Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step type programs have become world-renown for help with alcoholism. If you’re considering going to your first meeting for AA or another type of 12 step program, you might not know what to expect. You’ll have an initial meet and greet time period, and then an introduction for the meeting. Next, you’ll probably have some time where you all learn a bit about a certain step of the program. Next, there will be time for people to share their experiences. And finally, you’ll wrap up and have time to socialize. Remember that you won’t ever be forced to participate if you are uncomfortable. Everybody there has gone through similar experiences as you and just wants to help you on your journey to sobriety.

What to Expect at Your First Meeting for AA or 12 Step Program


When you arrive at your first meeting for AA, you’ll probably be in a church or meeting hall. Often there are light refreshments provided and chairs set in a semi-circle. There might be people socializing and saying hello when you arrive. Feel free to introduce yourself or sit quietly if that makes you more comfortable. Once the meeting begins, everybody will find a chair around the leader of the meeting. The leader will usually begin with an opening statement followed by a short prayer. You do not have to participate in the prayer if you do not want to.


The next part of your first meeting consists of learning a bit about the program. The leader might ask if there are any first-time joiners, at which point you can choose whether or not you’d like to respond. Some meetings are Step Meetings, that focus on one particular step of the healing process. If this is the case, the leader will probably read some literature about that step to help you better understand it.


After the leader has explained which step will be focused on in your first meeting, they’ll invite members to share. This is the point in the meeting where members will most likely discuss their own journeys. You can feel free to introduce yourself at this point. If you’re comfortable, share a bit about why you’re at the meeting. Members will tell stories or share triumphs or hardships. This is meant to be a time where members can encourage each other and learn from others’ experiences.


At the end of your first meeting, they’ll probably wrap up with another short prayer or statement. Again, you do not need to participate in the prayer if you are uncomfortable with that. After the meeting is finished, there will be a time where members can mingle and get to know each other more. Feel free to socialize if you’d like. It’s also perfectly fine to leave at this point. Remember that you can take this at your own pace.

Your first meeting for AA or another 12 step program might have you feeling anxious. However, remember that everybody there has the same goal as you. To live a sober life without struggling with addiction. You’ll never be forced to participate or share anything that you’d rather keep private. Most meetings will follow the same plan of a welcome portion, followed by a short lesson. Then sharing sessions followed by a short wrap-up is very typical. These have proven to be helpful for recovery. Learning from others who are going through a similar journey can be so helpful. They can be a great source of help when you’re struggling. They’ll also share with you in your triumphs when you reach goals. Hopefully, your journey to sobriety starts with that very first meeting.