Finding Hope With Your Home AA Group
Across the United States, nearly roughly 140 million people over the age of 12 drink alcohol, and 10.6% of them have been diagnosed with alcohol use disorders. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is often recommended for people who are struggling with alcohol use. This peer support group is made up of people who have struggled with alcohol misuse. Group members are actively trying to become sober or maintain their sobriety.
Members can share their stories during meetings, and each member receives a sponsor to support him or her on the journey to sobriety. Together, group members work through a 12-step program that’s designed to help them become sober and maintain their sobriety.
AA meetings can be found in nearly every city and town across America. Many AA members choose to attend meetings at the same time and place each week (or day). These meetings become known as their “home meetings.” With home meetings, members get to see most of the same faces on a regular basis, and this helps with forming stronger bonds within the “home group.”
If you’re looking for an AA home meeting for yourself or a loved one, we’re here to help. This guide will explain how having an AA home meeting could benefit your journey to sobriety. We’ll help you understand what to expect at your home meetings and show you how to find a home meeting near you.
Is AA Right for You?
AA is designed to help people who repeatedly drink more than they want to, and the program allows individuals to decide whether they have a drinking problem.
AA meetings are for people who acknowledge that they have an alcohol use problem and who have the desire to become sober. There are no age or education requirements to be an AA member, and there are no membership dues or activity fees. AA provides an opportunity for fellowship with other people who have alcohol use issues, and the group members are dedicated to helping their peers with their paths to sobriety.
AA is only for people who have alcohol use issues. If you have issues with drugs, you may want to attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Friends and family members of people with alcohol use disorders can attend Al-Anon, a dedicated support group whose approach is similar to AA’s.
AA is a nonprofessional program. It’s not run by doctors, psychologists, or other healthcare professionals. While it offers encouragement and a safe space among caring people, it doesn’t provide diagnosis, medical treatment, or psychotherapy. Therefore, it is ideal for people who have mild to moderate alcohol use issues that aren’t complicated by other mental health or substance use issues. It might not be right for you if you have:
• Withdrawal symptoms
• Severe or prolonged alcohol use that requires medical detox or inpatient rehab
• Depression, PTSD, or other mental health conditions
If you need to complete medical detox or inpatient rehab, AA can be a source of strength once you return home. For people receiving outpatient treatment, AA may provide extra support that works with that treatment.
How to Find a Home Meeting (Home Group)
You can find information about local AA meetings online and in your community. Many churches and community centers have lists of meetings near you.
At first, you may want to attend meetings with a few different groups to get an idea of which one could be the best fit for your needs. For example, you might choose to attend the meeting that’s closest to your home, or you could go to a meeting that was recommended by a friend, doctor, or coworker.
You might want to attend an “open” meeting, too. Open meetings are open to the public, not just individuals with alcohol use issues. Everyone who attends an open meeting agrees not to disclose the names of AA members outside the meeting. During most open meetings, a leader will introduce one or more guest speakers. Usually, the guests will be AA members, and they will talk about their alcohol use, what led them to AA, and what their AA experience and recovery have been like. Open meetings are followed by time for socializing with other attendees.
After you’ve attended a few meetings, you may find a particular meeting that you especially enjoy. It may be that the people in that group have stories that are very similar to yours, or it may be that a particular group fits in better with your daily schedule. Once you’ve found a group whose meetings you plan to attend regularly, you’ve found your home meeting.
How Can Having a Home Meeting Help?
Home meetings are closed meetings that are only for members and newcomers who are seeking help with their alcohol use issues. Closed meetings are completely private, so you can listen and share your truth in confidence. The atmosphere at meetings is respectful and calm.
Since your home group is the meeting that you attend regularly, the other people in the group will get to know you. This can add an extra layer of support and accountability. For example, if you start missing meetings, a member might call to check on you. Over time, it’s likely that you’ll form close bonds and strong friendships with some of the group members.
The sense of belonging that you get from having a home group may make it easier for you to attend meetings consistently. When you attend meetings on a regular basis, it will give you structure in your days, and you may be more likely to succeed in becoming sober.
People who attend your home meeting will share your triumphs and struggles with you. As you get to know the people in your group, you’ll have opportunities to contribute and improve other members’ lives in a meaningful way.
For example, you might be asked to attend business meetings for your group, and you’ll have a chance to help new group members by sharing your story. You could decide to serve as your group’s treasurer, secretary, or chairperson. You may choose to sponsor a group member as well. Your home meeting will become like a family, and you’ll celebrate the sobriety anniversaries and milestones of other members as a group. All these contributions, responsibilities, and shared experiences can help you stay motivated on your path to sobriety.
What Can You Expect at a Home Meeting?
As you’ll learn from attending meetings with different AA groups, each group is autonomous. This means that different groups in the same town might use different approaches. However, there are certain unifying elements across AA that you can expect to see at most meetings, and you’ll become more familiar with these as you go to your home group meetings.
What Are the Common Elements at AA Home Meetings?
Most AA home group meetings begin with the chairperson reading the AA preamble and serenity prayer. Next, members of the group will read AA literature. Usually, passages from the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” and the “Alcoholics Anonymous” book (“The Big Book”) will be read.
The 12 steps deal with acknowledging alcohol use issues, committing to sobriety, making amends to those one has hurt, and helping others in their paths to sobriety. The 12 steps also involve the use of prayer or meditation. While God is mentioned in the 12 steps, you don’t have to be religious to successfully use the 12 steps, and people of all faiths are welcome at meetings.
Primarily, the 12 traditions of AA deal with protecting the anonymity of group members. All group members agree to keep the identities of the other group members completely confidential. The 12 traditions also remind group members that their personal recoveries are dependent upon the unity of the group.
After the readings of AA material, newcomers are invited to introduce themselves, and group members may share their stories and struggles if they wish. Traditionally, newcomers are given a book with the group schedule and a list of members they can contact if they feel the urge to consume alcohol.
Meetings conclude with announcements and the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. You do not have to say the prayer if you don’t wish to do so. After the meeting, there is time for socializing.
What Are Some of the Differences You Might Encounter at AA Home Meetings?
Since the members are different in each group, it’s common for each one to have a different feel. For example, some meetings may have a more religious feel than others. Some may feel more formal than others. It’s important to choose a home group that feels comfortable for you. It should be a place where you feel supported and able to share your story.
Some of your home meetings could have different formats than the regular “sharing” format mentioned above. For example, some group meetings are “step meetings.” These meetings focus on one of the 12 steps, and the corresponding chapter is read from the “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions” book. Instead of the regular sharing format, members are asked to share their experiences, hopes, and strengths related to the specific step that’s being discussed.
What Can You Do If You Need Additional Support?
While AA is an important lifeline for many people with alcohol use disorders, there are times when you need more help than AA can provide. If you believe you may have an alcohol use disorder, you should visit your primary care physician. He or she can provide a diagnosis, personalized advice, and resources for follow-up care.
Your physician can give you information about AA meetings in your area and about outpatient treatment options that may work for you. If your doctor believes that you need medical detox or care at a residential facility, he or she will help you find appropriate treatment centers for your specific needs. After you complete medical detox and residential treatment, you can join an AA group in your community to help with maintaining your sobriety.
How Granite Recovery Centers Can Help
If you’ve been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder, treatment from Granite Recovery Centers can help you on the journey to recovery. We have dedicated facilities for rehabilitation from alcohol use disorders. When you join us at our nationally accredited facilities, we can provide assistance for every stage of your recovery.
If you need medical detox, you can complete it at our residential centers. Our caring, professional staff will look after your medical and emotional needs throughout the detox process. You’ll receive medications to make detoxing more comfortable, and you’ll be supported mentally, emotionally, and spiritually with psychotherapy.
After you complete your detox, you can continue staying at our residential facilities to begin the process of healing from alcohol misuse. All of our alcohol rehabilitation centers use a hybrid approach that combines the 12-step method with medical support and psychotherapy. The 12 steps that we use are similar to those you’ll find at AA. During therapy sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to share your experiences and hopes for the future. The meetings will help you address maladaptive behaviors, take a personal inventory, and heal past resentments.
After your stay at our residential centers, you may want to transition to our extended care or sober living facilities. There, you can receive extra support before you return home. In addition to our residential care, we have outpatient treatment options, one of which may be a good fit for you.
To learn more about how the programs we offer could fit your needs, give us a call. Our friendly, knowledgeable team members are here for you. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you find the program that fits you best. We’re honored to be part of your recovery.