happen at your meeting.

Step Study Meeting

Some meetings are dedicated Step Meetings. In these, the chairperson announces which of the 12 steps they will focus on for this meeting.

After the step chapter is read from the AA Big Book, participants will have the opportunity to share their experiences with this step, how they found AA or any fears or anxieties they may have.

This type of meeting provides more context for the 12 steps and will give you different perspectives from different people.

Speaker Meetings

Speaker meetings are meetings where one person tells their story, usually from the front of the room. An AA member will introduce the speaker at the beginning of the meeting, and the rest of the time, the speaker will talk about what it was like while drinking, what happened to them, and what they are like today.

Desire Chip

A desire chip is a chip given to newcomers or people coming back to the program to show they will try the AA way of life for 24 hours. This chip is an important coin for newcomers and those who need a physical reminder of the commitment they make to stay sober for 24 hours.

Going to your very first AA meeting can be nerve-racking, with it often being one of the hardest steps you can take on the path to recovery.

But the support you will receive at the meeting will help make the most positive changes to your life beyond your dreams.

Remember that these people are here to help you be your best person. Whether you keep going or decide it isn’t for you, there will be no judgment so that you can make the best decision for yourself.

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