Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free recovery support group that is open to anyone who has a desire to quit drinking. AA was founded in the 1930s. Its 12-step approach to gaining and maintaining sobriety has been so effective that there are now 12-step support groups for nearly every type of addiction including substance abuse, gambling, and sex. Alcoholics Anonymous is also an excellent support resource for anyone involved in or considering a virtual intensive outpatient program.
How Long Does an AA Meeting Last?
There are multiple types of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and most are comprised of about an hour of structured meeting time followed by some optional fellowship opportunities.
AA meetings last about 60 minutes. Some meetings will be slightly longer or shorter depending on the type of meeting. For example, a keynote speaker sharing their remarkable recovery may run over a few minutes. Most facilitators ensure that meetings stick close to the scheduled time. Many people leading busy lives depend on timely meetings, so the group leader usually indicates the length of the meeting in the schedule.
Many people arrive before the meeting to visit, have coffee, peruse AA literature, or make preparations for the meeting. This process is a bit truncated for virtual meetings since people are tuning in from their own homes. Other people make plans to spend time with other members of the group before or after a meeting. Other people may wish to continue group discussions after the meeting has ended. Meetings are voluntary, and no one is required to stay.
What to Expect at an AA Meeting
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people turned to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with stress and despair. There’s no question our nation is dealing with a mental health crisis, and AA is one of the most consistently successful practices to combat addiction while addressing underlying mental health issues.
The spiritual and operational foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous is the 12 steps, and the first three steps provide a framework for anyone entering the program. Those first three steps are:
- Step 1 – Admitting we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives have become unmanageable
- Step 2 – Coming to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity
- Step 3 – Deciding to turn our will and our lives over to the care of that higher power as we understand it
AA meetings always have a volunteer facilitator who guides the meeting, ensuring that it begins on time, contains all the essential components of an AA meeting, and ends on time. A good facilitator strikes a balance between allowing people to enjoy pre-meeting camaraderie and making sure that it begins on time. People in recovery often seek connection, friendship, and laughter, so pre, and post-meeting fellowship is as vital as the meeting itself. Typically you can expect a meeting to officially begin within 5 minutes of the scheduled start time.
Open AA meetings are open meetings that anyone can attend, whereas closed meetings are closed to anyone who is not a member of their local Alcoholics Anonymous group. Closed meetings may last longer than AA meetings and have a more specific curriculum than a standard AA meeting.
AA literature is read aloud for the first ten minutes or so of a meeting. This literature usually comprises the 12 Steps of AA and the 12 Traditions of AA.
Once literature is read, most meetings open up for individuals to share their experiences, questions, and needs. People experiencing a strong urge to drink are especially encouraged to share so that the group can offer them encouragement and support.
Commonly, no direct advice (crosstalk) is allowed during meetings. However, the sharing of experiences, personal stories, and inspiration by fellow members is welcomed. At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, hearing stories from other members in the group recounting their struggles with alcohol and substance abuse can help a person feel less alone. Additionally, no one is ever required or pressured into sharing or speaking during meetings.
After the meeting, there is another opportunity for fellowship wherein people without sponsors are encouraged to mingle and connect with potential sponsors. However, never feel ashamed if you cannot or are not ready to stay and mingle.
How Many Times a Week Should You Go to AA?
The number of times a week a person goes to AA is entirely up to them. The most common and most recommended frequency of AA meetings is once a week, but some people only go when they feel like they need to go, and other people go every day. There’s no rule on how often you are allowed or required to attend, but many Alcoholics Anonymous members insist that the more often a person attends meetings, the more likely they are to stay sober and healthy.
Do You Have to Be Sober To Be in AA?
The only requirement to be a member of AA is a desire to stop drinking. You will likely find people in all stages of addiction recovery attending AA meetings. People who are still drinking are invited to attend as well as people who have many years of sobriety under their belt.
How to Find AA Meetings
Finding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near you or online is a simple process. Many recovery facilities and hospitals offer a local AA guide or pamphlets. You can also visit the Alcoholics Anonymous organization website and enter your location info for a comprehensive list of meetings. Additionally, you can find lists of virtual AA meetings attended by people worldwide.
Contact Clear Recovery Center for AA Meeting Guides and Support
If you are asking yourself, “How long are AA meetings?”, you may have some reservations about going to your first meeting. It’s completely normal to be nervous if you have never been a part of an Alcoholics Anonymous group before. At Clear Recovery Center, we can support you through every aspect of recovery. We treat substance abuse and mental health simultaneously. Clear Recovery Center offer a variety of resources, programs, addiction treatments, and support in a luxurious environment with numerous comforts and amenities. To learn more, contact us today at 877.799.1985.