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What to Expect from AA

man hugging a participant while discussing what to expect from aa

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is often referred to as a fellowship of peers that help one another resolve drinking problems and maintain sobriety. Many addiction treatment centers include AA meetings as part of a comprehensive recovery plan.

People who are new to recovery may wonder what to expect from Alcoholics Anonymous and if attending meetings would be beneficial. Call Vertava Health Mississippi at 844.470.0410 to learn more about AA and all of our treatment programs.

What Is AA?

AA is a peer-led support group that helps people with alcohol use disorder achieve sobriety through the 12 steps. The steps are a set of spiritually-based principles that provide individuals with a guide to help them avoid alcohol and live a healthy, well-balanced life.

In a nutshell, the AA 12 steps are:

  1. Honesty
  2. Hope
  3. Surrender
  4. Courage
  5. Integrity
  6. Willingness
  7. Humility
  8. Love
  9. Responsibility
  10. Discipline
  11. Awareness
  12. Service

Each principle also comes with suggestions for “working” the step to make it an actionable part of recovery, not just an ideal.

The mission of AA does not include recruiting new members or prohibiting alcohol use in general. However, a core belief of Alcoholics Anonymous is that complete abstinence is the best option for anyone who meets the criteria for alcohol use disorder.

What Happens in Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings?

There are thousands of AA groups around the country. Unless the group is described as gender-specific, anyone is welcome to attend, and there is no charge. When it comes to what to expect from AA, there are many common myths.

It is not required that you:

  • Stand up and speak or say you are an alcoholic
  • Pray
  • Join any sort of committee or sign any agreements about attendance
  • Pay fees
  • Hug or touch other people
  • Share personal stories
  • Participate in other sober events

What you will experience is a group of welcoming people who respect your space and your privacy.

Meetings typically last between 60 and 90 minutes and include a series of readings, personal sharing, a reflection on a specific step or AA tradition, and some version of the Serenity Prayer. There is often a time for fellowship after the meeting, either at the meeting place or meeting at a nearby café to eat and visit.

There are different types of meetings, including speaker meetings that feature an inspirational message, topic meetings that focus on a specific issue, or panel presentations that are typically educational.

AA also books meetings for women only, men only, and the LGBTQA community, as well as open meetings, closed meetings, and meetings specifically for beginners.

The details of what happens in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is considered private. That is the point of being “anonymous.” Members count on one another not to reveal their identities to people outside the meeting or to repeat personal stories.

What to Expect from Alcoholics Anonymous in Rehab

Attending AA meetings while in treatment may be part of your customized treatment plan. As in the community, these meetings may be led by an experienced peer or a member of the recovery team. It is typical for meetings to be led by a volunteer who is also in recovery—even if they happen to be on staff.

Along with the 12 steps, there are 12 traditions that guide the format of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings wherever they are held. Among those traditions is the idea that the only true authority is a person’s Higher Power and that the common welfare of the group should always come first.

Learn More About What to Expect from AA at Vertava Health Mississippi

We offer 12-step meetings as part of our comprehensive treatment program at Vertava Health Mississippi. Contact us today at 844.470.0410 for more information about what types of addiction we treat and how AA can support your sobriety during and after treatment.