If you have admitted to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol, you may be considering attending a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. You may feel somewhat anxious and are wondering what to expect. You may have heard any one of a number of rumors about AA and other 12-step programs. For instance, you may have been told AA is some kind of cult or that you cannot belong to AA if you are not a religious person. You may think that sober people are boring and that AA turns newcomers into equally boring people. However, this is not the case. Read on to learn more about what to expect at your first AA meeting and how it can help you overcome addiction. What To Expect at Your First AA Meeting - See For Yourself If you believe the stories you hear about AA, you will probably be pleasantly surprised to learn what AA and the people who belong there are really like. Keep in mind that you should always attend more than one meeting before you come to any conclusions about AA. There are many types of AA meetings and many different kinds of members. Therefore, if you go to one meeting and hear things that make you uncomfortable or feel like you do not belong, you should try a different meeting. If you would like to know more about what to expect at your first AA meeting, you should know that Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are based on 12-step programs. They offer suggestions of steps for you to follow as you make a plan for your sobriety and your life. Occasionally, they will make references to God, but they are usually also followed by the phrase, \u201cas we understood Him.\u201d This means that it is OK to go to AA even if you do not believe in God. Your concept of God can be very different from everyone else\u2019s and you are welcome to attend AA even if your higher power is only the group itself or a pet or the sun. The Basic Format of AA Meetings AA meetings are led by a chairperson who will probably make a few announcements and read the preamble. The chairperson may read excerpts from AA literature or may ask volunteers to do the readings. What happens next depends on the type of meeting you are attending. If you are attending a speaker meeting, one or more speakers may come forward to share their stories. There may or may not be a discussion after that. If you are attending a discussion meeting, members may share their stories randomly. At some meetings, the chairperson asks to go around the room so that everyone can share their stories. Discussion meetings may be centered on a topic chosen by one person, or they may be focused on the Big Book of AA or the 12 steps. If you are new and are wondering what to expect at your first AA meeting, know that the leader may ask you to share and that you are allowed to simply pass or say that you would just like to listen. No one will force you to speak. AA is a self-supporting group, so they will probably pass around a basket and ask members to make donations if they choose to. If you do not wish to contribute, that is perfectly fine. Most AA meetings last approximately one hour. As the meeting comes to an end, a volunteer will probably offer chips for people who have attained certain lengths of sobriety. If someone is celebrating an anniversary, that person may share briefly. Most meetings end with a prayer. Keep An Open Mind During discussions, you may hear things that you do not understand or that you disagree with. Plan to attend several meetings with an open mind before you come to any conclusions. If you have questions, approach a member after the meeting or ask the individual for their phone number. Alcoholics Anonymous consists of regular human beings, so at times you may run into personality conflicts or people who try to impose their beliefs on others, especially when it comes to religion. That is not what AA is about, and if you run into people who push you away or turn you off, check out different meetings. The purpose of AA is to provide a safe haven for people who want to stop drinking. In meetings, you will learn how to stay away from alcohol one day at a time, and you will meet many other people who want to do the same. How The Ranch TN Can Help You If you would like to learn more about AA and how these programs can help you overcome addiction, contact The Ranch TN at to learn more. Our professionals are willing and able to help you live a life free of alcohol.