Twelve-step meetings such as AA can be a valuable asset for anyone who wants to recover from addiction. If you’re still in active addiction, attending a nearby AA meeting is a great first step towards sobriety. If you’ve been through a treatment program, attending AA meetings regularly can be a great way to keep up your commitment to recovery and connect to a sober network. Everyone is a little nervous before going to his first AA meeting, so here’s a brief outline of what to expect and how to act.
Show up Early
There are a couple of reasons it’s good to show up early to your first meeting. One is that you may have trouble finding the place and it’s always harder to come in once the meeting has started. Second, there’s not much time to talk to other members once the meeting is underway. If you arrive a few minutes early, you can introduce yourself to the meeting chair and tell him or her that it’s your first meeting. The chair may introduce you to some other people. If that sounds like too much, you can just find a seat until the meeting starts.
Bring a Friend
It’s normal to be nervous before trying something new. It can help to go with a friend who is familiar with AA meetings and perhaps even knows some people. Your friend can explain how things go and introduce you to some people. Even if your friend is new too, having moral support always helps.
Approach with Curiosity
Curiosity is a great way to overcome fear of new things. Think of it as a learning experience rather than a chore or an opportunity to embarrass yourself. Approaching your first meeting with curiosity is also a good way to keep an open mind. Many of us have preconceptions about AA meetings based only on what we’ve seen on TV or movies. This is a chance to see what meetings and the people who attend them are really like. Pay attention and absorb as much as you can.
The Meeting Follows a Regular Format
There are several different kinds of meetings but they all follow a general format. The chairperson will read the AA preamble, and there will be a group prayer, after which, some members will read some AA literature. Then the chairperson will ask if any new members want to introduce themselves. You can choose to introduce yourself or not. There will likely be step study and sharing. After the meeting, people usually hang around and talk for a bit. You can either talk to people or leave at that point.
You Can Share or Not
Many people are afraid to go to an AA meeting because they are afraid they’ll have to stand up in front of everyone and say, “My name is Bill and I’m an alcoholic,” then share the worst thing they’ve done while drinking. No one is obligated to share, especially at his first meeting. Sharing is a great way to engage with the group but you’re free to attend a few meetings and see how it works before you share. If you do decide to share, pay attention to what’s going on. Usually members share on a specific topic so make sure what you share relates to that topic. Be considerate of others’ time and stick to your point. Crosstalk isn’t allowed at meetings, so when others are sharing, just listen.
Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently.
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