I am retired Navy and like most of us I had no idea what to expect at an AA meeting. I have included some information that may ease your worry.
I go to meetings to hear voices other than my own
How to get through your first Alcoholics Anonymous Meeting
originated by:Ljp26, Maluniu
Nobody wants to go to their first Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. Everyone is afraid. AA welcomes everyone, and you don't need to meet any requirements. If you've ever thought of going, or have been told you must go, here's what to do.
1 Find a meeting. There are lots of sources. Call the nearest Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroup office, visit http://www.aa.org
, ask a church pastor or anyone you might know in recovery. Many cities have hundreds, or even over a thousand AA meetings each week.
2 Pick a compatible meeting. If you're going because you are curious about AA, go to an "open" meeting, which is for anyone. Closed meetings are only for people who have decided they have a problem with alcohol and want to stop drinking. Some meetings are for men only or women only, are foreign language speaking or are for other special groups. The sources above can guide you to the right meeting.
3 Ask for a ride if you don't have a way to get there. The local AA office can usually arrange for someone who is going to the meeting to pick you up.
4 Get there early. Many meetings are held in churches. Watch what door people go in so you can follow them to the right room. If you aren't sure if you're at the right place, ask someone if it is the meeting for "friends of Bill W."
5 Expect to see all kinds of people there: young, old, worn-down, elegant. They may be very different than you. You might be surprised that so many people look healthy and happy. They are all there for the same reason no matter how they look on the outside.
6 Relax. You aren't required to do or believe anything. You don't have to say a word.
7 Watch how the meeting works. They usually begin with volunteers reading from AA literature, followed by a group discussion, book study or featured speaker.
8 Sometimes the leader will ask if anyone is at their first AA meeting. If you want, you can raise your hand and give your first name.
9 Listen. You will get a lot out of your first meeting by hearing others' experiences. You might not understand all the discussion, but try to find something you can relate to.
10 When they pass the basket for donations, you do not have to contribute. If you want to, the normal contribution is $1 or $2 in the U.S. Don't give more than what others are giving.
11 Take a white chip if offered. Some groups give chips to people have been sober for a length of time. They also give a white chip to anyone who doesn't want to drink just for one day. Chips are reminders to help you stay sober. They are free.
12 Ask the chairperson after the meeting for a directory that shows where and when meetings are held. You can go to as many meetings as you want. If you go to a second meeting located near the first one, you might recognize people that were at the first meeting.
Meetings start on time. Plan to get there early and stay late so people can introduce themselves.
If you get there late, it's OK. Just go in and sit down.
Tell someone you are new. They will probably introduce you to others.
Go sober and not high. Otherwise the experience won't be very useful.
During the meeting, don't ask questions or talk to anyone in the group directly, even if it seems like someone is talking directly to you. Stay after the meeting to ask questions or tell them your story.
There is a lot of laughter in AA meetings. It's also OK to cry.
If you see someone there that you know, don't worry that they will "tell on you." They are probably there for the same reason you are.
Go to a different meeting if you don't hear anything that you can relate to. Each meeting has a unique personality.
If people give you their phone numbers, they want to help if you need it. Call them before you take a drink. Say that they gave you their number at the meeting and you want to drink.
Never drive with alcohol in your system, even if you think you need to get to an AA meeting right away. Get someone to give you a ride instead.
The group might ask you to leave and come back another day if you are disruptive or start rambling about something other than alcohol.
Once you get home don't talk about who was there or what they said. One of AA's mottos is "Who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here."