How Long are AA Meetings

How Long are AA Meetings?

Making Time for Your Sobriety and Recovery

For many on the journey to sobriety, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are a beacon of hope and a support system. The participants become akin to a family. These group sessions are essential to recovery, whether substituting for strained family relationships or supplementing an already loving home life.

Whether our clients embrace AA or choose to lean on SMART Recovery for support, or a combination of both, South Shores Detox and Recovery offers many ways to get the help needed to find the lasting clean and sober time.

Like a family that stands with you, cheering your victories and picking you up when you stumble, AA can give you the confidence boost crucial for recovery. Keep reading to learn more about meetings, and how the various programs offered at South Shores Detox and Recovery can help support your sobriety alongside AA!

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What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, is an international community of men and women who have struggled with alcoholism. This self-supporting organization is nonprofessional, multiracial, and apolitical.

You can find AA meetings almost everywhere. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. AA members share their experiences, strength, and hope with each other to solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.

The History of Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

AA was formed in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. Since then, it has grown into a global community with an estimated 2 million worldwide. They participate in more than 115,000 groups in approximately 180 countries. The foundational text, “The Big Book,” outlines AA’s philosophy and methods.

AA: Twelve Steps on the Recovery Journey

Twelve Steps on the Recovery Journey

Central to AA’s approach is the 12-Step program, which provides a framework for self-examination and a strong spiritual foundation.

Alcoholics Anonymous operates around the principles of the 12-Step program. This systematic approach provides a practical framework for self-evaluation, personal growth, and spiritual development. It requires commitment but leads to opportunities for healing.

The program is well-respected. Even the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) refers callers to their hotline for local meetings.

Here’s a breakdown of the Twelve Steps:

  1. Admitting Powerlessness: The first step involves acknowledging that one has lost control over their drinking and that life has become unmanageable. It’s about admitting powerlessness over alcohol.
  2. Belief in a Higher Power: This step is about believing that a Power greater than oneself can restore sanity. It doesn’t necessarily mean a religious understanding of God but a higher power that works for each individual.
  3. The Decision to Turn Our Will and Our Lives Over: In step three, members decide to turn their will and lives over to the care of their higher power, as they understand it.
  4. Moral Inventory: Step four requires soul-searching and a fearless moral inventory. It also demands self-examination of one’s strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Admitting Wrongs: Here, one admits to their higher power, to themselves, and to another human being the exact nature of their wrongs.
  6. Ready to Have God Remove Defects: This step involves becoming ready to have the higher power remove all these character defects.
  7. Ask God to Remove Shortcomings: In step seven, members humbly ask their higher power to remove their shortcomings.
  8. List of Amends: Members list all persons they have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Making Amends: Except when doing so would injure them or others, AA participants make amends to people they’ve harmed.
  10. Continued Inventory: This step involves taking personal inventory. It involves admitting when one is wrong.
  11. Seeking Connection through Prayer and Meditation: AA members seek to improve their conscious contact with their higher power through prayer and meditation. They pray for knowledge of their higher power’s will for them and the power to carry that out.
  12. Carrying the Message: Having had a spiritual awakening due to these steps, members try sharing experiences with alcoholics and practice these principles in all their affairs.

These steps offer a clear recovery pathway. They help every person build a sober lifestyle and address the underlying issues contributing to addiction. Note that a meeting does not provide direct advice or counseling. Instead, they provide a healthy environment for expression and healing.

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How Long Are AA Meetings?

AA meetings typically last for about an hour, and most groups start at the designated time. But the duration of a meeting can vary based on the type of meeting, group size, and individual needs of its group.

Do AA Meetings Require Membership Fees?

No. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) does not have membership fees. The organization operates on the principle of self-support through voluntary contributions from its members. While contributions are welcomed, they are not mandatory. A person’s ability to contribute financially does not impact their participation in AA meetings. The primary requirement for attending an AA meeting is a desire to quit drinking and stay sober.

Do People Attend These Group Meetings Forever?

Group Meetings

AA has no predetermined duration for participation. Some people attend meetings for a short time. But others continue for years or even decades. Lifelong attendance can provide continuous support and reinforce the lessons of sobriety. They may also offer opportunities to help others in their recovery journeys.

Some participants boast that they have attended a local AA meeting for thirty years or more! That doesn’t mean they never have other commitments or frustrating times. But it does mean they value Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

How Often You Can Expect to Attend AA Meetings

The frequency of meetings can vary among AA communities. Some people attend daily, while others may go weekly or monthly. The decision is personal and depends on the needs and commitments of each person.

Closed Meetings Versus Open AA Meetings

When considering attending an AA meeting, you should understand the distinction between closed and open meetings. This knowledge can help you decide which meeting best suits your needs and your journey to overcoming alcohol addiction.

A closed meeting is reserved exclusively for people who want to stop drinking. This Alcoholics Anonymous meeting allows attendees to share personal experiences and struggles related to their alcohol addiction in a confidential, supportive environment. In closed meetings, AA literature is often discussed. A focus is on personal stories of recovery and advice for maintaining sobriety.

On the other hand, an open meeting is for anyone interested in learning more about AA meetings. You don’t have to identify as an alcoholic to attend open meetings. They are designed to be accessible to anyone who wants to learn more about AA, including students, professionals, and families of alcoholics. These meetings allow non-alcoholics to gain insights into the struggles and triumphs of those sharing stories.

The Duration of Different AA Meeting Types

How long are AA meetings when they have open meetings? And how long are AA meetings when they’re closed?

It turns out, the answer is the same for both!

Whether closed or open, an AA meeting typically lasts an hour, sometimes going over a few minutes. An Alcoholics Anonymous meeting will fit into busy lives while providing invaluable support and camaraderie. Each format serves a purpose, and you may find one suits your needs better than the other, or you may benefit from attending both types.

Like the journey to recovery, the choice is deeply personal and should be made with your comfort and well-being in mind.

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Going to Your First AA Meeting

Attending your first meeting can feel intimidating. But remember, everyone there has been in your shoes. They understand your struggles and offer nonjudgmental support. And fellow members know how that first AA meeting feels. New members who seek connection and support when healing from alcohol or drug abuse are welcomed with open arms.

The most important thing is to go. Don’t feel ashamed! Most facilitators will tell you that even if you get a strong urge to leave early and try again next week, you will have made this small step toward staying sober.

And for many of us in recovery, the first AA meeting you attend, and the foundation for success in Alcoholics Anonymous itself, came from gaining alcohol detox services as part of a rehab program. In fact, for many in Southern California, the journey to lasting sobriety started at South Shores, with the ongoing help of our staff and the choice to attend and become familiar with AA, Smart Recovery, and other forms of support that are vital, especially in early recovery.

How Long Are AA Meetings When You Attend Online?

Many AA groups started virtual meetings in response to the global pandemic and the need for social distancing. Participants can join these online meetings from the comfort of their homes. Yet, virtual AA meetings provide the same supportive environment as in-person meetings.

What Type of Group Is Available for Other Substance Abuse?

Cocaine Anonymous

While an AA meeting addresses alcoholism, other similar organizations exist for different types of substance abuse. A couple include Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

What are the Most Common AA Meeting Formats?

AA meetings can vary in format. Most meetings follow these general formats:

  • Speaker Meetings: In a speaker meeting, one or two individuals share their personal experiences with alcoholism and recovery, providing insight and hope to others in the community.
  • Discussion Meetings: These AA meetings invite open discussion among participants, allowing individuals to share personal stories, seek advice, and engage in mutual support.
  • Traditional Study Meetings: Many meetings focus on studying and discussing AA literature, such as the “Big Book” or the “12 Steps and 12 Traditions”, to deepen understanding of the principles of AA and aid in recovering from alcohol abuse.
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What Makes a Good Facilitator?

A good facilitator is empathetic, respectful, and committed to maintaining the AA meeting’s focus on recovery. An effective group leader sets the tone of the AA meeting, guides discussions, and shares announcements. But most importantly, they make every person feel heard and valued during that one hour.

The AA Serenity Prayer

Often recited in AA meetings, the Serenity Prayer calls for peace, courage, and wisdom in the face of addiction. These lines reinforce the ideals AA participants strive to uphold in their recovery journey.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

The prayer, written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, offers individuals a simple yet profound template for navigating the challenges of recovery and life. It calls for peace, courage, and wisdom. Each is essential in the journey toward sobriety and well-being.

Can Family and Friends Also Attend?

Family and Friends Also Attend

Yes! Al-Anon and Alateen meetings are available for friends and family members affected by a loved one’s drinking. These gatherings provide a supportive space to share experiences. People learn from others in similar situations.

Are You Ready for Recovery? Reach Out to South Shores Now!

Recovery is a journey, and like a family, AA and other support groups provide the love, support, and structure you need to navigate this path. Remember, everyone needs a hand to hold during challenging times. Your AA group can be that steady presence, just as your family might be, and together, they can form a robust network of support that empowers you to stay alcohol-free.

But sometimes, you may also need professional help. And that’s where South Shores Recovery comes in. If you or a loved one needs help with medical detox or treatment facilities, please get in touch with us. We’re here to help guide you through recovery, just as your AA group is. Together, we can help you step into a future of sobriety and health.