What are AA meetings?
AA Meetings are open forums hosted by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an international organization of men and women who have had an alcohol or substance abuse problem and have utilized the 12-Step program to overcome their addictions. AA meetings are hosted by members and are available in most communities nationwide at varying times. At these meetings, members share their experiences coping with addiction, how they discovered AA and how the program has aided their goal of sobriety.
AA Meetings are typically held in open and closed sessions. Open meetings are available to members, friends, family members and those interested in learning more about the organization. Closed meetings are also held in some areas for members only, and special groups for women, teens and LGBT individuals are available as well.
These meetings can take place anywhere, and typically follow the format of speaker, discussion and step meetings. Speaker meetings are when AA members share their experiences with alcohol abuse and how they found the program, which largely focuses on sharing and listening than direct interaction. Discussion meetings take this one step further by providing an open forum for members to share and speak about issues that other bring up. Finally, step meetings refer to gatherings in which each attendee will discuss one of the 12 steps.
What is the 12-Step Program?
Alcoholics Anonymous was co-founded by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1935, both of whom were alcoholics and relied on one another to achieve sobriety. In 1939, Smith completed the book, "Alcoholics Anonymous," which has formed the basis of the organization's teaching and ethos that is founded on the 12-Step Program.
The 12-Step Program outlines a series of "principles, spiritual in nature, when practiced as a way of life can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happy and usefully whole." While the original 12 steps were focused on religion as a means of obtaining sobriety, in recent decades the program has largely abandoned the God-centric steps and instead is designed to foster an individual's spiritual capacity as a means of overcoming alcohol and substance abuse. The 12 steps are designed to give those in treatment the capacity to take a self-inventory, admit wrongs and make amends with those who have suffered because of their addictions, and continual self-reflection that serve as the guidelines for living and working together both within AA and outside the program.