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What to Expect at an AA Meeting

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Heavy alcohol use is a very serious problem that can damage your health and result in a wide range of financial and personal issues. If you drink too much alcohol on a consistent basis, the likelihood that you experience health problems like cancer and liver disease is much higher.
Once you admit that you are suffering from a substance use disorder, there are a number of treatment options that you can choose from. Among the most effective of these treatments is Alcoholics Anonymous, which involves a 12-step recovery approach that can help you comprehend, manage, and eventually overcome your addiction.


What Are AA Meetings?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a kind of international fellowship for both women and men who are recovering from an alcohol use disorder. Many people attend these meetings after they have first completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. There are no education or age requirements that you must adhere to if you want to join an AA meeting.
Alcoholics Anonymous is centered around a 12-step program that’s designed to aid in recovery. The first of these steps involves admitting that you are powerless over alcohol and that your life has become unmanageable.
By learning more about this group of principles and by practicing each step, you may be able to manage your cravings for alcohol and lead a healthy and happy life that’s free from the substance. As the name for Alcoholics Anonymous indicates, everyone who attends these meetings is anonymous. When you take part in the type of group therapy administered in AA, your path to recovery will be based on accountability and mutual support with the people who are in the program alongside you.


History of AA Meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous was first founded in 1935, which makes it the oldest recovery association for addiction in the U.S. The two individuals who founded Alcoholics Anonymous were searching for a new technique that could help them effectively manage their alcohol use disorder. Along with creating the group setting that still exists today within these meetings, a handbook was written that consisted of guidelines for AA and how it would operate. Titled “The Big Book,” this handbook continues to serve as a framework for Alcoholics Anonymous today.
It wasn’t until the 1940’s that the 12-steps program was added to Alcoholics Anonymous. At the time, AA was rapidly growing in popularity and required greater structure for its meetings across the country. The 12 steps that members adhere to are able to provide a sturdy foundation that aids in the continuance of sobriety during the meetings and in the months and years to come. While the main benefit of the 12-step program is that you can reduce the possibility of relapse, this program will also give you the framework needed to return to sobriety if ever you do relapse.


Types of AA Meetings You Can Attend

There are two separate types of meetings that you can enter when you join Alcoholics Anonymous; these are open meetings and closed meetings. Open meetings are available to anyone who wants to attend. Even if you aren’t certain that you’re drinking too much alcohol or currently have someone close to you who is experiencing alcohol addiction, you can attend an open meeting for AA. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to attend an open AA meeting, the primary of which include:

  • You want to learn more about the recovery process and what it entails
  • You believe that you or someone close to you may be suffering from a substance use disorder with alcohol
  • You want to determine if Alcoholics Anonymous meets your recovery needs before becoming a member

While anyone can attend an open AA meeting, the ground rules for Alcoholics Anonymous will still apply to the meeting, which means that everyone will remain anonymous. If you don’t respect this anonymity, you may be unable to attend future meetings. The majority of open meetings include a member of Alcoholics Anonymous discussing how they are recovering from their substance use disorder. Non-members may also be able to share their stories. Even though open meetings aren’t as involved as closed ones, they still provide a certain level of accountability that can only be had in group settings.
Closed meetings are very similar to their open counterparts, with the primary difference being that only people who are currently attempting to recover from a substance use disorder with alcohol can attend. The shared experience among attendees allows for more detailed and in-depth discussions when compared to open meetings. You should also receive more support from fellow attendees when you go to a closed meeting.
Keep in mind that the topic and structure for a closed meeting can differ significantly from meeting to meeting. While some closed meetings contain open discussions that are more casual, other meetings are strictly moderated and center mainly on the 12 steps to recovery. If you have already been through a treatment program for your substance use disorder and are committed to recovering from this disorder, closed meetings are highly recommended.


How Long are AA Meetings?

The most common concern with people who are considering attending AA meetings is the time commitment that’s needed to do so. While the initial treatment program for a substance use disorder is deemed by most individuals to be highly relevant to their recovery, some of these same people believe that aftercare programs like Alcoholics Anonymous aren’t required. In truth, recovering from a substance use disorder with alcohol is a long-term process that will require you to manage your cravings and handle any challenges that arise. Attending AA meetings makes it more likely that you will avoid relapsing.
If you believe that attending AA would make it more difficult for you to balance your life and work commitments, it’s important for you to know that these meetings only last for an average of one hour. Even though it’s possible to interact with other members at the end of an AA meeting, you can leave immediately after the meeting has concluded. The moderators who are put in charge of AA meetings make sure that everything is on schedule.


How Much to Attend an AA Meeting?

If you attend an AA meeting during recovery from a substance use disorder, these meetings are always free and don’t come with any membership dues. However, Alcoholics Anonymous will ask for donations from anyone who has attended one or more meetings during recovery. Any donations that are received by local AA chapters go toward monetary support for virtual meetings and the building space needed to hold in-person meetings.


How to Find AA Meetings

AA chapters are available in nearly every region and area in the world, which should make it easy for you to find a meeting near you. When you go to the Alcoholics Anonymous website at this link, you’ll find a meeting directory that separates different AA chapters by state. Upon clicking on the link for your state, you’ll be given the city, address, phone number, and website for every local chapter in the state.


Treatments You Can Obtain Before Attending AA

Before you attend AA meetings, it’s important that you seek comprehensive treatment for your substance use disorder. The treatments available to you are mainly divided into medical detox, outpatient treatment, and inpatient rehab. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Whether you attend inpatient or outpatient treatment, detox is always the first step in the recovery process. The purpose of detox is to make sure that the substance you’ve become addicted to is able to be released from your body, which will allow you to begin other phases of treatment.
While it’s possible to complete this process without medical assistance, it’s common for people recovering from a substance use disorder with alcohol to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms typically include headaches, seizures, hallucinations, anxiety, nausea, tremors, and intense cravings. Without medical assistance, relapse is likely.
When you enter medical detox, a small amount of medication will be administered to ensure that your withdrawal symptoms are reduced or eliminated altogether. If administered properly, you should be able to progress through detox without experiencing severe side effects. At the end of the detox, you can begin further treatment in an outpatient or inpatient setting.
Outpatient treatment involves attending a treatment program a few times each week for several hours each day. During this program, you will receive individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, and other treatment methods. However, you will be able to return home after treatment and continue going to work and school on the road to recovery. Outpatient treatment may not be wholly effective for you if you still have access to alcohol in the home or apartment where you live.
In this event, it’s highly recommended that you consider inpatient rehab, which requires you to stay in a residential facility on a 24/7 basis until the treatment has concluded. Inpatient rehab programs can last anywhere from one month to more than one year. You’ll receive all of the same treatments that are provided in an outpatient treatment program. One notable benefit of attending inpatient rehab is that you will be in a drug-free environment, which makes it more likely that you will avoid relapsing.


Substance Use Disorder Treatments at Granite Recovery Centers

Once you have admitted that you suffer from a substance use disorder, you can work with a treatment provider. One such provider available to you is Granite Recovery Centers, which is located in New Hampshire. Our addiction treatment center provides a combination of a 12-step curriculum and clinical psychotherapies. The treatment programs that are available through Granite Recovery Centers include a comprehensive continuum of care that features:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Medical detox (Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.)
  • Inpatient treatment in a residential facility
  • Sober living arrangements
  • Extended care
  • Intensive outpatient therapy

Along with the inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that are offered through Granite Recovery Centers, we also provide a mental health program. If you enter this program, you can receive substance use disorder treatment that’s tailored to assist individuals who have been diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders.
In 2019, over 14 million adults above the age of 18 suffered from an alcohol use disorder. Because of how widely available alcohol is, recovery from an alcohol use disorder is very difficult unless you obtain comprehensive treatment. This treatment should begin with medical detox and end with attendance in an aftercare program like Alcoholics Anonymous. To start your road to recovery, all that’s required of you is to realize and admit that you are suffering from a substance use disorder and that treatment is needed.